Monday, September 19, 2011

Canned Words

Words in a jar -- pickled, spiced, or sweetened; preserved to sustain life through the winter months. If I were the canning type, that's what I'd boil up and distill into tidy canning jars. I'd arrange them just-so in a pantry, and not alphabetically, not at all. Words, to my great delight, arrange themselves, thank-you-very-much, and are not usually amenable to snug quarters. They are, however, ready and waiting to be gathered up and poured over any occasion, giving it life and memory and color.
In case you hadn't noticed, I love words. I love dwelling in their chaotic midst, absorbing their flow of energy as they fall out of people's mouths, out of the TV set, out of the radio or a novel or the newspaper. Words swirl around me, or wait quietly to be discovered inside a greeting card, or tumble from my own mouth as I answer the phone.
Words.
To capture them and preserve them with the steady hand and the slightly crazed passion of a canning Mom, now that would be wonderful. I'd snip all the warm, nurturing words and boil them down to a thick gravy or soup. Into the jars they'd go, for sustenance on chilly, bereft days.
Spiced words would go into another rack, with generous amounts of color and sparkle to pepper my dialogue when the conversation goes bland.
Into another bevy of glorious Ball Jars, I'd pack in simmered, savory words of Forgiveness; to surround me when I've done wrong, or to pour on the sagging shoulders of someone who needs them desperately.
Delicious words would be in their own category, like so much sweet chocolate -- words like giddy, zenith, savvy, vivid, zephyr,bombast and benevolent....preserved simply for their sheer elegance. These words are to be used sparingly, keeping their rich texture and dizzying impact inside the vortex (another really cool word).
Words of good humor and grace would be gathered and sprinkled with dashes of light and air. These would be tossed generously into every verbal encounter, lingering softly at the edges of each day.
I'd so like to radiate virtue and good upbringing by saying all negative words should stay out of the pot. But I know some of them will get in there, and many will slip unnoticed into the jars. When they spill out -- and spill they will -- I'd have a jar of wit nearby, to absorb the acidity.
Patience would be parlayed, stirred slowly and condensed into phrases like "it's okay," "let's try it again," and "I don't mind waiting." Such phrases would be carried in a portable pantry at all times, as patience is trending at an all-time low.
A few jars of whimsical expressions are a must for any word lover's pantry. Pithy little morsels like "finer than frog's hair," and "the bee's knees". Or "throw me over the fence my coat" (a solid Pennsylvania Dutch combo) and "shut the door, were you born in a barn?" to keep our farming heritage in view.
Jars and jars of comfort to soothe aching hearts, to serve in seasons of grief.
Plenty of sunny words, the kind that float up to the top and land unexpectedly on the crest of someone's stubborn noggin.
At least one jar of pure laughter - the belly shaking, tear making variety - for immediate relief during tense or uncertain times.
Words of contemplation, for those windswept, snow laden days that take your breath away and make you proud to live in a four seasoned climate.
Words. Chopped, boiled down, colorful and comforting inside jars waiting silently on a pantry shelf. Words ready to be called into action, ready to grace the table of winter, ready to spill summertime all over a plate of want. Words to take away the chill, words to stir the memory and warm the aching heart.
Pardon me while I go and fetch my apron, a large stirring spoon, and an adequate (gargantuan) pot.

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