Wednesday

Small things we love and Blue Mind Science

Everyone has a favourite kitchen utensil, right? Something quite ordinary, maybe, not necessarily a shiny and mind-boggling piece of culinary technology.

I have one. But Tony, my husband, hates it. My mother finds it awkward when she visits. But I discovered, by accident, that a friend shares my passion for it. When I told him I'd written a poem in its praise, he asked for a copy to put up in his kitchen. How deep is our love!

In Praise of Things

Today I want to say something wonderful
about my potato peeler –
the way the ergonomically designed handle
fits snugly in the curve of my palm as if
it was made for the valley of my right hand.

I want to tell you how it is soul-mate
to thick-skinned vegetables –
cloudy tangerine columns of carrot
knobbly orbs of King Edwards.
How it slides over them as if it might be
wrapping them not unwrapping them
as if it might be whispering
while secretly stealing their skin.

I love the way the steel head swivels
gently rocking from side to side
accommodating each ridge, bump, lesion.
Under the skin

everything glistens
our true colours rising.

OXO Good Grips
Swivel Potato Peeler
I'm thinking about my lovely potato peeler because here, on holiday in South Florida, the one in the kitchen drawer in the rental villa seems designed for other chores, and not one of them involving any degree of sharpness. I could have gnawed the skin off one Idaho potato and two sweet potatoes more effectively with my teeth. I didn't. I used a knife, that was only slightly sharper. 

I was making mashed potatoes to go with Tony's peppered chicken cooked with red wine and cream. As lovely as it is to eat out on holiday, and particularly here in a place that has enough bars and restaurants to entertain the inhabitants of a small country for a year, it is also good to stay in our little villa next to the Atlantic ocean and prepare our own dinner. 

A bottle of Kendall Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon flavoured the chicken and our palates. Afterwards we wandered out into a dark too dark to see the water but we listened to the waves, felt the salt start to speckle on our skin. 

Hillsboro Beach, South Florida
'What is it about the ocean that people feel drawn to it?' Tony asked me.
'Perhaps, at a primitive level, because it's the place we all come from,' I suggested. 

Dr Wallace J Nichols, scientist and best-selling author, is far more insightful in his book Blue Mind, The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connect, in which he combines science and neuroscience to show us how our brains are hard-wired to react positively to water. 

Being British I can't help but think of David Attenborough's series, The Blue Planet. He might not be making the links between human consciousness and the oceans that Nichols identifies but he still delivers us up to the grandeur and astonishing beauty of our watery world, our home. 

At night we switch off the A/C, sleep with the window open, let the sea's voice lull us to sleep, imagine its breath billowing through our dreams. Each day we walk the shore, watch sandpipers scuttle away from waves, the southern flights of pelicans. We breathe.

          never so big
          as when I am breathing
          in the sea

Hungry Writing Prompt
Write about a shoreline, the boundary between a body of land and a body of water.