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Stone Soup

I found out early yesterday morning that after a fall in his living room, Dad is back in hospital – visit #3 in a week – stable, but still waiting for a doctor’s assessment. My sister left him there overnight and is planning to spend the day at the hospital until she has enough answers so that she can phone me and we can discuss a game plan. Ever since I received her first email Thursday morning, I have been jangly, not knowing what to do with myself; wanting to be there but having to stay put for the moment.

The Limbo Dance
It’s now the end of the week – time to shop for groceries – but I don’t want to buy too many perishables in case I have to leave in a hurry. I’m trying to use what’s on hand. So, I decide to kill two birds with one stone; turn veggies into soup, which will use them up, while having something on hand that will be good for several meals. I can freeze any leftovers if I have to.

I never use a recipe. I throw odds and ends into a heavy-duty freezer bag, the contents of which are magically transformed into soup stock. Once the scraps have done their job and been removed from the pot, I then add some “flavour” ingredients like onions, bay leaves and other spices. I then let the stock simmer some more for awhile before deciding what kind of soup it’s going to be. Today I pour in the remaining contents of a jar of spaghetti sauce that needs finishing up. Even though it is a bright summer morning, the resulting redolence is definitely comforting.

An Old Folk Tale

Stone Soup, one of my favourite children’s stories to read out-loud when I worked in elementary school libraries, always reminds me, for some reason, of the way I make soup. A folk tale, retold by several prominent contemporary children’s authors, Stone Soup is about two strangers (the number varies depending on the version you are reading) who arrive at a town that is facing hardship. They start a cooking fire in the town square, put water from the well in their cooking pot, add a stone, and set the pot on the fire to boil. When a villager passing by asks what they are doing, one of the men explains that they are making stone soup, but it could do with a little something extra. The villager thinks she might have a carrot she can spare and adds it to the soup pot. One by one, the villagers contribute a little something to make the stone soup taste better. Well, you get the idea; in no time at all, everyone gets to share in a delicious meal that would never have existed without a bit of creativity and a lot of cooperation.

Life is Like That

Chopping the onion reminds me of all of the afternoons I spent in the projectionist booth with my father when he took me to work. Throwing in celery conjures up the vision of Dad behind the wheel on a Sunday drive; Mom in the front seat, my sister and me in the back. Cutting bell peppers into strips and stirring in a can of kernel corn (yes, this pot of stone soup is definitely turning into minestrone) brings to mind my Dad’s smile that spreads across his entire face when something really amuses him.

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