Tonight we had a home cooked meal. We cooked at home. We have a home to cook in.
I was thinking about the second day after the Charlotte/Mink Creek wildfire in our valley and how right after we went out and bought a huge load of groceries. It made no sense. At that point we did not even know if our house had burned.
The day after the fire, Friday, June 29, 2012, we did not leave the hotel. We just waited. We decided not to watch the continuous news coverage of the fire that showed over and over the huge flames arising from the fire, we later found out that some of the most media-worthy clips were right over our house. On Saturday, still not knowing if our house had burned we moved from the hotel room with a kitchenette to a 2 bedroom hotel suite.
On that day we went to one of the local discount clothing stores and tried to buy socks and underwear. They were out. No t-shirts either. We left with something I don’t remember now. From there we went to the grocery store and to the Pocatello Food Coop.We bought so much food it would not fit into the refrigerator in the hotel.
That night we found out our house had burned.
I don’t know why we bought all of that food. I speculated in my blog entry “Food Behavior“ that it had something to do with feeling like we had something. I don’t know. I do know that over the past 20 months we have typically had less than more food in the refrigerator and the pantry.
As it has been since we left the Marriott hotel a month after the fire, our larder has contained less than a typical US household and has certainly been stranger. Tonight was no different. The pantry is sparse. In fact, we don’t have a pantry. We have built a rolling kitchen cart that goes out into a closet in the garage during the day and comes out when it is time to cook dinner. We have food in that. Tonight we had a package of tuna, a jar of spaghetti sauce, some empty spice jars, cornstarch, Liquid Aminos, salt, pepper and vanilla. In the kitchen cabinet we have coffee and tea, peanut butter, a couple of hotel packs of jam, balsamic vinegar, Shredded Wheat and Cream of Wheat. There are two zip top bags of walnuts and almonds left from the huge Costco bags and a mostly eaten bag of raisins. There was 3 table spoons of millet and 3 table spoons of quinoa.
We are better in the little refrigerator we have. We have two kinds of salad dressing, a small chunk of cheese, celery, asparagus, a partially eaten apple, some hot sauces, an almost empty jar of jam, skim milk, a couple of containers of deli dregs of Cole slaw and potato salad. We also have two potatoes and an onion.
I was determined to have a good dinner tonight. Our stove does not yet work and our microwave is better suited to a dorm room than a kitchen but it is what we have. I spent nearly 45 consecutive minutes running the microwave but we had a home cooked meal that felt like home.
For 35 of the past 37 years we ate a healthy diet. Oh, we ate our share of junk food and during our busy work travel-years we ate to excess on super-sized restaurant meals. Still, at home, our values and our habits supported well balanced meals focusing on fruit, vegetables and grains. We even spent over a decade as vegetarians.
During time since the fire our eating habits have been all over the place but primary not in a good place. Both of us have gained weight. Both of us have intentions of eating better and the intentions dematerialize. With each move we assured ourselves we would eat better. Each move we ate better for a few days and then decided with the next move we would eat better. We both saw our eating habits as fire related. At some level we imagined that the impermanence was linked to substituting food for permanence.
We wondered if this would continue when we made the final move, the move home. So far, it seems that being home means we are at home. Being at home in an environment denotes being comfortable there. For us, it is an end to the impermanence we have felt since the fire. I think that a lot of the eating has been because we never quite felt at home. Tonight as I cooked a good dinner in our 700 watt microwave I felt at home.
Our little kitchen has familiar things. Our cart is like one we had from 1993 until 1998. The tiny counter is like the tiny counter we had in the tiny condo we lived in from 1979 until 1987. My knives are the same type as I had before the fire. The dishes are a new set of Blue Willow pattern which I grew up with and we kept house with. We have surrounded ourselves, not with do-overs, but with the things that mean home.
For dinner tonight we had familiarity. The food was delicious and encouraging. We were satiated by healthy servings of vegetables, fruits and grains. We were feed by being home.