This morning I found myself doing it again: thinking about food.
Instead of drawing inspiration from a gorgeous May morning and focusing on creative endeavors or spiritual concerns, my busy brain was consumed by lunch.
Should I heat up the leftover hamburgers from last night or grill panini sandwiches?
Maybe include a side salad or would chips be enough?
Or should I just go with a salad and forget the chips?
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve made 1,397 meals during the quarantine, but every time I take a walk or get on Zoom, food is what I think about.
My church friends are thinking spiritual thoughts. At a Zoom prayer meeting, one prayer warrior prayed for revival. Another said the pandemic had brought her closer to God. Someone else shared her renewed spirituality.
But one other woman wasn’t focused on spiritual things. She blurted during the middle of prayer requests, “I don’t like the way my resting bitch face looks on Zoom.” The others giggled uneasily, but I was briefly diverted from wondering if I should have roasted Brussel sprouts for dinner.
My writer friends are thinking creative thoughts. Some are churning out tons of stories or working on books, while others have become so productive during quarantine that they are passing along productivity tips to encourage and inspire people like me, who sleep late, only to wake up thinking about whether to have scrambled eggs or fruit and bagels for breakfast.
My husband is thinking about projects. Boxes arrive daily from Amazon with bolts and wires, chargers, coils, filters and other things I can’t identify. This week he screwed new handles on my kayak and built traps to catch the black and yellow bees that bore holes in our deck. The other day he installed a remote printer, so we don’t have to get off the couch to print something. When I hear the ping of a hammer or the rumble of outdoor machinery, I know he’s hard at work on a project.
The one other person I can count on to think about food all the time is my mother. But instead of wondering what she’s going to cook, she’s wondering what I’m going to cook for her.
She starts asking what we’re having for dinner around 3 o’clock. Frequently she comes up with her own suggestions, in the form of a question:
Are you making cornbread tonight?
When are you going to bake me another chocolate pie?
Do we have any chicken?
Maybe she’s the reason I’m so focused on food. When my husband went to work before the pandemic and my mother didn’t live with us, I didn’t make three meals a day. I grabbed a cup of coffee in the morning, ate a sandwich for lunch and decided at the last minute what to have for dinner.
Nowadays more thought goes into it. Different people are hungry at different times. My mother wants to eat at 5:30. My husband wants to finish his project first. And I want to sit on the deck with a glass of wine until at least 6:30.
We also eat different things. My mother doesn’t like fish, vegetables, pasta, rice, tacos, stir-fry, or steak, which covers 75 percent of the food my husband and I consume. Unless I want fried chicken and mashed potatoes every night, I end up cooking two separate dinners. And preparing two separate dinners can keep you thinking about food all the time.
Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”
Does this mean I’m going to be a short order cook instead of a writer?
The next time I walk, I’m determined to think about spiritual, creative things. A beautiful day with spring greening the land and flowers nodding in the breeze should inspire new insights and higher levels of introspection.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The happiest person is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.”
I’m going to walk and absorb nature’s lessons, allowing her to renew my spirituality and creativity. But first I’ll put sweet potatoes in the oven. They’re much better when they are slow-baked and they will be almost ready when I get back.