Posts Tagged ‘rain’

The Art of Writing

It is the beginning of a new semester, and today I taught the first session of MUW’s introductory multi-genre Creative Writing class. As usual, as I walked the dog and gathered my thoughts before class, my thoughts turned to what we can teach about writing. It occurred to me, that in creative writing classes, we often gravitate to discussing what works (and what doesn’t). Sure, we want to move a an audience, but we often gravitate to the lowest common denominator, to the pragmatic approach. So one of my resolutions for the semester is to remind my students that writing is an art.

In class, we were discussing our goals. It was a good place to lay the groundwork by reminding students that in a creative writing class we focus more on the artistic side of what is said. When we write an essay, we care about communicating the ideas or making an argument. Those things matter in creative writing, too, but we focus more on the sound of the words or the patterns of a sentence. We have the luxury of writing something because we think it’s beautiful. (An essay written in rhyme might be unique, but I would still grade it primarily on the ideas, not the rhyme scheme.)

My goal in in this is to encourage students to move beyond the pragmatic and think about the beautiful. Of course, they don’t have to be opposites. Voltaire, in describing his utopia of Eldorado, praises it for making the practical beautiful. If I can begin to instill in some of my students a love of language and an attention to its subtleties, then I will be happy.

As I reached the farthest end of a cold gray walk along the river, which was already nearing flood stage, and as the dog and I turned around to come home, the looming clouds unleashed a steady rain that didn’t stop all day. Yet despite the cold and rain, the river retained its beauty and showed off its power.

Muscadines and Peanuts

It’s another Farmer’s Market Saturday. I was glad not to get wet, as we’re still in the deluge cycle, and I walked without an umbrella (too much to carry with one). It was fine on the way down, then poured cats and dogs while I was there — glad they have a roof over ours — but let up after awhile, and I made it home in a drizzle.

I bought a gallon of muscadines for $5.00 — now I have to figure out what to do with them all. It may be more than we can just eat! This morning I made some muscadine, quince syrup for our pancakes. This is the kind of fresh fruit syrup I try to make whenever we run out of real maple syrup (another gallon is on its way, but wasn’t delivered in time for our weekly pancakes). This is a ‘recipe’ I’ve adapted from my Mom’s:

1 cup or so of water (depending on how much you want to make)
1 table spoon or so of corn starch (depending on how much water)
1 cup or so of sugar (to taste)
Fruit — I used two generous handfuls of muscadine grapes (seeds removed) and two small quince from our quince bush (cored and seeds removed)

Boil the water and sugar. Mix the corn starch in a little cold water before mixing with boiling water. Cut up fruit and add to boiling water. Boil until syrupy. If the fruit doesn’t break down enough for your tastes, puree in the blender for a few seconds. Serve piping hot on pancakes. Leftovers make good cold syrup for over ice cream.

The pancakes and syrup turned out great. My trip to the market also yielded red and green peppers, Thai eggplant, honey, and eggs. Earlier in the week, I had picked up 2 lbs of raw peanuts in the shell, which Kim is now boiling in the crock pot with 3 tbsp of salt, water to cover, and a jalepeno. You could use other hot peppers — we hope this doesn’t get too hot! We made these last week with cajun spice, and they were great, but not quite hot enough. So we’ll see how this goes.

All the rain we’ve gotten in the past two weeks hasn’t helped our farmers much, but we’re thankful they can still bring some things in to the market. It sure beats mass-produced food from the grocery store, though we’re glad to have Kroger for the things we can’t get at the market. We’re glad to get organic produce there, and to have one farmer who’s certified organic at our market, too!