My family departed this morning for two weeks or more, bound for the wilderness of northern Minnesota, leaving me to tend to projects and beasts both large and small. I don’t mind the solitude as much as once I might have. This is not the same as saying I don’t get lonely, because I do, but I also appreciate the stripped-down nature of my time alone, the way it allows both mind and body to focus on the tasks and thoughts at hand. And of course the small pleasures one allows oneself in such circumstances, most of which (in my case, at least) revolve around food consumption: Drinking straight from the jar of milk, eating directly from the pan in which the meat was cooked, generally at the edge of the fire over which it was cooked, and possibly with no utensils beyond the thumb and pointer fingers, salads picked and consumed in the garden – a handful of lettuce washed down by a few green beans. Maybe a carrot, extra crunchy for the soil packed into its creases. There. A complete meal. It’s not a pretty sight, I’ll grant you that, but the sink remains free of dishes, the food tastes just fine, and I find my body feels best when unencumbered by overly much attention to detail.
Which is maybe a pretty good rule for a whole lot of other things, too.