26 Mar 2015

Meaningful

I am struggling to be meaningful this week. I am juggling the ingredients of lasagne, a family lunch, watching a child grow into an independent adult, running, daffodil bulbs and poetry with no sign that any of them want to sit next to each other on the plate of my blogpost. 

The closest I've got to words suggesting more than their plain, unsalted selves is:

family lunch
squeezing in another
layer of lasagne

Hungry Writing Prompt
Write about what family means to you.


This is the lasagne in question: a BBC Good Food recipe whose one and a half litres of milk for the b├ęchamel sauce made my head swivel between the recipe and the biggest measuring jug I have in the kitchen. Does that lower-case 'l' really mean litres?! But it did and, as the five starred recipe reviews suggest, you get one hugely delicious dish of silky savouriness to serve eight. 

Our granddaughter is in her first year of university, studying Costume Interpretation for Theatre & Screen at UAL Wimbledon, and living in halls.

'I know this is a weird thing to ask,' she says, half an hour after arriving for lunch, 'but could I do some laundry?' Her pink duffle-bag is filled with damp clothes she's washed at her mother's house and the tangle of knickers, tops and jumpers yet to be done. She tells me that a load of washing and drying at Halls costs her £10.

And here we are standing together at the sink in the utility room discussing the merits of a Vanish stain removing bar as she rubs gently at some coffee splashes on a pale pink sleeveless top. I have to tilt my head up slightly to look her in the face.

It is when I look at Summer that I feel the passage of time. It becomes more than an intellectual perception, more than a list of occasions, events, holidays, more than a numerical record of the years. I feel it in my body's memory: her three year old palm resting on my face, the weight of her as I lift her to reach a ball trapped in the branches of a tree. And now the warmth of her 19 year old body curled up beside me on the sofa, her knees pushing through the torn denim of her jeans. I rest an arm on her hip as if doing so might keep her here just a little longer. 

Yesterday I ran 5.5 miles with my women's running group. I spent the afternoon planting daffodil bulbs beneath the lawn. Then I read half of Sean Borodale's Human Work, a poetry collection about food, its preparation and transformation, whose words and phrases are surprising, challenging and evocative, but strangely lacking, for me, in any warmth and joy. 

I told you these ingredients were resisting each other's company. But somehow they have taken their place, one by one. No shared meaning. But each meaningful in their own way.