While I was reading the Dallas Morning News recently, I ran across an article about Maya Angelou. I've never been a huge fan of Angelou's but the article tied her writing and culinary skills together. That's obviously because she's hawking a cookbook.
But one of the quotes really resonated with me. The article described Angelou returning home after being away for several days on a book tour. According to the article, the first thing she did on arriving home was to get in the kitchen and saute onions, celery and garlic in preparation of making a soup.
"If you live alone and have been away a week or more, the house can be as aloof as a pet. You don't feel the warmth of it embracing you," Angelou is quoted as saying. "The best thing to do is start a soup. As the aromas go down the halls, up the steps and around into the bedrooms and into the dining room, it's as if the house says, 'OK, she's back'."
Now, the last thing I usually want to do after coming back home from a trip is to go to work in the kitchen. But the feeling Angelou expresses is very familiar.
I returned recently from a week-long business trip and was shocked at how alien my home felt. Part of that, I know, was that my best cat ever had died while I was gone. Even though her death was expected, it still felt like my house was saying, "You don't belong here right now."
My home was full of strange smells, not usual to it's normal daily life. It had been intruded on by several different people who had helped take care of it and it's animal residents. Things were in odd places, dirt was tracked everywhere and it felt like I had lost my place in my own home.
For a week, I cleaned and refreshed the things of my home and I loved and reassured the animals. And yet, my house was still turning it's back on me.
Finally, a full week after returning, I felt the need for something warm and nourishing for dinner. I boiled a chicken, simmered it in stock, added some biscuits, carrots and celery and there was my soup.
Suddenly, my house was mine again and was welcoming me back home.