Yesterday, my day off from the Library, was my second day working in the Mills Lawn Elementary School kitchen. It was hot outside, hotter in the kitchen, and it made my feet hurt and my heart smile. We were making grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, gleefully overriding the male half of the lunch program boss team since he wasn't there: his suggestion of green beans instead of soup, we knew, would NOT fly. I helped construct the sandwiches, then took my break.
I went out and sat under a tree and meditated for a short time. Mills Lawn is essentially a city park with a school set in it, and Yellow Springs is a tree loving community - so it was easy to find a lovely spot. I breathed and emptied my mind, did some simple harmonizing energy work on myself, then opened my eyes. I saw, in all the thousands of clover blossoms around me, one honeybee. I focused on that one bee, sending her blessings and more blessings to carry back to her hive, using my heartmind to encourage their well-being and the increase of their colony and honeybee colonies in general in this area. I surrounded her with light. A small Hawk flew right over me then, carrying a snake. This is the second year for this pair of birds to nest in a Mills Lawn tree. The whole village was delighted to hear about them last year; there was even an article in the weekly Yellow Springs News. Glen Helen, on the edge of Yellow Springs, has a Raptor Center, and every so often they stage a raptor-release event, freeing birds who've been brought to them for healing and rehabilitation and who are now ready to do the "free bird" thing. I think we always hope some of our raptor children will stay with us.
After my break it was time to start stirring big pots of tomato soup. Since the pots were rectangular metal containers, I stirred them in a figure-8 pattern, knowing that the 8 carries a lot of healing and harmonizing energy. A lot of good intention went into that canned soup. After it was thoroughly heated, we fired up the steam table, set the pans of soup into place, and covered them. The sandwiches were ready to be removed from the ovens. We took out the big trays of baked grilled cheese sandwiches and set them on racks in the warming cabinet to rest and wait for their hungry eater-uppers. Then it was time to cup-up servings of soup and put them on trays into the warming cabinet as well. It's clean up, clean up, always clean up as you go along in food service. That's what we did, running finished trays, pots, utensils through the big sinks or through the Hobart. I've always loved running those Hobart dishwashers, no matter how hot the weather. I think it's a fine thing, all that business of lowering the door with a lever, hearing the shoooosh! of the steam and power wash, and raising the door to pull out clean stuff that's so hot it dries itself.
During all this time I'd gotten in hello's and brief visits with friends who teach at Mills Lawn. One of them is the mother of my daughter's dear friend Naomi, who was doula for my granddaughter's birth in December. My daughter just performed Naomi's wedding in Cleveland last weekend, so I got to hear all about that as I was running around the kitchen. School visitors and volunteers came by as well. Martha, who bakes bread downtown, reads at school on Wednesdays, and does great work for Heifer International, gave a great big smile and a wave. She and I worked hard on the High School Lunch Committee last year, so we've got some kitchen-sister history. Patti Dallas, one of the local videographers, showed up with her camera and we found out something about the video she's doing on Yellow Springs now.
Line setup done - time to serve - and the first and second graders showed up good and hungry. Some of them recognized me from the library, and that was fun. First and second, break; third and fourth, break; then fifth and sixth. They surprised me in such a sweet way! I had recently performed with my HOOZITS* in the school music festival, accompanied by the "Borchestra" (the HOOZITS' name for the combined band/orchestra). They had played Music Al's song that he wants to teach the whole world. We'd had a lot of fun in rehearsal, and it was a good performance, and then it was over. But it wasn't over, as it turned out. There in the lunch line were many of the Borchestra members, and before I knew it they were all singing Al's song to me - and I was slapping those cheese sandwiches on the trays and singing right along.
Lunch was over at last, and we two kitchen ladies and Steve, the janitor in the spring-heel shoes went into serious cleanup mode. The kitchen was good and hot from all that Hobart steam. We got it all shiny and spotless, and finally we were done. I went home to put up my feet and take a nap. But first I just had to go over to Music Al and tell him all about the fifth and sixth graders. "Al! It's working! They're singing YOUR SONG, Al! They're all singing your song."
This morning as I'm writing, my eye is on the clock. I'm due at the library by 8:30, and Thursdays are my one eight-hour day there. Usually I work four-hour shifts. I'm wondering what the lunchroom crowd kids who also show up at the library after school will say to the lunchroom-library-puppet lady! I'm enjoying this current mix of employments, and that's all I know for now.
*To read more about the HOOZITS, follow the ON WITH THE SHOW! link at the top of the page.
This article was originally published in Gather in 2007.