I’m a bit of a sucker for old expressions, and salt of the earth is one of my favorites.
English is my mother’s second language. Ditto her parents, and the lion’s share of my relatives on that side of the family. (I also love the expressions lion’s share and heart of a lion. I think it’s a Leo thing). My point is that, while everyone now speaks English fluently, I missed many quintessential old adages in my younger years because they weren’t translated from Portuguese, the mother tongue of many of the first voices I heard. Later, I had fun collecting these sayings, the way some kids collect baseball cards or sea glass.
Also, I like salt. Because, hello, it’s salt. It’s the cure for anything as they say, in its permutations as tears, sweat, or the sea. You can fix just about any emotional malady with those, and if that doesn’t work, there are always French fries (with salt).
It won’t come as a surprise, then, that I got really miffed at myself for forgetting salt in a makeshift recipe for pumpkin bread today.
Me: Arghh!!! [Growling from the kitchen].
Boyfriend: What’s the matter?
Me: I forgot an ingredient. I said this a little too morosely.
Boyfriend: That’s OK, I can go to the store and pick something up.
Me: It’s already in the oven. I shook my head in dismay.
Boyfriend assured me that the bread would taste good anyway, and he was right, made privy to a recent scientific study concluding that anything with pumpkin and chunks of chocolate has a 99% chance of being delicious. Otherwise, he has more common sense than I do and doesn’t freak out over little things like omitting salt. These are also true.
We returned from a quick trip to the coast of Maine this weekend, which is as salt of the earth a place as you will find. The air was sharp. The pewter sand beaches were empty, and the foliage kindled into bright shades of yellow, orange, and red everywhere. Even the seagulls, broadly acknowledged as “rats in the sky” anywhere else, seemed a little regal, like charming, puff-chested protectors of the docks and shores. On the Cape, where I’m from, they’re mostly a nuisance. More than once, I’ve seen a filthy bird hijack a sandwich from the hand of a toddler at a crowded beach, resulting in a fit of tears and seriously ticked off mom. Maine gulls, like everything else there, seem cleaner and heartier. In reality, I know they’re no different and, given a loosely grasped PB&J, they’d stoop to theft, too. I just didn’t see it this weekend. Instead, I watched them do this.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I forgot some salt this weekend, and I remembered some. I breathed in some. I felt it carried on the air, the way Tibetans believe prayers are carried on the wind. I thought about the expression: salt of the earth. And rather than say it, I got to feel it.
What’s your favorite form of salt? What do you do, or where do you go to experience it?