My neighbor lives alone and found herself with more celery than she could eat in a week. She offered me some, but I also had too much celery in my refrigerator. I told her to make cream of celery soup and freeze it for casseroles in the winter. Then I shared with her how to store celery so it lasts. “Wrap it in foil and keep it in the crisper. The celery will last forever,” I said.
I prattled on about ethylene gas and how it gets trapped in the plastic bags vegetables come in. The foil allows the ethylene gas to escape, enabling the celery to stay fresher longer. She looked impressed, which made me uncomfortable. I have a fear of disappointing people, even when it comes to celery.
“Not forever,” I retracted. “But, you know, long enough. Maybe a month.”
Later that week, I opened my packets of celery wrapped in foil. The celery was white and malleable, fit only for the compost bin. Celery wrapped in foil does not last forever.
Another bunch of celery arrived in my farm box, and I vowed to do better. I immediately wrapped it in foil and reminded myself almost daily for two weeks to make cream of celery soup and freeze it for casseroles in the winter. The boys love casseroles.
One weekend passed, and then another. I did not have the energy to make a cream of celery soup. I felt like the old celery, tired, and limp, waiting for someone to wrap me in foil so I could steadily release what aged me.
On Sunday, I knew it was now or another contribution to the compost bin. I opened up the celery. The stalks looked just on the edge of having had enough. Relateable.
I took all the celery, scrubbed it, chopped off the bad bits, and put it all in an ice bath to rejuvenate. Then, I made cream of celery soup. I used Jessica’s recipe, which you can find in Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook. After all these years, that is still one of my favorite cookbooks. I highly recommend it.
There is no way to make cream of celery soup look appetizing without an enormous amount of energy I presently lack. There is also no way to wrap me in foil or sink into an icebath to make everything better, but I can continue cutting off the bad bits for my peace of mind. I can focus on making soup (it tasted delicious) and drinking tea. I can immerse myself in books for children and then promote them to my students. My strength will lie in small things.
This is a season that feels like it will last forever, but it will not. It will last just long enough.