Memories and Musings


Our home is a jumble of boxes and things that won’t or have not yet fit into them. The roots of life and everyday living are dangling sideways, slumped on couches, leaning toward windows as if looking for the light they had so carefully known prior to the decision to go back to Miami, back to the Big City, back into the New Quest.

We arrived, (once again) to “the Southernmost City” in the direct aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The man we bought our home from was born on Key West and explained that what happened was “truly unusual in that the Lower Keys flooded when the storm came in and then again…when the storm filled up the Everglades and it came a-gushing back at us before finally leaving us be”. The home we bought got wet up to the four-foot mark, but stood another test of time and nature.

The roots of life ripped asunder then were of a Gulliver scale compared to these lists of things to do; change mailing address, get rent deposit check out, send the dog’s rabies vaccination information, pick up the last of the dry cleaning…but still…change is change and the human heart and mind seeks a steady ride most of the time.

The home we have made here is beautiful and comfortable. I love the soft light that enters from the deflected sunrise in the morning and the simmering down energy of sundown. I love the books that surround us and beckon with memory and invitation. I love the town we can be so casual and reminiscent in. We came to this place while I was 21 and my wife-to-be just 17 years young. The shrimp boats in the harbor just across U.S. 1 have bobbed in their ancient rhythms from well before I came and will long after I go away. The chickens will make more chickens and the cats will eye it all with suspicion.

Questions arise in my mind too. What do we take, what we will need up there now, this time?

The world of ‘Chef and Janet’ has taken on new opportunity, maybe even… a new calling.

I think of eggs and get up from my morning reverie. Let’s see… there are only two days left before the moving truck arrives. Don’t want to make too much of anything. Even though we have a friend coming to take up one bedroom and watch over the place he won’t need the packed pantry and refrigerators of the four of us eaters, culinary explorers, cookbook recipe testers. The freezers alone could feed one through a month or more of steady dining, never mind the cupboards and canned goods.

I decided on three eggs. I took out a middle-sized pan and topped them with an inch or so of cold water and put it on the heat. I stayed nearby at the dining room table rather than the office in a former bedroom so I could hear the building percussion of the water bouncing the egg shells ever so gently, yet insistently. I wanted agitation, action and a build up of the heat needed to transform the eggs from refrigerator cold liquid, to jelly, to warm custard but I didn’t want the violence of a break-in. I listened and though I wished to read one more paragraph of the review of a newish Neko Case release I had to get up and watch the mounting moments in the egg’s newly becoming , transformed world.

The smallest bubbles arrived under the middle egg first. I wondered why. They nearly tap-tap-tapped on the shell as if mimicking a yet-to-be-born chick’s means out. The smaller, beady, swiftly streaming bubbles gave way to larger, more bass bubbles that seem to form, (inhaling from where, how?) and then burp in the shallow, clear depth of the now very hot water that held my three changing eggs.

I watched taking care not to let that unwanted moment to come when the sheer force of temperature spread it’s large bouncing molecular dance band booming out of control and allow the smashing the thin shells of breakfast. It seemed to take forever, this watched pot. And then it was time, (so said the bubbles).

I moved the pot off the direct heat and covered it with a clear lid and set my timer. The book I believed in most of the time regarding egg’s cooking times said, “12 minutes”, but my three eggs were on the more bantam-weight side so I set my timer on 10 and went back to reading. Time flew then! I jumped up with the buzzer’s prodding and quickly removed the lid and began a steady stream of cold sink water over the now pulsating, quivering eggs. They cooed and quieted down. The quiet of the home around me returned but for my occasional keyboard clicks and sips of Cuban coffee.

I finished the review and looked up.

The boxes looked back, roots still looking for solid Earth.

Eggs ready to be shelled, once again.

© 2023 Norman Van Aken. All rights Reserved.