Some nights my body is so weary I almost forget about my love of food and wish there was a microwave dinner I could heat up. Then I remember that it’s not a microwave dinner I want at all, just the ease of it. I love my box of vegetables and my piles of produce from the farmers’ market, but they are undoubtedly more work.
There was food in the fridge that Chimp had made, so without the energy to cook I ate pasta, chickpeas and tomato-zucchini stew without ceremony. As bad as I felt, I decided I deserved extra cheese on my dinner. A lot of extra cheese.
I closed up the house at around 7 p.m., with the temperature starting to drop. Tonight’s the first night that turning the oven on has felt like a welcome idea. I put some figs in to roast, and pulled from the refrigerator the bag of shelling beans I got from John on Saturday. I sat down to get them out of their pods.
He had told me there were three types; I put three bowls in front of myself. I quickly found three types, then four, then five; I incorporated two similar types into one bowl, then two into another.
The pods were of varying maturities. Some peeled open easily and the beans fell into the bowl almost without effort. Others I had to pry open with great attention. Every so often I misjudged the amount of force needed, sending a loose bean careening into space in a grand arc. The cat watched one fly and sniffed it on landing. It was swiftly deduced that it was clearly not cat food nor a cat toy and it and subsequent missiles were disregarded.
I combined one batch of beans with another, coming down to two bowls. Eh, I figured, even if they have different cooking times and some get softer than others, they’ll still look pretty together.
The warmth of the oven began to reach my spot at the table, warming my back. I sat shelling, aware of the darkness gathering outside and the rising smell of the roasting figs with a sweetness like a batch of molasses cookies.
The beans went in a bowl and the pods went in a growing pile. I thought for a long time about a friend struggling with a still-evolving problem and the difficult decisions that lay ahead. I thought about how much more pleasant it is to think on others’ troubles than your own, and how much easier it is to solve others’ problems in your mind than your own.
The last of the pods snapped open, I looked at the two bowls. I decided the difference between them was not really important. I combined them into one.
I got up and took the figs out of the oven and watched their edges curl around their flesh as they cooled.
I decided I would cook the beans plain, with butter.