A Slow Season

The holiday season always seems to sneak up on me. My calendar quickly fills, weekend after weekend (even weeknights!) and soon enough I am welcoming in not just guests, but a new year. Perhaps it is the fewer hours of daylight that seem to snap the days shut too soon. Or perhaps it is the momentum of the year that builds to a fast pace. Whatever, the reason, the last few weeks always seem to race by.

A recent read of James Gleick’s book “Faster” got me thinking about this annual phenomenon. Gleick examines the passage of time on a greater scientific, cultural, and psychological level. He cleverly presses pause to make readers see how we measure time, impose time, value time. He forces you to notice the current of time as it moves us about our hours, days, weeks. We look at our watches, more likely these days at our cell phones, wishing for more hours in the day to finish our work, hoping that between the two embracing arms of the clock, we might squeeze in a few mere moments.

I recently stopped mid-chop one evening and realized that it was here, in the kitchen, that I find the rare moments where time seems to pass without a care. Hours could wind by before a plate has been perfected, and unless the growls of a stomach sound the alarm, I wouldn’t notice if it was 10 or 2. Of course, that’s not to say that I negligently leave my crusts to crisp. What I mean is that there is no hurrying a pot of water to a boil, no speeding a bread to rise, or finding a shortcut to make a reduction. The laws of physics cannot be bullied into the 21st century rush. There is no immediate gratification. One is forced to wait.

While some might squirm at the notion, I must say, the wait is part of the dining experience, the anticipation and the tease. The oven warms, the smells tantalize.  The cozy climate prompts any guests to take off their coats, pocket the time-tracking cellphones. Stay a while.

So while the winter days may close early, the kitchen is open late. If you come on by, don’t mind the wait.