This is a tale of salt.
About a month ago, as dusk settled, we gathered sea water in a beat up metal bottle. The tide was low, and the waves were relentless. It was freezing- we didn't have the right shoes or coats to be out so close to the water. He gathered what he could, letting each wave greedily seek out socks and cold toes despite the shoes. The ocean was giving her greeting to we who had been gone for so long. A kiss with a bite, as she is want to do.
And then, this moment- snow falling, chill settling, sky darkening day. That briny water boils in an old metal pot, letting the memories stir and dance and twirl in the apartment struggling to keep warm against the falling cold outside. But then! A crust forms, water bubbling beneath the surface. It is followed by its own imitation of the whitening cityscape beyond our window: a tribute from those battering winds on a dark wet night to its lakeside kin far from the sea.
And now the crystalline offering: salt.
What a gift.
An ephemeral string of moments captured in an ephemeral substance.
When I first read The Magic of Making Salt by Michael Ruhlman, I was enchanted. I lived at that time near the ocean and could smell its briny odor from my open apartment window- a memory and space I think back upon often and fondly. I wanted to run down to the water then and there and boil away my own pot to see what I could create. It was realistically a good thing I didn't as I can't vouch for how much anybody would want to be putting water from that port town in their body, but the idea stuck with me.
And then- I found myself in Vermont, a land-locked state. Since moving here, I had yet to be back to the ocean again and it was an ache I could not soothe. Finally, the opportunity arose and I have a small jar of salt to speak to the troubles my partner and I went through to get it back here from its source in New Hampshire.
But, you may be wondering, what will you do with the salt? Why did you make it?
Can the process not be the end goal? Does there need to be some higher reason than pure enjoyment?
The way my senses explored the shifting of aroma: the fishy scent of pure ocean water to a minerality which moved its way throughout the apartment to ending sweetness with a hint of something more full-bodied underneath it--that is the magic. The changing. For an ephemeral moment that still lingers in my mind as the salt lingers on my tongue.
That is why I made salt from water.