Monday, September 23, 2019

A Truly Beautiful Bowl Of Soup

"Oh mother, we must finish making our soup!"

"Yes dear, we will, but first we need some more roasted potatoes."

"Yes mother."

The girls were doing what children have done forever: making mud soup in a bucket. Their game had dramatic urgency as they rushed about gathering ingredients, stirring them in with a shovel, then foraging about for more. I couldn't help but connect their game to our human ancestors who spent their days hunting and gathering: they were playing an ancient game, one somehow passed down through the generations.

No one teaches this to children, but on every playground, in every backyard, in any place where children have access to water, containers, and something to gather, they make their soups and stews. These are typically not solitary games. They are games of community, of working together, of negotiating, and sharing, games that tie us together in the present as much as they tie us to our common past.

"Oh, it's not ready yet mother."

"Yes dear. You have to keep stirring."

This particular game was about a mother and her daughter, about one child pretending to teach and reassure the other the way parents do. This particular game was a polite game, where everyone spoke solicitous words in clear, calm voices. It was both artificial and aspirational, I think, as the girls examined relationship from a dispassionate place, like in a storybook.

This making of mud soup is not mere child's play. It is the work of a lifetime; soup every human who has ever lived must learn to cook.

"Mother, is it ready yet? The guests will be here soon."

"Yes dear, it's ready now."

As they offered me the first bowl of their roasted potato soup, I noticed that it contained dozens of green cherry tomatoes and marigold blossoms from our garden. It was a truly beautiful bowl of soup.

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