On the Pleasures of Oatmeal

There is something to be said for a bowl of cooked oats- not the kind that come from a packet and all look the same, the kind whose descent into the bowl is followed by an unrecognizable powder of lord knows what. No, the pleasure is to be found in raw oats one cooks for oneself, slowly over the stove top, 1/2 C water, 1/4 C oats, a dash of salt. Water boils and steam rolls off, salt is dissolved, oats are added, and temperatures are lowered as the oats are cooked, slowly, soothingly, bumping shoulders as they are bounced along by the force of upward bursts of air and rising bubbles. It is a strange dance of grain and water made possible by fire, an elemental exercise of the three. Soon the oats have nearly absorbed all of the faintly salty liquid, tears for a bygone era, and I quickly add one rounded tablespoon of dried cranberries, crimson and glowing, so beautiful in the morning light that I pitch a few more in, stirring them in with my oats, admiring the way they shine against the pale background, making my mouth fill with desire. A handful of pecans until just warmed, the smell of their earthiness beckoning on the rising steam. I choose my favorite bowl, blue with pinched edges, smiling to myself at how the cranberries seem darker and more concentrated for the choice. A quick drizzle of maple syrup for a hint of sweetness, losing its form over the hot contents of my bowl, and then the hurried grabbing of a spoon.

The first bite is always the best, the anticipation, the mingling of hunger and eagerness: the warmth of the silky smooth oats-- earthy-- then the maple joins in-- saccharine-- before one presses bone together revealing a burst of flavor in a crushed nut-- buttery and jarring-- the soft squishy pop of a cranberry-- a release of breath. A smile. A sip of bitter black coffee to wash it all down. An inward warmth blossoming, throwing the chill and the fret out of one as the sun climbs higher dissipating the hoary frost which encircles the world on a cold January morning.


Jade said...

So, so beautiful and imaginative. :) I think I'll have to make oatmeal now...the real kind like you so poignantly describe. :)

Mary said...

Jade, thanks for another lovely comment! This was one of those posts I wasn't really sure about sharing but decided to close my eyes with and bravely publish anyway- so it's nice to know that someone enjoyed it!