I spent most of yesterday suspended in some sort of strange stomach virus limbo. I didn’t feel sick enough overall to conclude without reservation that I, indeed, had some digestive malady, and, yet, every time I’d get within sight of most foods or within nose whiff of most smells, I would feel my poor stomach turn ever so surely toward aversion.

Normally, I would just put my feet up and resign myself to a day of rest, but it was the day of my husband’s birthday party. So I decided to tough it out, thinking that unless I actually vomited, the show must go on.

It was in this state that I met my first rutabaga. It had been part of my CSA box, and I had shoved it to the back of the crisper, vowing to find SOMETHING to do with it at SOME point. A week had ticked by, and I had done nothing, so it was time to figure it out before the root went bad. I decided to take the path of least resistance and make the recipe for soup included in my CSA newsletter.

The name sounded exotic (“Smoked Paprika and Rutabaga Soup”), and I was not feeling adventurous. I took a rutabaga out of the bag and inspected it. It looked sort of like a turnip (which I do not care for), but bigger and with reddish coloring. I held it to my nose carefully, ready to pull it back at the slightest hint of revulsion.

I sniffed hesitantly. It smelled like earth. Finding the smell not at all unpleasant, I inhaled deeply. To my surprise, being in my delicate state of digestive and olefactory affairs, the scent was not only non-repugnant but also strangely grounding and, dare-I-say, delicious … ?

A friend of mine who had lived on many farms in her youth told me once about how good soil is the holy grail of farming. I remembered her words as I slumped into a chair and continued to breathe in the scent of this vegetable, consciously experiencing and exploring the soil that had made its existence possible—and, indeed, had nourished most of the organic produce I had consumed during the last several months. It made me feel connected to my sweet CSA farm and its wonderful life-giving dirt. And so, so grateful.

I peeled the rutabaga and then cut off a slice. I put it to my mouth and, not finding the initial taste unsavory, continued to chew. Again, I was surprised: It was scrumptious, tasting rooty and sweet and just the perfect amount of starchy. It was the first thing I had been able to eat all day. I cut a few more pieces and actually started feeling ever so slightly better.

My husband came back with my son from a grocery store trip and found me in the midst of making the soup.

“Honey!” I exclaimed. “God gave me rutabaga!”

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