This last week the winds bellowed, then stilled. The sun emerged .. and with it the Coast Guard helo, the ship that saves men and women from death in the icy waters all year round. It was a training day, the aircraft hovering over a point just across the bay from my house. It’s a familiar sound, the chop-chop reverberating across the water, the shredded air and sound hitting the cliff my house sits on and shuddering up through the windows, the walls.
That ship has come for me at least once when I was lost, alone, on the sea in a blizzard (another story.) And it has come for members of my family far more than once. (Have we thanked them enough?)
The chopper hangs in the air with rescue swimmers poised at the door to leap into the still-troubled seas. They’ll be at it all day. We know these women and men as heroes. When we are battened down under the worse gales, they are the ones who leave the safety of the hangar to fly into blinding storms, to leap out of a bucking chopper to plunge through night air into a furious sea---that someone might be pulled alive from a sinking boat.
Their lives and stories are good enough for the movies. For television. For an entire television series.
Living under such a sky, where heroes hang literally outside my kitchen windows, where storms swirl and howl my own insignificance, I should always think profound and spiritual thoughts. But I don’t. I also live under a roof, in rooms with their own climate patterns. Rooms filled with people happy and grumpy, ecstatic and brooding. Every rooms gathers its own particular dust and dissonance, but the kitchen seems to be the special site for “He does/She does” dramas. I write and display them here because I have confidence in the universality of kitchen conflict, and in the hope that you will not think less of me for such humanness. Here are the sites of skirmishes: (And do cast your vote!)
DISHWASHER: Silverware up or down?
HE: Up, [they get cleaner because of the water action].
SHE: DOWN (they stay cleaner because you insert and remove them without putting your dirty hands on the eating end)
PANS: Stacked or “placed”?
HE: Neatly stacked in the cupboards in ascending order, which brings symmetry and rightness to the world (but also means a complete re-stacking every time you use them.)
SHE: “Placed” randomly and creatively, so that every time the cupboard is opened----surprise! Saves minutes every day. Even when they all tumble out. Simply lift, replace, and shut the cupboard firmly.
HE: For containing and organizing mail, bills, tools, the everyday detritus of life, all of which should be lined up, visible, and immediately available at all times.
SHE: For food preparation and dining only, please!!
TABLE SETTINGS: Full silverware or just what’s needed?
HE: Always full silverware regalia, regardless of any circumstances, mitigating or otherwise.
SHE: Decisions made on an ad hoc basis. Company? Full wares. Wonderful homemade dinner? Full wares. Eating and running? Leaving on a trip? Trying to get to church on time without leaving a mess behind? Only the necessities.
HE: Sinkers. Everything except the lettuce is chopped into perfect tiny squares, regardless of texture, assuring that every bite is modulated and organized (and assuring their sinkage to the bottom of the salad bowl.)
SHE: Floaters. Every vegetable is cut according to its kind. The cucumbers----sliced thin and wafery. Carrots, peeled into orange wisps, etc. assuring floatage and every bite a representative sample of all ingredients.
Oh, who will rescue us from the kitchen of this mess?
It already has been done. Here, after decades of marriage, in this place where we have chopped and sauted and fed and prayed and served our family and many guests, we are at it still. The parrying continues, in the kitchen and in other rooms, but I look out my windows over my (sometimes cluttered) counters and see them there---the presence of those ready to drop from the sky to save the drowning.
So like another rescuer, who has hovered over my sorry life and plunged in, pulling the exhausted from thrashing seas---and returning me and all of us to Life. Again and again. And He will not stop, even when we see nothing but roof and sky over our heads.
How do you fill your dishwasher and set your table? Do you know that hovering presence, and have you been pulled from the waters?