~summer shorts~ two tuna

I had been using my office primarily for brief bouts of stress-crying, not so much for consulting my calendar, and had overbooked my work life beyond what could reasonably be multi-tasked. Namely, I had booked experiments while scheduled to be on a trip to Florida to see my college friends.

After patching up that hot mess as best i can, i arrive home at 3:14 to my husband with a look on his face like he has something he is not sure he wants to say to me, because it might bring on more stress-crying. We are supposed to be out the driveway by 4 to head to the airport, so i am ready to hit the ground running to get everything organized.

“sweetie, as i was leaving work i was given two tuna. They’re in the back of my truck.”

i sprint mentally through the options, but the obvious thing to do is to cut up tuna and throw it in the freezer before we drive to the airport. The equally obvious conclusion is for me to be holding the knife.

I cut fish every which way at work, but never into fillets. I swiftly slice salmon with a scalpel to remove stomach and spleen; i carve out pacific cod otoliths, pluck out their tiny gum drop livers and peel back their scaly skin for a sample of muscle; i plunder sablefish organs, parceling them into preservatives, pausing between each one only to clean my blades with alcohol and flame. I even dissect tiny arctic cod larvae under microscope to count how many even tinier rotifer prey they have been consuming. Microsurgery, this tuna work is not.

I don’t have a fillet knife, or really any knife that i haven’t dulled, so i grab a serrated one, knowing i need something that will saw through a tuna spine.

I gut the first like i would perform a necropsy, not at all the way a fish peddler would do it. Wishing i had time to look more closely at its organs, iridescent gems in bright orange and deep merlot, i toss them unceremoniously in a bag. Two other bags fill with hunks of meat and are lobbed into the chest freezer.

Then we jump into our new family car, which we filled with pancakes one weekend before. Now it is just the two of us, grandpa and nana, heading to the airport. Gray hair climbs up from rich’s chin and licks his sideburns, like a slowly kindling fire; whereas my grays cascade down from the center of my crown like a waterfall. Long hedgerows of queen anne’s lace wind their way towards mist-wrapped coast range mountains across hay fields almost ready for second cutting. I sink into my heated seat and try to breathe more deeply, to consciously embrace this new season in which an older child and a steady paycheck set me free to take a spontaneous solo trip. the encouragement from my husband to do this for myself is the cherry on top. He lets his hand linger beside the temperature setting knob, pausing at 69 until i get the innuendo and laugh. Laughing loosens up my lungs at last. Pulling out my thin, but warm, turquoise sweater, I explain my overthinking process of packing light, including this sweater which can be rolled into a small ball.

“but sweetie, you’re bringing a sweater to florida?”

“yes, for all the air conditioning, and for the cold airplane ride.”

“You’re bringing a sweater to florida… in august? Don’t you want to store up some cold to bring with you?”

Tomatoes, tuna, peaches, and applesauce, all the many gifts of summer bounty, these I will gladly tuck into bags and freeze; better yet, i will pack them into jars and screw metal lids on them and dunk them in boiling water baths (or sister camp boss’s pressure canner, in the case of tuna) to preserve. But if there is one thing i do not want to store as summer days begin to wane, it is cold.

1 comment to ~summer shorts~ two tuna

  • camp boss

    Micro-surgergy this was NOT…!!!! priceless!!! and mi pressure canner es su pressure canner!! it was fun to catch up while tuna did its thing.

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