This week I was canning tomatoes. I have written about canning tomatoes before, as have others with far greater expertise. So happy though it makes me to contemplate my row of jars, I find I don't have much more to say on the topic, at least for the moment. It is always a pretty big project, and I have no intention of doing much else at the stove until it's done. It appears, however, that I am unable to keep quiet, all the same. So I thought I'd tell you about my recurring root beer dreams.
Other people's dreams are famously boring. You can, of course, skip this bit, and I won't be surprised or offended. Personally, though, I often find dreams more interesting than the dreamers, if that makes any sense. By dreams, I mean real, while-you-sleep dreams, as opposed to fantasies. Lots of folks seem to have sadly boring (at least to others) conscious fantasies. (Presumably, they do not themselves find them boring-or they wouldn't bother to concoct them.)
I am almost always intrigued by real dreams, though, including my own. I have been amazed by how distinctive and original an ordinary person's dreams may be. It is cheering to think that people in general may have more potential to delight and astonish than is immediately apparent. Unlike some, I am generally pleased when anyone (who seems neither insane nor predatory) offers to tell me about the odd dream they had last night.
For about a year, some time ago, I kept a notebook by my bed, and wrote down all I remembered of my own dreams, right away, when I woke up. This is a fairly common exercise. If you have never done it, you might like to give it a try. You get a ton more detail than anything you might remember as the day rolls on. Sometimes, when you reread there are cool surprises- for example, wonderful (or terrible) puns- often revealing. Eventually I stopped doing this...It required getting up 15 minutes earlier than normal , and anyway, I had accumulated a bookful of dreams to mull over.
This self indulgent rambling is intended to explain why I have the following precise recorded version of my first, long ago root beer dream. I still have this dream sometimes, and it doesn't seem to vary much. After all this carrying on and justifying, I must admit that my root beer dream is not especially astonishing. In fact, it is probably precisely the sort of dream people have in mind when they say they could not be less interested. I am, nonetheless, attached to it. While far from amazing, it is a little weird, and has had two odd side effects. This is the dream:
I am in a little wooden shack/shop, which is actually some way in to a dark woods, off a dirt road. It is very hot out, though cooler in the woods than on the road. I am about 9 years old. The shop is very empty, dark, possibly deserted, dusty; it is overgrown with foliage. The wood is a little like a fairy tale, and a little like a real forest. It's cooler in the building than outside in the woods. Everything in the shop is old-shelves and stacks of food with old fashioned labels, and so on. The cash register is an antique type, very ornate, with the sort of keys that stick up on stalks.
There is a ceiling fan going and a big chest cooler, plugged in and humming, in the corner. I open it and it is full of frosty bottles of root beer. You have to put money in the cooler to slide a bottle out...a dime (!). I don't have a dime. I also don't have shoes. I'm a bit raggedly, altogether.
A grownup comes in, he looks dusty, too. He has a bicycle outside with a wire basket on it, and he buys most of the root beer from the cooler. Plenty of dimes. He opens one with the can opener on the side of the cooler, and offers it to me. It is some kind of homemade root beer; it has a label stuck on it with the writing in pencil. The root beer is all icy cold and tastes incredibly, amazingly good. There are fishing poles and a box of lures and stuff on the counter, and the guy picks it all up and hands most of it to me. He says that the root beer will be "good with the fish," and that we'd better get going. He puts the rest of the bottles in the basket on the bike, and gets on it. I climb on the back, and we ride off, with me hanging on to the fishing gear.
I have no idea who this guy is. He has clearly mistaken me for someone else. I'm going along in part for the fishing, but mostly for the root beer, I think. The root beer is delicious and different -and I have, (after waking), a strong sensory memory of the taste. We ride off down the dirt road. End dream.
Avoiding interpretation, lurid or otherwise, these are the two side effects of my dream: First, I felt compelled to make a collage of it, back when it made its first appearance. The collage was semi-successful, in that it looks alot like the dream. However, it also looks a little sinister, and the dream doesn't feel scary at all. (I was especially pleased with the look of a reflection of the branch in the "window"-in case you didn't notice.) The other effect is that I have, ever since, had a real yen to make some homemade root beer, and to try to duplicate the great dream taste. ( You see, there is a food connection here, after all. You just have to be incredibly patient with my digressive yammering to get to it. ) Told you it was weird.
When I began looking into it, I discovered that it was a pretty complicated deal to make root beer. with ramifications, including the unwelcome possibility of poisonousness. However, very soon, I intend to give it a try- and I will tell you all about it.