I certainly am a "comfort" girl. I like the comfort of my own bed, the comfort of my own pillow and blanket, but my biggest comfort comes in food. Grilled cheese and tomato soup, oatmeal and peanut butter&honey toast in the morning, trail mix, ice cream, cinnamon Pop Tarts before a big event (I will be having one before my track meet this Saturday!), and of course, brownies. Warm brownies. Warm brownies with ice cream. A warm brownie sundae. That is the way to my heart.
Anyway, after coming home today from a rainy and cold track practice and showering and changing into my pajamas at 6pm, I decided it was a brownie day. My two favorite parts of cooking are 1) Getting to sample your food and 2) Getting to lick the bowl. And trust me, when it comes to brownie mix, I clean that bowl better than a dish washer. While scraping the edges of the mixing bowl, I was reminded of a picture from an old Christmas card when I was just under two years old. I was Mommy's little helper growing up, and in this photograph I'm doing a fine job helping her clean the mixing bowl! My mom got a lot of criticism for this picture when she sent out the Christmas cards that year because of the raw eggs in the batter. But come on, who can honestly say they have never eaten cake batter or brownie batter or some raw baked good before? If you can honestly say you haven't, then you are one resilient soul! (I apologize for the poor camera quality in this image. I actually couldn't find the picture to scan, but I had used this picture for my 8th grade baby photo in the yearbook, so I took a picture of the picture with my phone camera, which never gives images justice.)
So here's the writing prompt: Find an old photograph, either in a family album, a scrapbook, etc. Just make sure you have some personal connection to it. Look at the photograph, study it, write about it. Put yourself back in that place. How were you feeling? Why were you there? What was the weather like? Open your senses. What's the story? Really try to imagine yourself back in the picture. Free-write for 10 minutes about the picture (or more if you're so inspired!) Try to keep your pencil/pen moving or your fingers typing away the whole time. If you run out of things to write, simply write, "I don't know what to write," until you think of something. I can almost promise you that you will eventually think of something! For Art class one day, our teacher had us do an activity where we had to sketch still-life objects without looking at our paper; we had to keep our eyes on the object the entire time. The point was that he wanted us to paint what we actually saw, not what we thought we saw. When writing about your photograph, keep it out the entire time. Try writing without looking at the paper or screen for a little while (if possible). When we did the sketches in Art class, I was actually really happy with the way they came out; they had a fun flow to them. Perhaps you'll be pleasantly surprised with your free-writes! Please feel free to share your free-writes or parts of them (whatever you feel comfortable with) in a comment; I would love to read about your memories.
Here's my free-write:
Hey, Mom! This here brownie mix is really great. I can't believe you're letting me do this! Eat straight from the bowl?! No bib, no napkin, no nothing! It's all over my face and I lick my lips and wipe my hands on my shirt and you don't do a thing. You just let me enjoy my brownie mix. Are you sure you have to cook it? Could I please just eat it with a spoon? Who knew cocoa powder, vegetable oil, eggs, and water could taste so good? I'm smiling, Mom. This is great. Are you sure this isn't a trap? Some sort of test? Nope. You know, Mom? You're pretty cool. I'm sorry for all those diapers you have to change, and all those nights I keep you awake. Anytime you need my help, I'm here for you (especially if you need help in the kitchen).
I hope some of you get the opportunity to try this free-write. It's also a chance to look back through old photos, which is always fun. Also, more food for thought (no pun intended), where do you find your comfort? What is the way to your heart?