Sometimes when I get “stuck” writing, I tackle some other task while things are percolating in my head. So yesterday I cleaned out the kitchen pantry. Sort of.
I could not believe the stuff that was in there. You know how when you buy a can of soup, for instance, and the expiration date is approximately twenty years in the future? Ok fine, at least four years, right? Well, when you find cans of soup in the pantry that expired three years ago, there is a problem.
Oh, I know what the problem is. Hurricanes. Big swirly storms that come in off the ocean? Those. My first experience with hurricanes was named Andrew. We’d been living in south Florida for an entire year and in all that time no one had really mentioned hurricanes. Guess it was a quiet year. So when Andrew roared ashore, I was not ready. Not in any way whatsoever. My supplies of food and water and mental fortitude were all pitifully low. We were lucky and Andrew carved a path of destruction well to the south of us. But it also made a big impression on me.
I became obsessed with hurricane preparedness. You don’t believe me? I have a recipe for water. In case the water supply is contaminated by flooding. I think it involves boiling and bleach. I’ve never used it, but I feel better knowing it’s there.
Just like all those canned goods. They represent security. I can’t seem to help it — I buy more security every spring. Never mind that no one in my family even eats half this stuff. Apricots in heavy syrup? I hate apricots. Canned lima beans? What was I thinking? But I know they’re there. Just in case.
Never mind that we no longer live in south Florida. The first year we were here — two hours inland, mind you, in the middle of North Carolina — there was a little thing called Fran. And then there was Floyd. Believe me, I could live in the Black Hills of South Dakota and I would By God Be Prepared for a hurricane.
I found an unopened box of club crackers that had a price tag sticker from a store named Big Star. The last time I shopped at Big Star was when we lived in Atlanta. Sixteen years ago.
Ok, so maybe hurricanes don’t explain all the stuff I found in my pantry. The other problem is that insistent voice in my head that says, “Ooh look, something shiny.” Yeah, halfway through sorting and throwing, I figured out how to solve that little plot glitch.
I’m pretty sure those lima beans are still sitting on the counter. Right next to the jar of artichoke hearts from 1998.