Thursday, January 27, 2011


It's been a hard week so far. I've tried all my best remedies for winter: eating my favorite comfort food ("death chicken"), drinking glasses of wine, going to an indoor pool with sauna, taking vitamin D, watching DVDs with the family, looking at the price for various destinations on Expedia, sitting in front of a "sunlight lamp," and finally reading Todd Davis.

Still, every day seems like a repetition. Every night I'm tired again. The world stays black and white--black asphalt, black tree trunks, white snow, white sky. The Todd Davis volume I was paging through yesterday had this one in it, "Litany," and it's just the right poem for today:

We assure each other the days must grow short.
Yet our lamentations over the darkness that binds us
to this season are like the grouse's cry, useless

in its petition for the sun to return, to rise on wings
and roam freely above our heads. And so on this
Thursday in January, cold rain seeping from the sky,

ground closed and water running off
with the river, we know no language can hurry
the light from its perch. Like the litany the minister asks

us to speak each Sunday in church,
words will not make God walk across the earth
any faster, heat of the sun flying at his back.

What can we do but repeat the same words over and over to ourselves, waiting to get past this Thursday in January?


edj3 said...

What is death chicken??

Also maybe go to a tanning salon . . . horrible for your skin, sure, but hey we're already half a century old, what are we saving it for?

Jeanne said...

Death chicken is so named because the author of God Save the Sweet Potato Queens, from which I get the recipe, takes it for funeral food. It's a chicken and rice casserole with bacon.

Tanning salon, hmmm. Just me and all the high school girls getting ready for prom!

Alison said...

Please tell me that "death chicken" involves a can of Campbell's Condensed Soup - that would make it comfort food par excellence. (Can you tell I was raised in the midwest?)

lemming said...

The reminds me - I need the death chicken directions - t'was awfully tasty.

PAJ said...

Perhaps what you need is good old-fashioned exercise! You can come help me clear my driveway of the 15+ inches of snow that fell yesterday and last night. Please.

Jeanne said...

Alison, the way I change the recipe, it requires TWO cans of Campbell's cream of chicken soup. I'll post the recipe on FB, but y'all really should read The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love and God Save the Sweet Potato Queens, because they're packed with good stories and recipes.

Lemming, glad you thought so. I still laugh, thinking of the green beans being for PQV like serving turnips would have been for me (here--you're having a bad day, let me make it just a little bit worse).

PAJ, I know, I know. I'm trying to count my blessings. Been through the I don't have a sore throat this morning already. Did the it's not snowing here yesterday, since the big snow that hit you passed just south of us. (It's supposed to snow here tonight, though.)

FreshHell said...

Ugh, I'll pass on death chicken and cans of any kind of condensed soup.

Otherwise, I say to that poem: AMEN.

Jenny said...

Ha, as soon as I read "death chicken" I knew what was meant. My parents have a recipe for funeral pie that operates on the same principle.

I love the poem. That said, I'm feeling slightly fonder of January today than normally, as today is a snow day and I'm all comfy home from work watching The Good Wife. :p

Jeanne said...

FreshHell, the only kind of soup I ever had, growing up, was Campbell's. This could explain why, in general, I'm not fond of soup.

Jenny, I looked up The Good Wife, which I had managed to confuse with the movie of the Oscar Wilde play, The Good Woman. Sounds like a good way to get through today.

Funeral food does seem to be mostly a southern tradition, and there are lots of recipes for different dishes you can take in the Sweet Potato Queens books.

Anonymous said...

I was just reading somewhere about funeral potatoes. Hmm, it was an article -- but I think the Lutherans in Minnesota might have these things, too. Anyway -- I am sorry about the weather. I think you should come here for a visit!

FreshHell said...

Jeanne, me too. Especially post-divorce. I now find it too salty and my kids won't eat soup so I just make my own.

I don't know a thing about funeral food. I don't often find myself in a church and when I do (for a funeral) I rarely stay for the reception.

Jeanne said...

ReadersGuide, that sounds right. Minnesotans have a lot of small-town traditions you don't find outside the south.

FreshHell, I don't know much about it either; I haven't been to a funeral, I don't remember when. I've been to a memorial service. I haven't made any food for the bereaved.

PAJ said...

Not fond of soup?! No wonder you're depressed all winter. I couldn't survive all this ick without bowls of hearty vegetable soup, lentil soup, potato and sausage soup, beef stew, chili, or any of a dozen other family favorites.

Jeanne said...

PAJ, I don't count chili or stew as "soup." Maybe you should send me some recipes! I am most dreadfully tired of all the stuff I usually make.

edj3 said...

We live on soup during the winter--although my soup trends closer to stew because I don't care for brothy, watery soups. I rotate between a spicy vegetable soup (no meat at all), a turkey chili, a mushroom barley soup and sometimes a really yummy lentil soup.

Jeanne said...

Elizabeth, you too could send me some recipes, please! I'll reciprocate with a strange beef and cabbage with cheese soup my mother-in-law once made and I asked for the unlike me, especially back then!

Kailana said...

I am getting very sick of the winter, too. It never seems to end and we keep having storms...

Jeanne said...

Kailana, it seems endless to me, too. I usually don't have this much malaise until February!

Karen K. said...

I was in a book group once that read the Sweet Potato Queens, and for our meeting that month we had a potluck and everyone used recipes from the book. It was mostly chocolate desserts and deviled eggs. Then we had a sleepover.

And my favorite soup is avgolemono which is a Greek chicken rice soup with lots of lemon. Very easy and perfect for a cold day! Hope your weather improves.

Jeanne said...

Karenlibrarian, that sounds like one great book club meeting--there are some terrific recipes in those Sweet Potato Queen books (I'm a big fan of deviled eggs).

I looked up how to make avgolemono soup--I'd never heard of it before, but it sounds pretty good!

As a kid, I unintentionally memorized Sendak's Chicken Soup With Rice, and still enjoy any occasion for saying the one for the month in which we eat chicken soup with rice (in January, it's so nice, while slipping on the sliding ice...)