Spills, Crumbs and Sponges: Little Jewels of the Sublime

My last post refers to a piece of literature—a nonsense poem I consider romantic and rather sublime. Today, I turn to something mundane and how the mundane and the poetic link together in my life. Maybe you’ve discovered such links in yours.

I hesitate as I pen this entry about wiping down my kitchen. After all, who in the world would care?

And yet, isn’t that what this blog is all about—life’s little details that so enrich and comfort, those haunting little things that flood you with memories? So I swallow hard and try to conjure up enough bon courage to reveal the homey detail tugging at my heart: I’m down to my last English sponge.

“Is she crazy?” you may wonder, but I don’t think I am. As I hold my sunrise pink sponge under hot running water, as I squeeze and run the sponge over my counter, accosting crumbs and bits of spills left by those I hold dear, tactile satisfaction squishes under my palm. The feel of the wide, skinny, sponge in my hand evokes memories of my kitchen across “the Pond.”

Typical English and American kitchen sponges

The English sponge is pink; the American is green. If you look closely, you can see the American sponge is thicker.

For two years in that kitchen, as I do from mine now, I looked out the window above my sink. Now I’m back here in California, and as I prepare my husband’s breakfast, I see a hill blanketed green by ice plants. Jays, doves and sparrows feast at the bird feeder under our tree. But the sponge I hold moist in my palm brings me back to my “other” kitchen window (the one across the Pond), where the grass was emerald, the birds also feasted, and the steeple of a church rose behind a building that edged our backyard. A blank, windowless, wall of that building faced my kitchen window, the only saving grace its hanging blankets of hydrangea vines. The leaves on the vines shone scarlet in autumn, and in spring the blossoms bloomed red as the ripest cherries.

Grasp on the English sponge

The wider, thinner sponge feels good under my hand

Can you see that there is poetry in my sponge? The feel of this humble absorbent puts my tiny English kitchen right smack in the middle of my one California. Using that ample-dimensioned and skinny pink sponge gives my spacious American kitchen the temporary feel of a thatched roof cottage in the English countryside.

On my last trip across the Atlantic, before I hopped a plane to come back to the States, I visited a local Sainsburys supermarket to buy packages and packages of my special English sponge. Though sponges are lightweight, they take up suitcase space, so I marched over to the post office, armed with two sponge-stuffed grocery bags. There, I bought a  mailing parcel and sent the treasure to my house in California, USA, via Her Majesty’s Royal Mail.

Now that I’ve reached the end of my supply, I’m slowing down to savor each dish wash and every kitchen counter swipe.

English and American sponges together

Just for fun: here's the difference

The next time you travel, can you trek to a market where the locals go? As you wander down the aisles, maybe an item of humble usefulness will reach out and speak something cozy to you. Maybe you’ll wind up taking the item with you to bring a little bit of poetry to the kitchen chores back home.

Bon voyage,

Rita Elizabeth


About RitaElizabeth

I'm a recently widowed wife and mother who loves to use ideas and experiences from travel to enrich my family's life at home. I blog to share ideas with you and to hear your ideas and comments.
This entry was posted in Domestic Arts, Home, kitchen talk and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Spills, Crumbs and Sponges: Little Jewels of the Sublime

  1. simplydiane says:

    This post is a reminder that beauty can be found even in the mundane. Loved it.

  2. Señora López says:

    A blog post about a sponge has never been so beautiful or interesting to read. This was really wonderful and much needed today. Thank you.

  3. There is so much joy in the small pleasures. I love the way you share bits and pieces of life in other countries. Everyday life, not the tourist stuff. Feels like I am traveling with you.

  4. Thanks so much, Honeybee! With this recession, I feel the need more and more to concentrate on the daily joys, especially the small ones. Oh, and your recipe for Sambar looks yummy. I once had a very good friend from India and learned a few things about Indian cuisine–love it!

  5. Pingback: Spills, Crumbs and Sponges: Little Jewels of the Sublime « carmeridss

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