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After Work: We Can Use A ~Rainy Day, Now And Again

…Dear readers, those of you who live where the winter months grow tedious with rainy days will have to stretch your imaginations to understand that one sunny day after the next can be boring too. Such is human nature…

A grateful Dona Gibbs brings us this report from soggy (temporarily) Florida.

To read more of Dona’s ever-sunny words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

A soft rain fell as we sped through up-to-the hubcaps puddles. It was a very early evening of this vacation week when thousands of families were descending upon other family members lucky enough to have homes in what is usually sunny Florida.

In one of the few lots not occupied by a grand house, a large group of kids had organized a football game. There were a dozen or more, mainly gangly boys in their early adolescent years, chucking a football around until it was time for the next meal. They were soaked, muddy and happy. After all, it was vacation. Florida. And it was warm.

My heart went out to all these families who’d packed for sunny weather and were now in for a long slog of a holiday weekend.

Here in South Florida we have one sunny day after another – usually. All this good weather can get downright monotonous for those of us who spent months at a time here. And a real lack of terrible weather takes away a good conversation starter among strangers.

Dear readers, those of you who live where the winter months grow tedious with rainy days will have to stretch your imaginations to understand that one sunny day after the next can be boring too. Such is human nature.

Here, almost every day, the sun beckons. Breezes ruffle the palm fronds. Herons and cranes soar on the thermals. There’s no good reason to be indoors. And if your plans are indoor ones, you can feel guilty because you’re wasting a great day inside.

“Looks like it gonna rain all weekend,” the cashier said to the customer in front of me at the local grocery store.

“I love a rainy day,” the customer gave her groceries a little helpful shove along the conveyor belt.

“It’s nice to curl up with a cup of tea and watch one of those great old movies,” she sighed.

I had different plans for my weekend. I was going to tackle several chores I’d been putting off. Nothing too taxing. Cleaning out the spice cabinet was the first on the list. Like a lot of home cooks I don’t do this often enough. The shelf life of many herbs and spices is woefully short and we kid ourselves when we think we’re practicing culinary magic by sprinkling grey-green oregano dust in a tomato sauce and calling it Italian.

An advertisement in what used to be called a women’s magazine gave me a nudge. Read the labels, it urged, if the spice was packed in a certain mid-Atlantic city, it was past its prime – way past. The company had stopped packing in that facility several years ago, it said. While the ad was certainly self-serving with a goal of selling more herbs and spices, it did have a public service tone that I appreciated and spurred me to the task.

Clink, clink went the outdated bottles. Several times I paused, unscrewed a cap and took a whiff. Most of the herbs were just a bare suggestion of the sunny hillsides where they were harvested. Some of the stronger scented spices held up to the sniff test. Those I put back. Of course, I might have to add three whole cloves to a beef stew instead of two but I felt less wasteful that if I’d tossed a half full bottle into the trash.

That finished, I moved on to the cabinet where I stash invitations. There was several months’ worth. I took each out and read it again. What wonderful dinner parties, we’d been invited to. What glittering charity galas. What great little evenings in the company of friends.

The rain continued. The drops made a wonderful pattern of circles in the swimming pool. Ibex strode around, probing the sodden earth for whatever ibex think of as gourmet treats.

Ever Enthusiastic Husband padded in, still yawning from a rainy day nap. He has much in common with the boys playing soggy football. A couple of hours indoors and he’s careening off the walls, eager to be playing golf. I think it was all those years sitting in a midtown law office, laboriously crafting endless documents that produced his unstoppable energy.

Just in time, the sun breaks through and he’s out the door for a quick nine holes.

I turn to another pleasurable domestic task. I carefully rinse the enormous strawberries that I’m bringing as our contribution to a dinner party. These are huge local berries from aptly named Plant City, Florida. I make a crème anglais to accompany them.

I muse that I have chosen chores that require slow, careful thoughtful motions. It wouldn’t do to hurry, throwing away outdated herbs. I’d miss the lingering memories of scent of the summer breezes in the South of France. If I’d tossed away the old invitations in a rush, I’d miss conjuring up the pleasant evenings we’ve spent with friends. If I hurriedly chopped the berries, I’d bruise their jeweled perfection. And there’s nothing worse than a scorched crème anglais.

We can all use a rainy day now and again. But as I hear Ever Enthusiastic Husband bang out the door, I think, please not too many of them and not all in a row.


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