Iowa Writes

VICTORIA JOHNSON
"Don't Buy Asparagus When There's Snow on the Ground"


Fall is a time for pumpkin pies. No one will say any differently. There are turnips and sweet potatoes too. Things that taste like bonfires and ocher colored leaves and the wind becoming laced with a chill are all okay. When the seasons change, so does what appears on the plate in front of us. We say grace to God and we never want to ask for too much. So when it is autumn we don't ask for the strawberries and raspberries of summer that taste like hot sun on the concrete and kisses down the side of your neck. Don't go beyond where your boundaries lie. My mother has instilled the belief in me that food should fit the seasons. We should not be greedy enough to rip food out of its respective times of the year.

Fall is a time for pumpkin pies. No one will say any differently. There are turnips and sweet potatoes too. Things that taste like bonfires and ocher colored leaves and the wind becoming laced with a chill are all okay. When the seasons change, so does what appears on the plate in front of us. We say grace to God and we never want to ask for too much. So when it is autumn we don't ask for the strawberries and raspberries of summer that taste like hot sun on the concrete and kisses down the side of your neck. Don't go beyond where your boundaries lie. My mother has instilled the belief in me that food should fit the seasons. We should not be greedy enough to rip food out of its respective times of the year.
       My mother taught me that what you eat should reflect whether it is a snow day or a heat advisory. Foods are seasonal; they should be eaten at their peak. You don't snack on clementines in May or gorge upon watermelon in February. Why, the dark seeds would be consumed by the snow and rendered invisible. Splat an egg on black pavement during the height of a July day and it will fry to perfection, but life is not all it is cracked up to be.
       It makes my mother quite angry that these fast trucks and swift planes make it possible to deliver food to places it doesn't belong. What right does a peach have to belong in March in the Midwest? This luscious piece of fruit that was borne out of sunny days and dusty orchard paths does not belong in our kitchen made of walls covered in windows; windows that look out upon cornfields covered in drifts of stark white snow.
       This juxtaposition upsets her. The wrongness of it niggles at the back of her mind as she chops carrots and cleaves chicken and painstakingly prepares a meal for the ones she loves. Oh how she loves us. More than you can imagine being loved. My mother would run to the ends of the earth for me, and when she arrived she would say, "What more can I do?" We eat the food that she buys, cooks, and cares for, so it is vital to her that it be right. Because rightness is important. So my mother feeds me cucumbers from her garden in June and refuses to buy imported cherries in December because her love for me is so big that it cannot be spoken, it has to be shown.
       And it is quite apparent, that love, when she sets the table with foods that reflect the weather, the time, the seasons-our world. Only my mother would be astute enough to bring the whole world to our table with the flick of a tablecloth, the clink of glassware, and the kiss of flame hitting wick as she lights a candle for the center. A candle we gather around as we link hands and she prays to God, thanking him for all that we have been given.
       I sit there and I hear the prayer but I never close my eyes. For God is far away and he is made of thousands of intangible things. I sit there and I can smell the chicken potpie my mother made because it is my favorite meal, and I can feel her callused hand in mine, and I believe in the food in front of me. I believe in my mother, the one who put it there. Give me scripture and I will wonder if there is meaning to all of this. Give me a home-cooked meal, tailor made to the seasons, and I will believe with utter certainty that miracles are everyday occurrences because I have tasted them.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


VICTORIA JOHNSON

Victoria Johnson is a freshman at the University of Iowa where she is pursuing a double major in English and Sociology and a minor in French. She has been a life-long reader and writer, and hopes to one day attend the University's acclaimed Writer's Workshop.

This page was first displayed
on December 19, 2012

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