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A Time to Feast — And Peel

Or, conclusively, peel an orange. Do it lovingly–in perfect quarters like little boats, or in staggered exfoliations like a flat map of the round world, or in one long spiral, as my grandfather used to do. Nothing is more likely to become garbage than orange rind; but for as long as anyone looks at it in delight, it stands a million triumphant miles from the trash heap.

That, you know, is why the world exists at all. It remains outside the cosmic garbage can of nothingness, not because it is such a solemn necessity that nobody can get rid of it, but because it is the orange peel hung on God’s chandelier, the wishbone in His kitchen closet. He likes it; therefore, it stays. The whole marvelous collection of stones, skins, feathers, and string exists because at least one lover has never quite taken His eye off it, because the Dominus vivificans has his delight with the sons of men.

I just had my hands wrist-deep in chicken grease. The house is smoked up because a stray drumstick wouldn’t behave within its rotisserie prison. The counter top displays my weapons — shears and tongs and forks and even a dismantled coat hanger I thought I could bend into a skewer. I was wrong about that.

I could just throw the whole bird in the oven. But I don’t. My better half despises baked chicken. Hates it. And so I wrestle with the legs, cutting off what is misbehaving, splattering my party shirt with poultry goo, tripping over a licking-the-floor schnauzer, and opening windows upstairs and down. I dream up the broccoli salad he likes. The cole slaw recipe he prefers. The carrots my boys would choose. We’ll see if my efforts are successful in 30 minutes or so.

My kids think I am the best cook in the world. I’m not. . . . Well, I’m okay. I rely on pancake mix and low-fat turkey sausage enough to know that I’m no Martha. But I regularly get, “You make the best sausage in the world, Mommy!”

You have no idea how wonderful that feels. Because I know it’s not the food that they are enjoying. And it’s not just Mommy. It’s both. It’s the combination: the full tummy and the full heart.

My dear 86-year-old Dad insists that his mother was the best cook ever. My mom always retorts to me quietly, “She really wasn’t, Camille. She was terrible!” But Dad still goes on and on about the steak that was as tough as shoe-leather and the fried chicken Grandma made after she boiled the bird for its bone-broth value.

I realize that Mom’s right. But Dad’s right too.

Our world is an orange peel hanging on God’s chandelier. It’s good because He loves it and us. Just like boiled-and-then-fried chicken. Just like that dissected rotisserie project smoking up the downstairs. . . . at least, I hope.

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