Saturday, Nora and I were carrot-diggers, pulling the row that had grown sugary sweet with the extended season. (The longer you leave them in, the better they get. Plus, they "keep" in the ground. If you want to preserve carrots for an extended period of time, put them in your basement covered in sand in a 5 gallon bucket. I can already count how many of you are jumping out of bed right now to start your own carrot sandbox. Anyway...) The ground was partially frozen, but the sun was warm and the three-pronged shovel Mom and Mike bought me was working great--err, it's like the spork of shovels--sort of a shovel and a pitchfork but with only half a handle--I should learn its name. Anyway, we dug the whole row out in about 15 minutes while pretending to be rabbits. Last year I used a small garden spade and it took so long to do I about banned carrots from the garden party forever. I think I understand why Scarlett O'Hara stood up with a single carrot clasped in one hand after hours of digging and declared she'd "never go hungry again." She had plans to get one of those shovel sporks, too.
Six months ago, these carrots were nothing but a seed packet of hardened, miniature dreams. Next season, I plan to learn how to preserve some of my own (seeds, not dreams--though that would be nice, too.) This seems like essential knowledge to me, right up there with hand washing, bread baking, spare tire changing, and kid hugging.
So, in my refrigerator are 15 pounds of the most delicious and oddly shaped carrots you'll ever meet. I planted "Rainbow Carrots" and they turned out purple, pink, orange and white. Each color has a slightly different flavor. I feel like a kid looking through the Sears Christmas catalog searching for carrot recipes. (Do ya'll have a copy of The Joy of Cooking? Mmmm....) Cream of Carrot Soup with ginger and orange juice...Spicy Peppercorn Carrot Pickles...Roasted Carrots with Butter and Honey...Carrot Cake...
I hope my life can be full of these small adventures--that I will someday learn how to make the crocheted, beaded snowflakes without looking down once like my Grandma and Aunt Dottie do while watching different versions of Jane Eyre just to compare notes on the various Mr. Rochesters. The cookie recipe I know by heart. The song that always finds the notes as it comes out of my throat.
The vision of Nora galloping on tip toes through the house wherever she's going--this is the kind of joy I mean. Something new and small each day...something you can learn by heart because your soul was made for loving it.