A Memory of Cabbage, Reprise

I posted this journaling prompt a couple weeks ago on my old site. I haven’t used it myself but I did have the opportunity to introduce it at a workshop with three lovely ladies this past week. It is from Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend from Far Away:

Do a 5-minute writing sprint on… a memory of cabbage… Go!

When I told the workshop attendees that they were going to write for 5 minutes about cabbage they laughed. They especially chuckled when I then read an entrance meditation which urged them to ruminate on the green, stinky veggie. But then they began to write. And write. The results were wonderful. Memory and philosophy was pouring forth. They were impressed by the exercise over which they had originally questioned my sanity.

Earlier this month I had a similar experience. At a meeting of a fledgling writer’s group we wrote from the prompt, “when I think of apples…”

The six of us scribbled for about 10 minutes. When we shared our musings we were all amazed by the humor, beauty, and depth we had reached in so short a time. My writings went to a place I was not expecting and touched on memories I had not given much concern. But a fuse has been lit and new  writing projects are smoldering with possibility.

Even if it’s not cabbage or apples, look around you. Is it a tennis ball, a coffee cup, or a dust bunny (a few of things within my sight at this moment) and just write about it. The memories or connections you will come up with will astound you!

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with these journal prompts. Feel free to leave a comment (anonymously if you prefer).


8 thoughts on “A Memory of Cabbage, Reprise

  1. When I think of cabbage, I remember my grandmother making golabki – wanna hear how that’s pronounced? Gaw-woom-ki. How strange is that? I’ve gone 39 years hearing the word and never seeing in spelled. Polish sure is a funny language. It’s stuffed cabbage.

    At any rate, I remember the house having particular smells for hours before eating dinner. Some good smells and some not so good. Cabbage smelled not so good, but it tasted really great, definitely better than stuffed peppers. The texture was soft and the filling was made with hamburger meat and rice. I doubt I could get my kids to eat that stuff these days, but maybe. My middle child likes pierogi’s – Polish dumplings.

    But at any rate, I try to make home-cooked meals, but it’s not the same. As an adult, I don’t have the same warm feelings as I did as a child, smelling some wonderful smells and being reminded of good, warm, home cooking. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. There was always succulent meats and savory sauces, and well, it just doesn’t have the same smell in my home that it used to as a kid. Maybe I need to hit my mother up for her old recipes before she won’t give them to me anymore.

    Somethings just not the same and I feel badly about that. Maybe it’s because I have kids that are so picky, that we cook more bland stuff. Maybe it’s time to try more traditional cooking. Not tonight though.

    Thanks for triggering some good memories! I might just make this a post on my own blog!


  2. Pingback: A memory of cabbage « Raising Smart Girls

  3. Pingback: Cabbage in the bathtub « wisdom within, ink

  4. Thanks for sharing, Casey!

    Our philosophy on food around here is they have to eat what we eat (within reason, of course). They’re both pretty good eaters – don’t know if that’s ‘a chicken or the egg’ situation though.

    I just posted my own cabbage memory…


  5. My memory of cabbage:

    I grew up on a farm in Ohio, where we raised grain and animals. But when it was time for me to get a job at the ripe ol’ age of twelve, I worked at the family vegetable farm down the road, my sister and me the only girls on all boy crew.

    There I learned how to swear like a long shore man and wield my very own eight inch knife. Harvesting vegetables by hand is back breaking work, and flirting with the danger of sharp pocket knife adds to the drama.

    To harvest a head of cabbage you seek the large heads, dripping with the morning dew as the sun is at about 8:00 a.m. Reaching into what resembles a flower on steroids you place your left hand around the large center, much like gripping an entire bowling ball. Next you push the head to the left with force and thrust your right hand to the stalk base and cut firmly and quickly; the sharp blade creating a whooshing sound. You use the entire grasp of your left hand to lift the head, turn it over and inspect it, peeling away any loose leaves and cleaning up your cut. Next you brush away looper shit (bugs) with your right sleeve and pack it into the half bushel basket, it will be washed later. You leave behind a plant that looks as if it has been tortured, the best part–the center of it removed; leaving nothing but dangling leaves that already smell like rot to further decay in the rising sun.

  6. Pingback: Silly story prompt – A memory of Cabbage | The Sprightly Writer

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