As the summer has been winding into fall, these past few weeks have been filled with many moments of the exceptional-yet-ordinary variety. These were moments of crystalline clarity, when nothing existed except for what was right there on the table: the food, people talking and listening, glass, cloth, pottery, and metal. The air sparkled faintly with a transcendent sense of space that was minute and endless at the same time, inconsequential and all-encompassing at once. And I loved it. Consumed in and by it, I loved it.
Meals at home for friends old and new, special restaurant meals for two and four, a small and elegant dinner party made memorable with an elder father’s gift of trout (caught and then smoked), recited poetry, champagne from music-making crystal flutes, confessions of childhood fears, grateful recovery from life-threatening illness.
A beloved friend flew in from far away, and we filled an entire weekend with moments that seemed to go on forever. Most of an afternoon we lingered in the kitchen, baking an exotic cake with whole oranges and almond flour, drizzled with saffron-honey syrup. We waited patiently for it to bake and then cool, sliding it onto a magnificent pedestal cake plate that my mother-in-law had once received as a wedding gift, and then bringing it, as our offering, to that elegant dinner party.
One privilege after another. I joined a remarkable group of women to celebrate the auspicious birthday — a mark of breadth, depth, maturity — of the single woman at the table whose friendship with us all was the one thing we had in common. And what a night that was. “Going forward, it’s chaos; looking backward it’s a narrative.” A timeline of years collapsed into one, single sentence. A stormy decade of tremendous uncertainty and unpredictability yields finally to moments of celebration, understanding, and triumph with one’s most beloved friends.
Simple, revolving evenings with a table filled with adult children, full of gratitude, and flowing with food, friends and their own friends, whom they bring to share in the bounty.
Time spent alone in the garden for long hours over Labor Day weekend, picking tomatoes and cucumbers, burying potatoes for next spring, weeding around lavender, thyme, oregano, chives, basil. A magnificent herb garden that thrives, finally, as I had always imagined it might someday.
I will also remember forever the long moments I sat quietly on the screened-in porch with my friend, marveling together at the thunder and lightning storm that roared through the Ohio Valley last weekend. Netflix has nothing on Mother Nature.