Columns

2007.03.07 Somewhere in a chocolate chip muffin lies a lot of virtue

on . Posted in Midnight Musings

By COLLEEN LEDDY

My husband made Sunday Soup this weekend. It’s never officially been called that before; I dubbed it just now when I realized he mostly cooks this soup on a Sunday.  I’m beginning to think he’s moved to make it on weekends when he sees how little I’m accomplishing and fears for his famished stomach in the forthcoming week. I see Sunday as a day to languish with the Detroit Free Press. He needs Sunday to catch up on his writing and talk to coaches for sports stories. He’s Diligent David to my Lazy Leddy.

Diligent and willing to make his own grub—what more could a woman want? And this soup has improved greatly over time. I never used to eat it because it was so bland—it always had a thin broth and lacked flavor and variety. He just threw a few vegetables in a pot of water without even frying the onions first. Potatoes, carrots, brown rice—I think that was the extent of his ingredient list. Lately he’s been jazzing it up. Tofu, celery, cabbage, jalapenos, dried basil from last year’s garden—all kinds of new and nutritious things are being added to the pot.

I ate a bowl today and with a shake of salt, it wasn’t half bad.

“I feel almost virtuous eating this,” I said.

“Virtuous?” he considered the word. “What do you mean? Good? Full of virtue? Virtual vegetables....”

He went on, but I tuned out. I was thinking about that word, virtue.

I tried to make Saturday a chocolate-free day, vowing not to eat any of the gourmet dark chocolate chips I just should not buy. But sometime that day, I cajoled Maddie into doing something in exchange for baking her some chocolate chip muffins. She reminded me of my promise late that night. I don’t mind making her muffins, but I have no self-discipline. I can’t make her Hershey’s chocolate chip muffins without adding my sinful chocolate chips and some pecans or walnuts to the last bit of batter for the last six muffins. I could see the pitfall coming in my chocolate-free day.

After popping the muffins in the oven I looked at the clock.

“Hey, I wasn’t going to eat chocolate today and I didn’t,” I said to Maddie. “But now it’s tomorrow!”

I pointed with a flourish to the clock which read 12:45 a.m. How’s that for virtue? And, boy, those muffins, thick with my heavenly chocolate chips, were so delicious hot from the oven.


The start of national reading month is probably not a good time to note that those of us in the business of reading have a tendency to extol the virtues of reading and promote it as if reading is more virtuous than other pursuits. Who could argue that learning to read and loving to read are anything but good wholesome pure pursuits?

But what about thinking? Is there a National Thinking Month? No, I find, after a google search. There isn’t even a National Thinking Week. It was a cursory search; I didn’t go to any great lengths to see if maybe on the 6,679,999th hit there once was a philosopher type who proposed such a thing. (The Girl Scouts do have something called World Thinking Day but it’s not the kind I’m talking about.)


Although reading is a great way to develop the powers of thinking, just talking about ideas, listening to wise people tell stories, tuning in to the kind of radio programs on National Public Radio all contribute to improving the thought process. Considering other points of view instead of making kneejerk responses to issues—now that’s a virtue.

It’s really not that I think reading is a bad thing. We read to our kids religiously when they were younger—even into the middle school years. I love to see kids read and enjoy the many wonderful aspects of it. I just think we go a bit overboard on its virtues. A whole month devoted to reading and not a single day devoted to the benefits of thinking?

And what about thinking’s lazy cousin, daydreaming? I hate to report: it appears there is not a National Daydreaming Month. A month where the virtues of staring out the window, gazing blankly into space, lying in the grass and looking up at the clouds are celebrated and encouraged.

And where chocolate chip muffins figure prominently in those dreams.

    – March 7. 2007 

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