Jar of sunlight

A damp wet day with the sky hanging over us, heavy with rain. But every time I go into the kitchen, I see this:

A few weeks ago, I had a large container of quartered lemons in the fridge, left over from a party. What to do with them? I love preserved lemons so I used Paula Wolfert’s recipe, coating the quarters with salt, squeezing additional lemons for the juice needed to cover the lemons in the jar. I used the optional Safi aromatics — cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, coriander seeds — and put the jar on the counter so I would remember to turn it daily so the juice could bathe the lemons. It takes 30 days for the lemons to reach the right state of preservation and when that time is up, I’ll use some of them for Moroccan chicken, lively with lemons and cracked green olives.

Quite by chance, today I also read David Malouf’s beautiful poem, “Wild Lemons”, from his 1980 collection of the same title. (His book about Ovid in exile, An Imaginary Life, is one of my favourite novellas.) Here’s a short passage from the poem:

                                        I lie down
in different weather now though the same body,
which is where that rough track led. Our sleep
is continuous with the dark, or that portion of it
that is this day’s night; the body
tags along as promised to see what goes.
What goes is time, and clouds melting into
tomorrow on our breath, a scent of lemons
run wild in another country, but smelling always of themselves.