All week long I’ve been thinking about what to write for this week’s blog post. I’d assumed it would have something to do with winter solstice since that’s the predominant natural force in the northern hemisphere right now. As is normal though, I wasn’t sure how I was going to write about it. After all, what more is there to be said about the winter solstice? It’s the darkest time of year. It’s been observed and celebrated for thousands of years in one way or another. It’s a time to slow down, go inward, and embrace the absence of light.
I was thinking about all of this as I was sitting at the kitchen table last night labeling packages of a tea blend that we’d put together earlier in the day. We named this particular blend Dandecalm because it is a blend of wild chamomile and dandelion roots and it’s got a calming effect on both the gut and the emotions. And at the time, all was calm.
Dean was relaxing on the couch after a week of fighting a cold and we were listening to our go-to, deep-chill record Where the Spirit Meets the Bone by Lucinda Williams. The house was tidy and comfortable. The Christmas lights added to the coziness. Things were winding down after a full day and we were sipping herb tea and starting to think about turning in for the night and then it happened.
An explosion. Flying glass.
I hit the floor and in a flash my mind covered all the worst case scenario possibilities. Natural gas explosion (we don’t have natural gas here). Random shooter taking aim at us through our back window. Propane tank explosion. Avalanche of snow falling off the roof and breaking through the back window.
Dean jumped up from the couch and saw me on the floor and also imagined all kinds of terrible things. Once he established that I was okay he grabbed a flashlight and headed toward the back door to investigate. Once I felt reasonably sure that we weren’t under attack I picked myself up and started looking around too. Glass shards littered the floor but all of our windows were still intact. Then I noticed liquid dripping from the kitchen counter and the smell of something fruity and sour.
Fermentation, it turns out, is capable of incredible destruction.
Over the summer we were too busy to keep up with our kombucha, but a couple months back Dean started it up again and made a red currant/ginger blend. The SCOBY seemed weak after months of neglect and we had our doubts that it would work. Still though, he bottled it up and gave it a chance to do its thing. We checked one of the bottles a few weeks ago and it was flavorful but flat, no carbonation at all. We figured we’d have to throw it out but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
Our house typically runs cool, hardly ever getting above the low 60s and dipping down into the mid 50s at night, but with all the snow we’ve had recently we’re experiencing a rare phase in which our house is insulated and warm. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been staying steady in the 60s at night and going as high as the low 70s during the day. These balmy temperatures may be what launched the kombucha into action. It’s hard to say for sure. But whatever the cause, we are lucky it didn’t cause us bodily harm. Had one of us been in the kitchen when its pressure could no longer be contained within the confines of its pop-top bottle, it could have been bad.
With our adrenaline fully kicked in, we spent the next hour and a half trying to clean up all the glass. We found it everywhere, in everything, and will probably continue to find small shards of it into the foreseeable future.
We laughed a lot, out of relief that it was just kombucha and not something terrible or sinister. We laughed over imagining having to explain each other’s untimely death to our friends and family under such ridiculous circumstances. We laughed over the imagined conversations with EMS had one of us needed medical attention. We laughed because out of all the dangers in this world, our close call was from a healthy fermented drink.
Maybe there’s a way I could tie winter solstice and exploding kombucha together for the purposes of this blog, but my nerves are still on edge and I’m still a little too shaken up to stretch that far. For now I’m just thankful that all the flying glass missed me. Thankful that it missed Dean and the dogs too. I’m thankful that in this world where weird random accidents happen all the time, this one turned out to be nothing more than a big mess.