Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not a Creature is Stirring

4:30 this afternoon:  A half dozen sophomores arrived at the door, carrying two heavy metal bowls.  One held dough; the other held chopped cabbage, pork, and rice noodles.  They came to make dumplings -- a delicious and time-consuming treat.  For two hours we kneaded, cut, and rolled dough, and then folded small spoonfuls of filling into the thin, round skins.  Then we pinched and boiled them.

The students had purchased the filling and dough at a nearby restaurant -- 15 pounds of each!  That made for 30 pounds of dumplings, or about 12 full plates for 6 people.

We sat at a table piled high with steaming dumplings and chatted as we dipped them in vinegar and popped them in our mouths.

7:00 this evening:  It was time for the dumpling kids to go.  Another group of students came to learn how to make chocolate cookies.  First I tried to get them to help me finish off the dumplings.  They did their best, but there are still 6 full plates sitting on my table.

For the next hour and a half, we measured, stirred, spooned, and baked.  The chocolate-oatmeal cookies turned out perfectly.  Students were taking pictures of every step of the process, and I even spotted a student taking photos of the photos on my fridge.

That group was about twice as big and twice as energetic as the dumpling brigade, and it was fun to have them here.  A few students stayed behind to help me do the dishes.

Now it's 9:15.  The dishes are done, my stomach is full, and I sit in a comfortable chair under the soft glow of Christmas lights and IKEA lamps.  The house is quiet now, after being filled with food and friends for the last four hours.  I have plenty of lesson plans or grading I could be doing, but none of it is urgent, and so I'm just reading, writing, and pondering the fate of my left-over dumplings.

I believe I know what it feels like to be a parent who has just put the children to bed.  These tired, peaceful moments in the evening are all the sweeter for having spent the daytime hours together with the people in my care; laughing, working, playing, and eating.

1 comment: