Lately I’ve slipped back in to the nasty habit of perusing my to-do lists as I settle in to bed. Once upon a time I had trained myself to let go when the lights went off, let the tasks still undone remain that way until morning and protect my sleeping time as sacred. But as I went to bed last night I was mentally cataloging the items yet to be packed for our weekend trip to Bubba’s parents’ house. Just before I dropped off, I remembered that Lola’s softball photos had just come in the mail and I should be sure to take some to the family we’ll be seeing this weekend. And that’s where I came in to the dream. I’m not sure whether it was hours or mere moments after I had the thought, but…

There is a grouping of four 2×3 photos of Lola in her team uniform, proud smile on her face. I am at my in-laws’ farm, cutting them apart to distribute to everyone. I’m not certain what the photos are resting on, but about 2/3 of the way up the sheet of pictures I realize I’m cutting through the tablecloth or whatever lies beneath. My eyes widen, my breath catches, but I decide to finish the cutting, so I raise the photos up into the air and continue cutting. With a scant millimeter to go the scissors suddenly twist sideways and stop cutting. I feel like I’m a left-handed person trying to cut with regular shears – they just won’t work. But I don’t want to tear the last bit and make the edges ragged, so I right the scissors and try again. Again, they won’t cut. My focus narrows and my eyes zoom in and this millimeter looms larger. The scissors begin to cut slightly, but they veer off to the left and I can’t make them stay on the line between the two adjacent photos. I stop. I can’t have it looking like that. I am so frustrated. No matter how many times I try, the shears won’t cut straight. If I align them correctly, the blades simply won’t work. The only way they will cut is off to the left.

I woke up determined to remember the dream for this morning (they usually seem so clear in the middle of the night and I’m sure I will recall them but by morning they are gone like a puff of smoke). I was too tired to puzzle over it then and even in the light of day, I have no answers. Any thoughts?

Slicing some cantaloupe for the girls this morning, it occurred to me how often I think in food. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Not only is it the natural hub of our house – open to the family room, laundry area, main hallway, and directly leading to the backyard – but with growing kids who are gluten-intolerant and mom-cooking-experiment-tolerant, this is my laboratory. The pantry is a walk-in, always overstuffed, and the refrigerator would be a great place for a photo shoot for one of those ISpy books.

So most of my time is spent in the kitchen. I’m usually on my feet, slicing, mixing, cleaning up, grabbing a quick snack, making a smoothie or espresso, little snatches of time here and there, and either the kids are out playing or waiting for sustenance, so I get to grab quick snatches of thought here and there, too.

Every time I slice cantaloupe or honeydew melon, I think of Susan who used to cut melon for us kids and who taught me how to slice it easily.

When I am topping my own pizza, I remember Carlos and Laura filling up the kitchen with their laughter and 13 homemade pizza crusts, Carlos wearing most of the homemade pizza sauce and Laura and I trying not to explode in giggles.

Throwing ingredients in to the crock pot for chili, I conjure up visions of me on the kitchen phone with Mom guiding me through the steps – her at work and me a latchkey kid. The long phone cord stretched between the wall and the counter, receiver tucked between my shoulder and ear.

Walking through the produce section at the grocery store, I look at the kiwi and recall a girl I used to work with who ate them whole – like a big, fuzzy strawberry. I think of Dad when I see vine-ripened tomatoes. He used to sit on the back porch, slice them open, salt them liberally, and devour them.

It only takes a split second for these images to float through my mind, but I am rarely without some association of a special or unique person in my life when I prepare food. Maybe that is why I enjoy cooking so much. It is certainly not a solitary activity, although I am often performing the activities on my own. I am often cooking for friends or family, and as I go through the motions I am surrounded by others who help me to feel good about the history of the recipes or my own history with food. This groundedness in nourishment is settling for me and nourishes so much more than my belly.