Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
Oh, those beautiful first lines of Dante's Inferno.
Now in the middle of our life
I awoke in a dark forest
For the straight path had been lost.
To go from the mountain that is Dante to the molehill that is my life (OUR life, which we are in the middle of) is to go from the lofty thoughts with which I should be occupying myself to the selva oscura that is my pantry.
Mr. FS has taken it upon himself to reorganize what is a medium-sized, misshapen closet. When we moved into our house, the pantry was empty, and truly we had hardly anything to put in it. Fast forward to now and there is food of all sorts, cookbooks of the second rank, and Mr. FS's household tools. Oh yeah, and brooms. And work clothes (not for me, for Mr. FS).
I'm trying to avert my gaze. I did notice some Crosse and Blackwell mincemeat that I bought for a quarter several years ago. And some tea that a student gave me. And some English pudding given to me by--this is true--a cross-dressed attendee at a library program on Queen Elizabeth I that I led with a colleague. (This is funny because Queen Elizabeth herself was noted for her genderbending strategies.) Easy enough to throw the expired mincemeat in the trash. Not so easy to trash the sundried tomato relish that MUST be outdated because I can't even remember where I got it. Mr. FS said he threw several things out. He won't tell me what, however.
Mr. FS made some new shelves that will hold dishpans--the kind you get for $1.00. These are the cheapest organizing equipment. They will be labeled by cuisine, type of cooking, type of food: Mexican, Asian, tuna, baking needs, and so on. We had done this earlier, but with the passage of time, the tuna ended up under something else, and the old, should-be-thrown-out food was hidden behind the newer stuff.
Don't I sound reasonable? Like Dante, who travelled for a while with his beloved Virgil, reason is what you need for your journey through the dark places--like pantries.
But then I come to my cookbooks. Reason wavers. To turn to another mountain, John Donne, we learn
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Donne is talking about admitting God into his life; I, in the molehill version, am trying to restore (let's be honest, initiate) order in a pantry.
Has everyone else finished spring cleaning? I will post updates on my journey through the pantry.