Monday, April 20, 2009

This is why I love this book so much.

I spend a lot of posts here talking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I love reading books and often tear through them at an absurdly rapid pace, but once in a while there's a book that's so good, you go back and read it again more slowly to savor it.

This is one of those books. It's full of a lot of valuable information, to be sure, but what really makes it interesting is the personal stories Barbara Kingsolver tells throughout, in the same deceptively-simple storytelling voice she uses in her novel, Poisonwood Bible. Every chapter is full of stories that inspire a flurry of thought, so on the re-read I'm forcing myself to slow down to a chapter a day instead of my normal pace; give myself time for more of it to sink in, and stretching out my enjoyment of it in the same way I slowly savor a good piece of chocolate. (If I get a particularly tasty one it can take me ten minutes to make my way through a single piece, one tiny bite at a time.)

The first three paragraphs of today's chapter reached out and grabbed me this morning. By a funny coincidence, it's the cheesemaking chapter I mentioned yesterday (a blog on the pie-making fiasco is coming, I promise).

When I was in college, living two states away from my family, I studied the map one weekend and found a different route home from the one we usually travelled. I drove back to Kentucky the new way, which did turn out to be faster. During my visit I made sure all my relatives heard about the navigational brilliance that saved me thirty-seven minutes.

"Thirty-seven," my grandfather mused. "And here you just used up fifteen of them telling all about it. What's your plan for the other twenty-two?"

Good question. I'm still stumped for an answer, whenever the religion of time-saving pushes me to zip through a meal or a chore, rushing everybody out the door to the next point on a schedule. All that hurry can blur the truth that life is a zero-sum equation. Every minute I save will get used on something else, possibly no more sublime than staring at the newel post trying to remember what I just ran upstairs for. On the other hand, attending to the task at hand - even a quotidian chore - might make it into part of a good day, rather than just a rock in the road to someplace else.

By the way, for anyone as lost on the word "quotidian" as I am, says it's "occurring every day" or "commonplace, ordinary."

And now I'm off to do my quotidian dishes. I'm pretty sure it's still not going to be a good part of my day, but at least it'll let the rest of the day run more smoothly.

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