Thursday, November 18, 2010


One butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed. Two butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed. Cecilia asks me if I’d like a different chore and I say no, I’m in a groove now. The French knife takes off the fat end of the squash, a perfectly round bowl of seeds and pulp. Slippery skin the color of cream, tough, and firmly affixed to the fruit of the squash. First I scoop the seeds into the compost bowl, then I try to skim off the skin with the knife, then the vegetable peeler. Beneath the pale skin I find veins of green that run the length of the squash. I peel deeper to the pure orange flesh, then slice off the bottom of the bowl. Slices, then squares and all the gold bits go into the large pan.

My daughter and Cecilia’s daughter laugh over their enormous pile of sweet potatoes, the peels to one side of the cutting board and the odd-shaped nuggets on the other. Cecilia sautés another five pounds of minced onion, along with a few pounds of celery and God knows what else. We discuss the price of organic squash versus the price of Trader Joe’s perfectly-good squash. She asks about my house-hunting and my teaching. I ask how her job is going, how her masters degree is coming along.

When I return to the thick stem-end of the squash, the squash nectar beads in a pattern along the cut end, clear orbs each catching the light. I lift the squash for a closer look and the pattern of bright droplets stays in place. Like lace, I say to the girls, or like dew on a spider web. They touch the droplets then taste their fingertips. They shrug and it's time to cube more squash. 

But for just a moment, I saw it, the blessed secret of the butternut, the waters of creation, like lace.


Ann Kroeker said...

I searched for your online home after reading your essay in The Spirit of Food, Denise.

On Monday, (THC) is launching an online book club discussion of The Spirit of Food, and I loved your essay so much, I thought I would invite you to join our conversation, seeing as you have helped launch it in the book itself.

I anticipate that your essay will be included in the reading selection for this coming week. Participating bloggers read, ponder, pray, and write in response to that week's selection, publishing a post of their own and linking it to the main page the following Monday (I think yours would be highlighted at THC on Monday, Jan 10).

We would love to hear from you, if you have the time to drop by. Your story inspires. I feel I have taken a cooking lesson from you and look forward to making a holy pot pie, including the cheater crust, following your instructions and encouragement. I might even try growing some sprouts in a jar this winter. :)

Ann Kroeker
content editor

Dena Dyer said...

This is such a beautiful snapshot, Denise. Thanks for sharing it. I'm so glad you've joined THC! I know you'll be a wonderful addition to the network and I hope you feel encouraged there. I know I do!