Through a freshly cleaned window, spotless and clear, I watch sunlight burn the fog out of the valley. The morning light changes from a diffuse blue gray in the distance to a crisp yellow on the tall trees outside our neighbor’s fence, casting sharp shadows of tree trunks, of limbs, even of the jagged bark.
It is Sunday, our rest day, and as I lounge with my coffee, squirrels go about their busy lives. Their bushy tails are high and happy on this warm January day as they check and re-check their acorn stores, scurrying up trees, tittering, “They’re still there,” and then racing back down to check another hiding spot.
The stove creaks and groans in the next room, coiled elements on a continual quest to maintain that medium-low, #3-on-the-knob heat. We’re cooking kidney beans for chili tonight. And for our daughter, who does not like meat. I cooked black beans yesterday. Chick peas and pintos last weekend. Boiled a dozen eggs Friday to keep as grab-and-go high-protein snacks. Not that our daughter eats them, but the rest of us do.
One of my resolutions this year was to learn how to keep house. Not just to learn how to clean it, but to manage it more economically. I never took a Home Economics class, and now I feel that oversight acutely.
By the time our generation arrived on the high school scene, I think Home Ec classes had been mostly phased out. Our bright young minds were better used for science and math, for advancing, for succeeding. Learning how to create and follow a household budget, how to care for our belongings so that they’ll last, how to shop smart, how to plan meals and conduct household affairs – those were not priorities for our generation’s brain power. I wonder if we’d be as deep in debt today, as individuals and as a nation, if we’d taken more care in learning how to balance budgets, how to plan for our futures at the foundational level – in our domestic lives.
Probably not. Maybe they didn’t even teach that stuff in Home Ec. And even if they did, I’m sure we would have been too young and too cool to digest that sort of fundamental knowledge.
But now. Now that we’re approaching 40, my husband and I are learning. We haven’t balanced our budget yet, but we’re getting closer. And as I run my hands over the smooth, dry beans that click and tap against the glass bowl, I am soothed by their earthy pink color, and am comforted by the fact that they provide three meals worth of protein and only cost $1.29 per bag.
When I open the freezer downstairs to put in yesterday’s black beans, I am greeted by two loaves of our favorite sandwich bread that was on sale at Food Lion this week, six tubs of marinara sauce that I made last Wednesday, an extra homemade meatloaf from last weekend. Dannon yogurt cartons with strips of blue painter’s tape, marked in Sharpie, “Pinto beans 1/4/13,” “Chick peas 1/5/13.”
And my phantom squirrel tail twitches.
This started as a response to the Daily Prompt: Clean Slate, but then it took on a life of its own.