We have a wonderful announcement: Generous people like *you* have already donated nearly $20,000 to help us expand our kitchen – we’re on our way to our goal! Our plan is to build a beautiful commercial kitchen off the rear of the main house where we can serve larger groups, offer more food-based workshops and classes, and provide a shared-use kitchen for local farmers and producers. Read more here.
Sarah Cross, who is supporting this special campaign with some part-time fundraising work, shares some reflections on food, love and poetry, and why this new kitchen is so important to our work.
I was part of a writing group a number of years ago, led by a wonderful writer and guide of writing process. She gave us this assignment one week: to observe ourselves doing something that we loved and to write about it.
I don’t remember anyone else’s writing or what they wrote about, but I do remember when we met the next week to share our writing that we’d each had a common experience through this assignment: we’d fallen in love with ourselves.
I chose to write about myself cooking dinner for the ten people that I shared my home with at the time. I pictured myself in the big communal kitchen, my back to the commercial stove, making, as it turned out, ginger-squash-lentil soup and a birthday cake. I stared at myself, if one can do that in one’s mind’s eye, watching this projection of myself do the same things over and over again. And inhabiting myself as I went through these cooking motions. First I did a ‘free write,’ writing swiftly everything that came to me, and then over multiple revisions, shortening those paragraphs into a poem. I realized that I not only loved these actions but that I loved myself when I was doing them. Even now when I read the poem I wrote, I feel a great affection for myself and a warming of the heart.
I feel that the loving and close focus of the writing process led us to the experience of love and intimacy with ourselves. And I think food can lead us there, too.
Can you picture yourself at the table at The Stone House in silence or surrounded by the chatter of new and old friends connecting? Can you conjure up that moment of breathing in the smell of a sweet potato coconut soup, brazilian black bean stew, mango-jicama salad, ginger chocolate banana bread? Or taking a first bite of kale avocado salad, Indonesian peanut soup and basmati rice, fig compote on oatmeal, a salad of greens fresh from the garden with a cilantro-lemon sauce? A bite of food at The Stone House demands that focus and intimacy with the what’s on your plate or in your bowl. There is always a moment – a moment created by the incredible food, by its freshness, how it was lovingly cooked, the unexpected or familiar flavours; by the atmosphere of attention and welcome that defines The Stone House; by our appreciation of the preciousness of abundant food – of total focus on the food and the act of eating. And I would argue that in this moment of attention there is a profound experience of love for ourselves that is at the very heart of why we are here and what we are sharing with each other. When we choose to nourish ourselves, and to join with this stone circles community in nourishing ourselves together, we are affirming the right to that nourishment and affirming our love for ourselves and our families and communities. We are feeding our heart and the heart of our movements. We are, very simply, loving.
We want more people to experience the very tangible nourishment of food and the larger nourishment The Stone House offers. We want The Stone House and stone circles’ vision to succeed on a big scale, and that requires something new. We have launched an effort to expand the kitchen to help make this possible. New equipment, bigger space, more room to cook for more people. You can read more about our vision for the new kitchen and for food justice at the kitchen campaign’s website, Feeding the Heart.
Please come by sometime soon for a bowl of soup. And take a moment wherever you are today to focus on your food.
for once she’s forgotten herself
crouched down in boggy spring soil
where teeth carved a mushroom’s edge
forcing weight through knife on squash
rising to tiptoes
driving down through flesh and seeds and rind
to familiar chopping block
heels to blue flecked linoleum floor
the loose circles of shoulder and elbow
wrist and finger
rock of knife
swirl of lentils in rinsing water
spatula carving cake dough from red ceramic bowl
lost batter brought to mouth
good of food
unexpected hot burn of onion
relief in the yield of carrots
the openings and closings of thumb and first knuckle skinning ginger
for the same abandon and trust in speech
the same deftness in more complicated pastimes
the same rising and descent through her own flesh
–Sarah Cross, October 2007