Is this where novels come from?

We hit a high of 0 degrees today. The snow isn’t melting, even with the sun beaming down all afternoon. The house isn’t quite warm, even though the heat is blasting. I needed to get the oven going.

I found a recipe for a giant chocolate cookie baked in a cast iron skillet. Yep, something gooey and, um, healthy.

The skillet is new, something I’ve wanted for a long time. Cooking in cast iron seems so cozy and homey in an old-timey way. That’s how I felt as I gathered my ingredients, melted butter, measured chocolate chips, and cracked eggs into a bright orange bowl. Everything felt snug.

As I worked, I had my radio tuned to a report about California’s drought, how much worse conditions there are going to get. It was a terrible, disturbing story, the kind with only doom as its subtext. Things are bad on this planet. I don’t need more evidence to believe it.

I stood, mixing in the last of my chocolate chips and butter, reminded that food costs are projected to go up quite a bit because there’s no rain. “How careless I am,” I thought, glancing at the last egg in the carton.

It was one of those moments you hear about, that “And Then I Knew What My Novel Was Going to Be…”

However, I am not a science fiction writer.

A novel about a future of neverending drought with hazy flashback scenes to happier days of chocolate chip cookie baking, throwing away leftovers that didn’t get eaten in time, and washing dishes without a second thought — that would be scary science fiction, right?  That’s what I hope. That was the book that flashed in my brain.

Please don’t let it be the premonition of memoir.


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