Time For Butter

My great-uncle John never buttered his bread.

“I don’t have time for butter!” he insisted. I never knew how much time butter took, but apparently it was more than Uncle John could spare.

Time passes so often without notice. A day seems to pass in the time it takes to butter a piece of bread. Last night, my husband, Peter, said that we met seven years ago.

“Eight years,” I corrected him.

We will celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary next month and, while the romance was quick, we had known one another for a year. We married on the one-year anniversary of the day we met.

“That’s right,” Peter said. “Time passes too quickly!”

He is always saying that. He also says that, while he doesn’t know how much time we’ll have together, he knows it will not be enough. (Peter is a romantic. There’s no denying it.)

We are traveling in Mexico now. My temporary desk is set up against a window. I can see the progress being made on the house next door, which is acquiring a new story. I can see the spires of the churches in the distance. I can hear the traffic of cars going by, which seems unnaturally loud as they travel over cobblestones, and the sounds of the roosters and the dogs who always seem to have something urgent to report.

We are traveling again and making plans. I have actual activities written in an actual calendar. Things are slowly returning to normal and, of course, that’s a good thing. But it feels as if time is speeding up.

My days blend into one another and, before I know it, it is afternoon and I am taking my daily walk through the streets of this Mexican city, seeing something that surprises me—every single afternoon—saying hello to several dozen friendly strangers and greeting their dogs. The weather has been cool. I note the butcher’s very fat pug is wearing a jacket. The jacket is a little tight, and the pug looks embarrassed.

“What a nice jacket!” I say to the butcher in Spanish, and the butcher laughs. The pug wags its tiny tail but doesn’t look too sure. And another day passes.

It is a cliché, but it is still true that time is the only thing we cannot buy. It is our most limited commodity and our most precious resource. I guess that’s why it shocks me how much of it I allow to slip away without notice.

But when I think back on a year ago today, time did slow down for a while. Peter and I stayed at home and the only people we saw were Peter’s sister, Lori, and her husband. Every week, Peter cooked and I read and time seemed to slow to a stop. There was no pressure to do more—there was nothing more we could do. And so, we talked until Lori was tired and, a few days later, we did it again. Lori died later in the year.

Now time has resumed its normal pace, and it’s good to be traveling and seeing friends and family again. But sometimes it feels as if I’ve forgotten something important about the time that just passed. Sometimes it seems to me that there was a lesson in that time that I could use now, as my calendar fills.

Because the time that just passed was not like the time that came before or the time after. For a while, time took time off. For a while, I had time for butter.

Till next time,


– Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.