In Stephen King’s, On Writing, he talks about writing as time-travel. That someone in some room a hundred years ago can write down the content of their imagination, and one hundred years later a person can experience that imagination richly and fully. It’s a magical idea.
Last Christmas my mom gave me a special gift, three hand-written recipes from my great grandmother, Peg. Chicken soup, beef stew, and split pea soup. My mom photocopied and laminated them and now they’re hanging in my kitchen as reference material, decoration, and a beautiful reminder of a lady I loved tremendously.
The recipes themselves are wonderful to read. For example, in the chicken soup one she writes in her pretty long-hand cursive,
“Buy a whole chicken from Previte’s. NOT a roasting one. The ones in the case where all the cold cuts are.“
There’s something amazing about her unwavering belief that Previte’s Market would probably be on the corner forever (it’s not anymore), and that whole chicken would be kept in just the same location – right next to the cold cuts.
After Easter this year, Ryan and I were able to bag up the ham bone from my sister-in-law’s (delicious) meal. We decided to make split pea soup. You might think that’s yucky, but pea soup is a personal favorite of mine. I think it probably has everything to do with the fact that Peg used to make it all the time when I was little.
So, my husband (far more culinarily-inclined than I am) put the recipe together during the day. When I came home from work the house smelled amazing, and the pea soup was cooking in a big pot on the stove.
Ryan, who Peg never met since she passed away such a long time ago, held Peg’s recipe in his hand and “stirred frequently”.
I think I understood what Stephen King was saying when I read On Writing the first time. It makes sense. But it really resonated with me in that moment. Because she wrote it all down, my great grandmother was able to have a conversation with my husband about how best to cook soup. In a weird way, it almost feels like they got to meet.
So, writing is magic.
(cue “Back In Time” by Huey Lewis and the News)