Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Bean soup, by Dawn Finch

I won’t lie – it’s been a difficult year. I know that has been the same for everyone but when your career vanishes and you haven’t seen your folks since 2019 and you can’t see your child… it’s hard not to take things personally. I went into the Pandemic as a writer and library worker and am coming out the other side as a food writer and owner of a food social enterprise. When my income disappeared I had to find a way to make a new living, and had to do this. I've seen lots of people struggling over the last year and in my role as CWIG Chair there have been lots of conversations about how to adapt, and about grants and financial support. I have many times tried to answer heartbreaking emails from people who feel that nothing will ever be the same again.

I am lucky, and I know that, and at times I’ve felt very guilty for that. I’ve often felt as if I’m not entitled to moan about the other stuff - the loss, the loneliness, the separation, the cold acceptance of a a career in ruins. I had the skills a local food project needed and was given a chance to take up a new career and to start over from scratch. Not something I'd ever pictured doing again (especially not in my 50s) but needs must etc.. There have been many times when I’ve felt I shouldn’t be sharing things about my new little business because of the ongoing struggles of others. This has been a year when we’ve all looked at the lives of others and felt we should be feeling as if our problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

We're all a bit Rick these days...

But our problems are a hill of beans, and that hill of beans is something that we all have to deal with in our own way. I had to take that hill of beans and make cassoulet (…literally…) but we all had to tackle our hills of beans in our own ways and it’s absolutely fine to feel as if we struggle with the climb. The ability of others to clamber over hills far bigger than ours does not diminish our struggle.

In that closing scene in Casablanca, when Rick says that to Ilsa, they both know he’s lying. They both know that this hill of beans is agony and that their suffering is very real. In this sacrifice, as he lets her go for the greater good, he isn’t diminishing their personal loss but accepting it.

I’m going to allow myself to slowly tackle the hill of beans. We have lived this moment in history and we are adapting to life with Covid. This new landscape is different, but not ruined. I’m not as bad off as some people, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that for me everything has changed. I know I'm not alone and that's important too. To move forward we need to plant those beans in this new land and see what grows.

The sun is coming over the hill, and there’s always bean soup.

Dawn Finch is a poet, food writer, allotmenteer and cook. As well as being current chair of the Society of Author's Children's Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG), Dawn is the owner of Neep&Okra in Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

1 comment:

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks for this, Dawn.