Pantry | porchlight - Indiana Public Media

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The interior of a pantry

I always had a great fondness for my grandparent’s house. It was built in 1928, only twenty-some years older than the house I grew up in. But even at a young age, I saw the differences between them as stark, and also very telling.

There were features in this quiet suburban home that seemed to keep it in rhythm with nature, the seasons, and curiosity. There was an enclosed sunporch just off the living room: ideal for hours of reading by the bright natural light spanning late spring to early fall. A second entrance led to a second porch set up above the street and open to the night sky.

Down in the basement was a dark windowless root cellar. My grandparents had purchased a narrow adjacent lot without any plans to build on it. Room for an ample vegetable plot, a peach tree, and a grape arbor. It all invites a practice that can apply to both pages and produce:  Cultivate it. Store it. Consume it. Then repeat.

That rhythm came straight up through the floorboards from basement to attic. In my dreams, I was always dancing to it. Even as a kid, I could see that by combining skill and commitment with personal interest, the result could be a fascinating daily life especially, I thought, if such a space were mine to design.

I looked at the three feet of carsiding between the sunporch floor and the window sills. Why, you could build two levels of shelving to hold books or record albums there. In the basement, I found a galvanized steel shower stall for cleaning up after hours spent gardening and harvesting. My favorite fruit pie along with my favorite author to sit with after dinner. I came to believe those rituals of renewal would encourage delight and discovery to visit me as constant guests.

OK, truth be told: Those shelves in the sun porch were never built. The grape vines and the peach tree stopped producing and my grandparents stopped canning. Actually, the dance to that particular rhythm had pretty much ended before I was born. As it turned out, that was my grandparent’s curiosity, not to mention their generation. The lesson, though, has endured. Reach out. Welcome in. The available bounty of the natural and the creative can sustain you season by season. It may appear modest but it can also be quite generous. Enough here so that the very act of choosing can all at once seem both limiting and endlessly rewarding.     

Song, Artist, Album

The Seeker, The Who, Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy

My Generation, The Who, Meaty, Beaty, Big, And Bouncy

The Right Profile, The Clash, London Calling

Tangled Up In Blue, Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks

That’s Why God Made The Movies, Paul Simon, One Trick Pony

Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Deep Blue Something, Home

Everyone’s Gone To The Movies, Steely Dan, Katy Lied

Saturday Night At The Movies, The Drifters, The Very Best Of

Both Sides Now, Carly Rae Jepsen, Both Sides Now

Doing The Things That We Want To, Lou Reed, New Sensations