chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: dishes



purple platesMy house is a blonde. When you walk in the front door, what you see is light. She wasn’t always that way. When we met, back in 2005, she was drab and worn, solid and serviceable but in need of a makeover — one of those before-and-after jobs that look so easy in the magazines, where you rarely see what comes between Before and After.

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and set-to with determination, cash and a paintbrush. As her personality evolved, I felt a strong call: purple dishes. Having forgotten to get married, I never got my set of regulation dishware. My cabinet has always been filled with an eclectic assortment of thrift shop purchases and family hand-me-downs. So when I got the purple urge, it wasn’t Macy’s or Williams Sonoma that spoke to me, it was Value Village. The mugs were the easiest to find; the bowls the most difficult. The plates and saucers stacked up one by one, the old white and green and blue dishes returning to the donation bin on the next run.

One dish at a time is not the easiest way to buy china. But each time I emerged from the Salvation Army store with a 99-cent purple plate in my hand, I felt the satisfaction of a budget-conscious recycler, the excitement of an archaeologist and the mouth-watering anticipation of meals to come.

They’re lovely in the cabinet, but like any bride’s fine china, they’re most appealing arrayed on the table. Nothing matches. The purples range from the palest lavender to eggplant — lilacs and violets, amethysts and plums.

Each dish holds the secret of its past — the flavors it has known, the hands that have held it — and I imagine I’m populating my kitchen shelves, and my table, with delicious stories the dishwasher can’t drain away.

a riff on leaves…

November leavesClouds clotted in the east, scraps of clear sky above, rain gathering itself for another drenching. In the cool air, the wan November sun does its best to warm my back as I pick up leaves and more leaves, as if this leaf thing, like the dishes thing, could be done, could be counted as an accomplishment. The yard is freckled, then blanketed with leaves, mushrooms sprouting, cyclamen sending out their curled tendrils.

I read the leaves, like runes, their color and curl, their angle and order, their drift from the source. Some saturated and already well into decay, others leathery, with fat rain drops standing on their tanned skin. Tiptoeing between the shrubs, kneeling to reach across the top of a mounded cedar, I pick the leaves from the feathery green fronds of a twisted cypress, drop them into a bucket, reach and drop, over and over.

Silly, I tell myself, glancing over my shoulder at the still-leafy maples in the next block. The trees aren’t finished, and neither are the dishes, but I persist, today as yesterday, this year as last, in this autumn dance, this moist meditation.