The question reminds me of an emergent reading book that I’ve used with my young students. Mrs. Spot, Mrs. Spot, what have you got in your cooking pot?
Just one week after committing to working on my big writing project,–the memoir–for ten minutes daily–just ten minutes each day–I’ve got something else cooking. A couple of something elses, actually.
The memoir is, therefore, being returned to the back burner–its default position it seems–where it can simmer quietly while I focus on the front burners, one of which is heating up real quickly and needs my immediate attention and the other which will require occasional stirring over the next eight months while its contents slowly thicken.
So, what’s cooking now, you ask?
Without much effort on my part, I have found myself chairing a committee to put on a 5k race. The PTA at my school started kicking the idea around last fall. I happened to mention, at one of the meetings, that I was on the board of the local running club and could find out a lot of good information for us about timing runners, insurance, advertising, choosing a date that didn’t conflict with other races in the community, and other considerations.
Shortly after my kind offer, I was holding a large pot and a recipe card with nothing on it except 5k, preparation time three months, actual cooking time two hours.
And, though the starting gun just went off, I can already feel the heat of a burner set to high.
You see, the 5k is happening in April. That gives us just three months to bring this concoction to fruition.
I must say that I did take the pot willingly. Though I have plenty going on in my life, organizing a 5k race sounds like a lot of fun. A small race like this is all about the kids, the joy of exercising, and building community. How could it not be fun?
(I say that now.)
So, yes, I gladly took the pot when it was offered.
Since we’ve never held an event like this at our school and since I’ve never been involved in planning a race, let alone taking the lead, this 5k will be produced (almost) from scratch. I say almost because my experience with running a few 5k’s will help tremendously in thinking through the hosting of one. The first night that I felt the heat, I awoke at 1:30 a.m., realizing I needed to start listing my ingredients. Now. The burner is on high, already, the blue flame visible, licking the air, in my face, because the pot is not yet on the burner, not yet on the burner because there’s nothing in it, nothing in it because I hardly know, at this point, what’s required, nothing in it because I’m just toeing the line, toeing the line of a long list of preparations, a long list that does not yet exist.
By 2:30 a.m., I had a three-page planning chart.
Me? Cooking from scratch? Who’d a thunk. What I know at this point is that I want my 5k to turn out better than most of my cooking endeavors have. Thank goodness for the great team of ancillary cooks–fellow teachers and parents–that will be in the kitchen with me.
On my other front burner, I have a less demanding recipe, but something that, nonetheless, needs my attention as well. Over here I’m whipping up some French cuisine. This dish requires reading and researching and learning as much as I can about the country of France, which is where my daughter is going for her Rotary Youth Exchange experience, which will start in August or September.
So the 5k is on high, the French cuisine on medium, and my memoir? Well, it is once again on the back burner, on low, back to low priority status. But here’s the thing with the back burner. As long as there’s a pot on it, and as long as that burner is on, even if it’s just on low, I’ll tend to it. Perhaps not in the sense that I’m adding any more ingredients or even stirring it all that often. But I’ll be continuously breathing it in, mulling it over, as it wafts through my kitchen, in and out of my thoughts. I’ll consider next steps, once it takes its place again at the front of the stove.
So, that’s what’s cooking. That’s what Mrs. Spot has in her cooking pot–planning a big event from scratch, slowly thickening her knowledge of France and the youth exchange experience, and, always, stirring ideas for the memoir.