Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Little gems drying on the counter.

Sweet Seduction and Interlaken grapes sat on my counter for four weeks before finding their way into a walnut and cornmeal gateau. They lingered on the middle shelf of the three tiered rack in the far corner, leftover from an open house at Ayers Creek Farm.

Things; food, equipment, jars, and memories sit on my counter for a time, longer than most people in my family would let them. There is a collection of knicknacks on the shelf above the wainscot. A painting of an outdoor market, feathers from a barn owl and acorn woodpeckers, a ball made out of the hair of my first dog, Toby and a collection of sprays; wheat, barley, sorghum, lavender. And a chain of six paper pockets that held six Italian prunes while they dried.

I was raised in a family that kept the kitchen counters clean and uncluttered. Basements are tidy. My Mom and sister hold annual garage sales to raise a little "mad money" and rid their households of the year's cumulative clutter and stuff. But I married a man who sees value in nearly everything. A man from the deep south who knows how to make things and fix them. It isn't unusual for Sam to ascend the basement stairs with an odd piece of wire or hardware in his hand and mutter "finally a use for this, I am glad I didn't throw it away". My basement overflows with stuff and I, like most married couples, have adopted my spouse's ways.

Ten years ago when Sam re-framed the first floor walls, he saved the studs and stashed them in the basement. The fir coasters that hold my evening cocktail are a birthday present he made for me. Amber colored, clear grained 100 year old growth fir squares from groves in the Pacific Northwest. Wood that was harvested locally and supported a local economy long ago. Every so often, pieces of the wood come out of hibernation in the form of a counter top, a cat scratch post or the frame around an old photograph of gill netters on the Columbia River. Never, ever, junked, it is beautiful, old and free.

The man I married would never pitch the grapes drying on the counter. As long as they don't mold or foster a fruit fly colony, they aren't in the way. So they sit and slowly dry, condensing their sugars, and waiting for a good use.