The night is warm and damp, the kitchen even warmer. I could put on the fan, but then I’d block out all the summer sounds. This night, the crickets are exceptionally vibrant, frantic in a last-ditch effort to mate before summer’s heat runs out. I’m in the kitchen again, making jam.
It’s not a passion I discuss with many people; most would consider it bizarre. Why after a long day in the office, of trudging through stifling Manhattan streets, why come home to spend hours in a hot kitchen? It’s because of the crickets; because of the pleasure of being alone, the only one awake in the house.
Jam is fruit and sugar, boiled. That’s that. But in fact, it’s phantasmagoric, voodoo art. As the sugar melts, the fruits are pried open to release their livid, red hearts, spilling their liquid secrets. Then it’s a matter of patience. I sit and wait, stir, and go back to sit. A slow nocturnal rhythm develops as my world shrinks to this circle of light. A heady aroma wafts from the pot. I listen. The crickets are mute. I look. Outside, the dark is pierced with fireflies. Inside is the circle of light on the gleaming jars.
Yorktown Heights, New York