I packed up the Corolla on Wednesday morning and poked my way down the snow-packed Gunflint Trail to start in on the Thanksgiving festivities. I packed up enough clothes for four nights away from the cabin and threw in a bag of knitting that looked like this:
My mother coordinates the annual community Thanksgiving dinner in town, so this is always a busy time of year. I'm just one of many, many volunteers who help to bake pies, roast turkeys, pick up various supplies, set tables, help cook, deliver meals and etc, etc. Somehow I ended up on sweet potato this year which went really well on Wednesday when we were peeling, chopping and parboiling the potatoes, but got a little frantic on Thursday morning.
For the dinner we make a sweet potato recipe ala Better Homes and Gardens circa early 1970s. It involves a syrup of butter, brown sugar and ginger which is added to the sweet potatoes along with peaches and cashews and cooked in a roaster for several hours. I went about making the syrup and kept cooking and cooking the syrup, wanting the sugar granules to completely dissolve, but in actuality making caramel. When I poured the "syrup" over the roasting pan full of cold potatoes, the syrup immediately set up into caramel. I know that "caramelizing" food is seen in a positive light these days, but hunks of caramel mixed in with sweet potatoes was really not what I was hoping for. The roasting pan of sweet potatoes was heaped so full and every time I tried to stir the concoction, bits of peach and potato fell onto the floor. By the time dinner was served at 1:00, the floor around the sweet potato operation was a sticky mess, but the caramel chunks had all dissolved, the potatoes had cooked beautifully, and my folly was forgotten. Whew!
We fed approximately 140 people and by 5:00 all the dishes were washed, the leftovers packed and the tables cleaned up. It was time to put our feet and get a little knitting done before collapsing into bed.
On Friday we set off to the Cities -- clickety clack, clickety clack go the knitting needles on the five hour drive-- to spend time with Andy's family. Time spent with family is often low-key and low-energy and by the time we were driving home from the visit yesterday morning, I had a sock that looks like this:
I know spending an entire long weekend knitting a sock doesn't sound especially impressive. Yet I came home with a bunch of fiction and essay ideas scribbled on a Caribou coffee napkin which I'd stuffed into my knitting bag.
People often stress the need for quiet time for the creative process, but, good Midwestern girl that I am, I sometimes struggle with confusing quiet time with a waste of time. And still, I'm continually frustrated by my lack of fiction ideas.
It's a funny thing about fiction ideas. You don't seem to get any unless you have time to spend sitting around, maybe knitting a sock, thinking about nothing in particular. When you're constantly thinking about what you should be doing or what happens next, your mind whirs past the "what if?" thoughts necessary for spawning fiction writing.
It's a good thing to have time to sit and knit socks.
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving filled with just a touch of drama and lots of quiet, thoughtful time before the holiday season is truly upon us.