“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
(one of many piles of accumulated cookbooks / Julie Cook / 2020)
Once upon a time, long ago and far away…long before there was a thing
known as the internet…
a time when landlines were all that we knew for communication and payphones
were the only way we could touch base with others when away from home…
it was a time when the printed word was all we had—newspapers,
magazines and books…it was a time when the printed word connected us
to what was and what could be.
Our world was intertwined and deeply entrenched with all things typeset.
And so I am finding that during this trying time of packing up my world…
I’m finding that I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of books I have
accumulated over the years.
As an art teacher with a proclivity for the Renaissance, as an
armchair historian who devours all things World War II,
as a huge fan of Winston Chruchill, as a person deeply interested in Christian symbology
and mysticism…I have amassed a small personal library.
Heck, it’s more like a decent sized library.
Books, books everywhere a book!
So during yesterday’s sorting, the task was to puruse, purge and pack cookbooks.
A love of cooking has run deep in my veins.
I had grown up watching Julia Child’s cooking shows with my mom.
Later it was Atlanta’s own Natalie Dupree.
Any and all cookig shows on PBS.
Throw in all of Mother’s Southern Living cookbooks and I learned early on
the importance of food—
an importance that reaches far beyond mere sustenance.
Food is communion.
It is a tie that binds.
My mom was not the greatest cook but she could make wonderful,
made from scratch, biscuits.
Whereas I did not inherit my mother’s biscuit magic,
I did develop however a love for the magic that rests in the
creativity of any kitchen.
Yet I can vividly remember the day I felt defeat when my mother discovered the thrill
of the cooking bag and hamburger helper.
I, on the other hand, was growing more and more fascinated by all things French,
Itlaian, fricased and sauteed.
So as I was knee deep in the cull taking place in the kitchen,
seeing so many of the older books–
my mind suddenly went racing back to a different time.
This is from a post I wrote back in 2013–it was a reflection about my life in 1986…
the year mom got sick.
“Many years ago when my mom was in ICU battling cancer, and I was a
newly married young woman, I would go each day to the ICU Waiting Room
carrying an armload of cookbooks–upwards of 8 at a time.
As I would sit for hours waiting for the three 15 minute times of visitation allowed
in a 24 hour period, I would read page per page, cover to cover of every type
of recipe and cookbook imaginable.
It was my therapy and my catharsis.
Maybe I needed to know that in the dark shadows of death,
where I had found myself in a vigil for my mom, Creativity,
which I equate with life and living, was still very much present and attainable.”
I should add that I was driving about an hour and a half each day over to Atlanta just
to sit in that ICU, only to drive that hour and a half back home each evening.
A sorrowful ritual that I kept up for 9 weeks.
It was a lonely and very difficult time…but I found an necessary diversion
as well as solace in my cookbooks.
They were cookbooks that my aunt had bought on her various trips and books I had found
while rumaging through the cooking section of every book store I could find.
So as I made the difficult decision yesterday of what books I would keep and what books
I would “release”–I found myself feeling a heavy sense of sadness—
sadness not so much over losing some long loved books, but rather sadness over the fact that
we live in a time when books are becoming obsolete.
Despite my cullig and purging, I fear our movers will be none too pleased when they
find the number of boxes full of books that I have packed up.
Boxes I can’t even begin to pick up…as in they are heavy as lead.
But some things will just have to make this journey with me.
Solace that will be there for me as I unpack in a new world come January.
The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest,
and the books, especially the parchments.
2 Timothy 4:13