10 March 2014
7:30 pm

T. —

It was such a gorgeous day outside today. Blue skies, no wind, birds singing. Even the island cat was sunning on some recycling bins when I went to pick up Freya at school for lunch in the Abbey.

We are on a split-day schedule, so in the kitchens we work from 9:00 until 2:30, and then from 5 until 7:30. In the morning, we make bread, scones, whatever soup is for lunch, and start to prepare the meal for dinner. After lunch, we wash the kitchen, sterilise everything, mop the floors and put away what needs finishing for dinner. At 5, we come in, put dinner in the oven, serve it up, eat with everyone, and clean up in the kitchen after (evening cleaning is always shorter than the afternoon, because we haven’t used the kitchen enough to get it fully dirty.)

One or two days a week we each come in early at 7 or 7:30 for the breads and scones, but this week is still just a learning week. I made the soup from scratch for lunch today, though — sweet potato and coconut soup for 20+ people. I ate it quickly with Freya — because of her school schedule, we eat the first half of lunch on our own, and I leave before most of the other staff and volunteers have really started eating. When I come back from taking Freya back to school, they’re on to teas and coffees. I arrive back in time for the kitchen cleaning. But a few people stopped me today to tell me how tasty the soup was, so I think I’ve passed my first test. It’s amazing to think I didn’t know any of these people five days ago, and now I live among them, cooking their meals, sharing their stories, engaging with their lives and histories. Robin, one of the resident staff members, is going to Glasgow this week, and asked me about museums there. I used my limited knowledge to share what I know of Glasgow, and helped her wrap up a few extra pieces of cake from dinner today to take with her on the journey tomorrow. It’s not all that far to get to Glasgow, but from here it feels a world away.

Dinner was a roasted courgette lasagna with a coleslaw I made using this industrial slicer and grater. I feel like you’re going to hear a lot about food while I’m here. I apologize if it makes you hungry.

I didn’t know bread takes two times to rise. Three, counting leaving it overnight for the yeast to develop. I prepped the bread tonight, ready for the making tomorrow morning.

What else can I tell you. I wanted to spend the whole afternoon outside. I can already start to recognize the difference between islanders and visitors. Everyone waves. Most people say hello. It’s going to be hard not to know everyone, and I kind of love that concept.

I had a great discussion with Pete, a resident in the Finance office today while he reimbursed me for my travel expenses. He told me I was ‘unbelievably cheap.’ He seemed astonished that I traveled to Iona for £20 one-way. I take that as a compliment for my ingenious planning. But we sat and discussed Edinburgh, the life of an artist (I almost qualify, although at this point I feel more like a professional student…), and what makes Iona tick. At least, the Iona community, which I have to keep remembering is not all of Iona itself.

The best connections seem to come in very unexpected places.

I am already glad to be here. If I had to leave tomorrow, I could already say that I think this has changed who I am. For many reasons. The least of which being that I can cook for over 20 people. That’s a really good foreshadowing for Thanksgiving 2014.



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