Monthly Archives: June 2015

A break from science



Every few weeks I get the chance to make a new batch of granola. For a few hours in the evening the smell of Thanksgiving spices and a bright note of orange fill the air. I take a lot of comfort in preparing it (even though I sometimes wonder if this is the alarming start to a new trend of mine: making things at home that you can easily buy at the store). There isn’t a lot of science to my granola. None of it is measured. I can never remember the right oven temperature, so I guess. Although I may have been on my feet all day in the lab preparing things for experiments, I take the granola preparation as a welcome break from my norm.  Because it’s not an experiment. It’s not science. It’s a relaxed ritual that is never carried just the same way twice. Like voodoo divination, it will turn out however the coconut shells land on the ground. I welcome this act of doing without thinking because some days science is draining.  Some days I get lost running over the many details of the protocols. Some days scientists are not nice, not in it for the love of subject. And I absorb people’s bad attitudes and leave the lab with barely enough energy to walk home. With my optimism scorched and my feelings numb. But then there’s the granola, and we’re out of parchment paper and it doesn’t even matter. There’s such a thing as taking joy in the process of doing something just because you might as well. As the aromas rise from the oven, the day-to-day annoyances and panics of science disappear. The card-access doors beeping, the CO2 valve hissing, the centrifuge launching all fall silent. Gradually I become just a normal person at home making granola.