Saturday, 9 July 2011

Bean Thinking

Flat, stringless Helda beans; been in the fridge long enough to lose their first crispness which would slide effortlessly through the slicer. Now, when I snip the tip and try to push the flat, cut edge through the metal blades, the bean buckles, sticks as the first white seed clogs the cutters, and I have to resort to a knife.

The pale skins are cool beneath my fingers, which soon find their own rhythm – slice into three lengths, cut each section into four thin strips, place in container. Pick up next bean, slice into three lengths, cut each section into four thin strips… and so on…
The resulting heap of green slivers is uniform, and will cook through evenly, all at the same speed. The bonus? They will look appetizing when served up onto a dinner plate, instead of a tangled mess.

Next, I create crisp, carrot batons, rich, glowing red-orange, with slightly paler hearts. They lie alongside the beans in my steamer, and round chunks of leeks and oddly shaped, tiny new potatoes scattered around the edges make a composition any artist would be pleased to capture on canvas.

The whole operation takes exactly the right amount of time for the water in the lidded base of the steamer to boil. I lift the lid and steam clouds my spectacles as I place the many holed steamer section, with its vegetable still life content, onto the pan and replace the lid.

The only difference about these simple actions, is that this time, I decide to translate them into written words. I realise, although to me the commonplace preparation of vegetables is scarcely remarkable, to many other people it would be anything but…And I begin to place myself in the shoes of someone with disabilities which would turn the whole thing into a mammoth undertaking.

I’ve known friends and relations with arthritis in their finger joints, so bad, their whole hands became misshapen, and gripping tools or knives varied between the painful, and the impossible. This is only the tip of an iceberg, when I begin to add amputees, stroke victims and those with birth defects to my list of beings who will never be able to copy my actions unthinkingly. All this is apart from the millions of people around the globe who have no chance of cooking anything. There is no food, no water, no utensils, no kitchen... and no hope.

And these thoughts happened because I made a conscious decision to be more aware of my actions, instead of performing them while my mind was miles away, doing less boring things instead...

I thought this might be a good post to link to Susannah's I Saw Sunday, even though I posted it Saturday! LOL  Blogland days tend to be different, anyway...


  1. A commendably thought-provoking post. The simplest actions can make excellent word fodder and give much pleasure to the reader. Adding in not so physically blest is a great bonus.

  2. A most beautiful post, has a very peaceful calming affect and yet so thought-provoking too!

  3. I enjoyed your thoughtful post and the lovely photograph of the beans.

  4. It's interesting sometimes to map our commonest actions and your penultimate paragraph is very telling. Good post:-)

  5. And a very healthy dinner as a result too ;-)
    Good luck with keeping up the good intention of being aware of your actions (did I say that right? Well, you know what I mean I guess.). I often have good intentions. It is the persevering part that is the most difficult ;-)

  6. Very good point - well said, Jinksy.

  7. Ditto, to all the above. A lovely post. We need to see things through 'new eyes' from time to time.

  8. Good reflective post. Reading it, I realise how much time I spend on auto-pilot when I should be conscious...

  9. The practice of moment to moment observation is very difficult for many in our fast paced world. I enjoyed the calm quiet details of your actions and the thoughts they provoked. As someone who has been dealing with arthritis most of my existence, I thank you for writing your thoughts,


  10. A wonderful, unexpected and thoughtful post. When I'm tired and walking my dog I often think how glad I am that I CAN walk, there's much to be thankful for :o)

  11. Yes I am amazed the dexterity you have to prepare the veggies before the water is ready to receive them.

    I do have arthritis, but not nearly as bad as many of my friends my age with the rheumatoid variety.

    Mine bothers me with clumsy typing, camera positioning, etc. Have a lovely SUNDAY. Ours is just beginning.

    By the way, the US Californians are adoring the new royal couple's visit. The are both charming and elegant.

  12. First of all let me say how much I like the photo illustrating this post! Lovely angles and what a wonderful colour blue.

    Secondly I loved your beautiful descriptions! "carrot batons, rich, glowing red-orange, with slightly paler hearts." and "your vegetable still life."

    I really enjoyed your meditative post Jinksy. :-)

    Thanks very much for linking it to I Saw Sunday. x

  13. Jinksy, bravo for the thinking, and for transforming it into such a wonderful thought-provoking post. Bravo.

    We're picking mange-tout at the moment faster than we can eat them, so our neighbours are also enjoying that instant snap. No need for knife, fingers do the job. The runner beans are just starting, and I make a point of eating them the moment they're picked. Jock dug up one root of new potatoes, but they're not really ready yet.

  14. You have made something out of nothing.

    Consciously doing even the most mundane task turns it into an event, a work of art; becoming aware of a simple action instead of remaining on auto-pilot suddenly lifts clouds and lets light in.

    I found this exercise really worthwhile.

  15. Very nicely described. It would be quite exhausting to be this conscious about everything one did, though..

  16. Usually busy , we take these things for granted ... but you've made all of us stop for a second and realise how precious these moments are .
    There is treasure everywhere !


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