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The taste of strawberries

December 29th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Ted and I have been watching The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition, as have many others. The DVD set was our gift to each other, and it was my gift to Ted to watch it with him. I never knew my wedding vows of for better or for worse included giving half of a day of my life to creatures like Gandalf and Gollum. Okay, I’m joking a bit; I do like LOTR, the books and the movies. But spending 12 hours of precious kids-asleep time (split over three nights) watching it was a high price to pay, even for a good film. Even for three good films.

I complained to Ted too when we saw the films in the theater. Susan Mernit and others have discussed moviewatching habits. I’m not much of a moviegoer or watcher, viewing a handful of films a year (three might be an over-estimate). If I’m going to spend four hours without the kids, I have many ideas how I’d like to enjoy that rare private time and often the thought of sitting before a screen isn’t one of them. Plus, LOTR is lengthy. Once we had to coordinate two babysitters, in shifts, to care for four-month-old Elisabeth for the four hours late at night (TTT, 2002). But I’m grateful now that we did make the time and effort to see them on the screen: watching the movies on Ted’s monitor, although more private, isn’t the same experience.

My life has changed in many ways since The Fellowship of the Ring was released in December 2001. I remember we went to see the film soon after we learned we were expecting our third. I joked with Ted that we should name our child after some of the characters or actors in the movie (that might have come true, if we had had a son). Elisabeth is now more than a mysterious multiplying clump of cells that turned a pregnancy kit stick positive; today she’s a walking, talking, toothy, dolly-toting, two-year-old, twenty-something pounds of adventure and mischief.

I read the books around the time Elisabeth was born, after seeing the first film but a few months before the release of the second. While I waited for her “late” arrival, I figured I’d distract myself with the trilogy. I continued reading them through the first weeks of post-partum. Needless to say, I don’t remember many details from the novels, despite my persistent 2 am feedings-and-readings in the rocking chair (I was a prolific reader during the nursing days). I don’t remember any of the films that well either. Except I can remember the main outline of the plot in a vague way: I remembered the fate of the Ring.

I am not a fan of action films. Truth is if I look it in the eye and confess it: more violence than a G rating is more than I like. Guess I’m not too different from the girl who cried over Bambi. Where I am now, post-Christmas, feeling exhausted emotionally and physically, I didn’t have the energy to engage in the film with intensity. So I sat and watched and reminsced of how our lives have changed since I first saw Frodo on the screen. What I once saw in the movie, from where I stood then, seems strange and foreign, just as what I expect from life has morphed and shifted through time.

Somehow on the first night, while watching The Fellowship of the Ring, I craved fresh strawberries. I think the fellowship was traveling through dark terrain and the idea of fresh strawberries and that taste of the start of summer gave me hope.

The next morning I made French toast for breakfast, opening a gift jar of strawberry preserves. It was the closest I could come to fresh strawberries. It was good. We also enjoyed a friend’s gift of Bainbridge blackberry jam. Delicious.


Then, last night, we watched the final film The Return of the King. As Sam tried to encourage Frodo, he asked him Do you remember the taste of strawberries? [quote]

Sam: [Both are overcome by exhaustion] Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?
Frodo: No, Sam. I can’t recall the taste of food… nor the sound of water… nor the touch of grass. I’m… naked in the dark. There’s… There’s nothing. No veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see him… with my waking eyes.
Sam: Then let us be rid of it… once and for all. Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you… but I can carry you.

I had forgotten this question. I can’t find it in the book in the same place where it appears in the film. Does anyone know whether it is elsewhere in the book? Yes, I’ve forgotten. But somehow my subconscious remembered, it seems.

The taste of strawberries. Who can forget? I’m not struggling on Mount Doom at the moment, but I have felt despair in my life recently. Part of the heaviness comes from physical exhaustion, due to our unusual schedule this fall and the daily needs of sustating our family of five, and part of it comes from fighting big battles in my emotions and spirit through the past year. I think that in my weariness, at times, I have lost my excitement for food. I’ve envied others who relish cooking, celebrating with creative menus. For me it had become a chore. It’s something I must do at six each night or else we starve. I procastinated on planning, scribbling grocery lists seconds before walking out the door, or grabbing basics as I passed by them in the store. In recent months I’ve noticed I don’t often delight in food or savor a simple joy of flavors.

Last Friday morning I delighted in the taste of strawberries. I remembered what it was like to like food. I enjoyed jam. The large red strawberries filled the senses with summer. It was a gift of emotional preserves.

Tags: culture

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 enoch choi // Dec 29, 2004 at 8:48 am

    may God brighten your spirits and grant you enjoyment again…

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