Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Year In the Pantry

THE OLD PANTRY by Catherine Seiberling Pond
THE PANTRY at THERON BOYD's HOUSE in VERMONT (perhaps the oldest untouched and intact pantry in the country)

Today at Easter dinner, which because of the pantry book deadline (yesterday, but because like tax day it fell on a Saturday, it will be to my editor next week) we had a very low-key immediate family affair (and I have to say I've all but perfected the art of slow-roasting a leg of lamb with oven-roasted potatoes and creamed spinach--a side of mint jelly, some hot cross buns from the Kernel Bakery, a fresh fruit tart from a local market, and voila!), our neighbor and friend Dot asked me: "When is your book going to be done, Catherine?" and I answered "It's almost out..." To my editor, I meant, not from my hands or computer, but almost. [Sounds like birthing a baby, doesn't it? Well, it is a bit like that in the metaphorical sense of things.]

"The reason I ask," she said, "is because you haven't written in your blog lately!" I realized it had been a while as I've been in the home stretch with "the book", and yes, largely in fleece pants and T-shirt (it's getting kind of warm for Lanz flannels), and generally without benefit of shower (ok, so I haven't been out much!).

And here, while entering this very quick blog as I promised Dot I would do for the sake of keeping you interested or hoping to hold on to those who do visit here, I realize I have had this blogspot now for almost a year: April 21st will be the end of year one and coincidentally (my new hobby--the art of coincidence!), my editor will have my IN THE PANTRY manuscript and photos and all of that hard work in her hands just before then (well, by a few days!).

My sentence structure is long and rambling in this post. It shows you the state of my mind! A bit frazzled. In my pantry research I unearthed a treasure trove of sources--too many for one book. So in the past few weeks I have been cutting and rewriting and rethinking certain things (this sidebar or that sidebar?) and choosing final images and photographs. It has been a wonderful process but an all engrossing one with lots of time outs to address some pressing health issues--even my computer got into the act with a "red screen of death" (thankfully my Powerbook G4 and I have been bonding and I'm tempted just to stay married to it and not stray with the latest iMac for the office but I have to say it is faster and bigger--but don't worry little iBook I won't forget you!).

The good news about all of that research? I easily have enough material for several more book ideas and a series of related lectures on domestic life. In fact, I was just asked to speak on Emily Dickinson (briefly, I said, as I am no Dickinson scholar) at a local library event in honor of the 120th anniversary of her death on May 15. So I am going to speak about her interior life and how it applied to her writing time and her "domestic activities" around the household. My friend Rosemary, who is organizing the event, is making some of Emily's "black cake" and gingerbread for the occasion and we, including our friend Edie (who first brought me to Rosemary and her pantries--and her wonderful baked goods--which will be in my book!), are going to be going to the Dickinson "Homestead" on May 12 to get a sense of her home and environment and to see if, perhaps, her pantry is still there. [For more on Emily and her pantry, see archived blog: "Emily Dickinson's Pantry", from April 22, 2005.] I promise another blog on her home, her 'interior" writing, and her pantry life.

So all of this is a way of saying thank you for stopping by the pantry and stay tuned for future installments on life, the universe, and canned goods. And thanks, Dot, for asking.

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