From November 27th, 2010:
I rarely cook—I live on frozen meatloaf and take-out barbecue. But for Thanksgiving, I was in the kitchen.
For once during the year, my full attention and effort wasn’t directed to preparing classes, writing, or grading, but rather to basting, stirring, and chopping.
Before you read further, I suggest you take a look at this deceptively simple scene and try to figure out what’s going on.
A blue-collar working man is on his lunch break. Pretty straightforward, right? But take a look at the length of the unbroken apple rind curling downward. I’ve tried cutting a rind like that, and that takes concentration and skill. Look at how carefully he’s paying attention to his task. (And in the original I could more clearly see a slight smile of satisfaction.) Furthermore, he isn’t sitting down. (Isn’t this supposed to be his break?) The apple is lifted for close examination as he stands with his legs spread and his posture erect. His creased pants and attentiveness suggest professionalism in his work. But right now, rather than his work (or his break!), his whole attention is directed to the task of pealing this apple. He’s not lounging back chomping into it. He’s relishing the process of skillfully completing what seems a simple, basic task.
He peals his apple, and I turned my attention to actually cooking a meal.
(The name of this Norman Rockwell Painting is The Apple Peeler. It's currently on display in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian Institute for American Art.