Friday, May 27, 2016

I stood at the sink this afternoon, hands under running water, slicing strawberries.

I'd finished cutting the peppers. Then I tackled the jicama. Bit by bit, the raw produce was washed and peeled if needed then assembled into the containers for the fridge.

It's easier if I do all the prep work as soon as I get home. If I don't, then you are most likely to see rotting vegetables in the bins when I forget that I bought them. If they are washed and cut up, I will wander down to find something to eat and be delighted at the magical bounty of the prepared veggies. I can still be amazed at finding things in my refrigerator. My sense of magical realism has never really departed.

I find washing and cutting to be soothing. I line up the vegetables and find my favorite knife.  I place everything in the colander and then let the cold water run over it all for several minutes. I read - who knows where now- that you have to let running water fall on vegetables and fruit for several minutes in order to really get any pesticides off. I have no idea if it is true, but it made sense to me as a young adult and the habit has stuck.

Emily comes home as I am starting on the jicama. I peel, then start the chopping. She reaches in to steal a piece.

My mind wanders as she chatters at me. End of year, chemistry test, who said what to whom at lunch. I murmur in the right places as I watch the knife line up the pieces of jicama.  Down it drops, then up again. Neat sticks of vegetable ready to be placed in the container.

She chatters more and takes another piece of jicama. She is 18 now and I am befuddled at having an 18 year old in my house. An 18 year old who is my child. I do not feel old enough to have a child who is 18.

I look at my hands and wonder if they look like my mother's hands. How strange it all is.

Once the jicama is done, I wash the cutting board and the colander, then begin again.

Quarts of strawberries are lined up and I begin to transfer them to rest under the water. I seek out a different knife, for I need one a little duller as I begin to take off the leaves, then quarter them all in a few swift movements.

As I flip the berry in my hand, I press the knife through to meet my thumb. Gently, not hard enough to cut, but just enough to part the berry... I have an image of my grandmother cutting an apple for me. When she did this same hand movement that I am now doing with these berries, I would hold my breath because she was using the knife in a way that I'd been explicitly told to never, never, never use.

I smile at my hands under the water. My daughter, still talking, walks over to me to begin eating the berries as I pile them in the bowl.

My mind wanders.

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