My niece and her family have been staying with me for a week.
'This potato peeler is amazing,' she said as she was peeling carrots for her little boy. He is three and has a thing for raw carrots and cucumber, even for breakfast.
Last year, a friend over from Kent picked up the same potato peeler and exclaimed, 'Isn't it great?!' He had the same one at home.
It's reassuring to know that you're not completely alone in such extreme appreciation of a kitchen utensil. Although I'm the only one among us to have a written a poem in praise of it.
In Praise of Things
Today I want to say something wonderful
about my potato peeler –
the way the ergonomically designed handle
fits snugly in the curve of my palm as if
it was made for the valley of my right hand.
I want to tell you how it is soul-mate
to thick-skinned vegetables –
cloudy tangerine columns of carrot
knobbly orbs of King Edward
how it slides over them as if it might be
wrapping them not unwrapping them
as if it might be whispering
while secretly stealing their skin.
I love the way the steel head swivels
gently rocking from side to side
accommodating each slight
ridge, bump, lesion. Under the skin
everything glistens new born –
vulnerable, true colours rising.
Write your own celebration of a ‘small thing’. Choose something that is functional. It has to be ordinary, of no real value. It shouldn't have any built in emotional value. You might not even realise how much you appreciate this thing until you start looking around you.
Start with the same opening phrase. Tell me just how wonderful this thing is. Be specific about what it does and how it does it. It’s also an opportunity to have fun.
Don’t try too hard to get a secondary meaning in the poem. My last two lines emerged unexpectedly after writing about the physical aspects of the potato peeler for some time.
If we work too hard at a ‘sub-text’, what’s going on between the lines if you like, the poem can sometimes come across as too didactic. Writing needs a lighter touch than that, unless you’re writing an instruction manual, in which case you can be as didactic as you want!
And the secondary meaning might just be that we should celebrate the small things in life.
It was only when I took some photos of the potato peeler for this blog entry that I realised it had a brand-name. I've been using it for years and have never noticed that word written on the underside of the handle. Perhaps because its function is its most important quality I've never even thought of examining it closely - there's never been a need. Perhaps I would have if it had ceased to work properly.
I imagine there are lots of things like this in my life, things I take for granted. There are probably praise poems waiting to be written all around me.