Gary sidled the car up to the curb and I hopped out with an armful of books to return to the library. Sadly I saw the “closed” sign on the door – signs of the times in a budget crisis. No browsing today, I sighed.
As I began to take the steps I noticed a woman seated on a lower step, puffing her last few puffs of a cigarette, a bulging bag of books at her side. Her red wool coat and knitted cap commented loudly on the brisk day forecasting snow in some parts – strange times; strange seasons.
As I journeyed up to the library door the red-coated woman called out to me, “Do you work here?”
“No,” I replied cheerfully, “Just returning some books.”
She turned back to take another puff, ending our discourse abruptly.
I skipped up the stairs, opened the low-tech flap in the door and added my books to the burgeoning pile, taking great care to toss the dvd safely to the side despite the sign asking that I refrain from putting dvds through the slot. My conscience pricked me a bit, but the poor hours offered these days make dvd returns a hit-and-miss thing – so I risked it. I let the flap fall and turned to hop down the steep “historical” steps back to the comfort of my vehicle and on to my program of daily doings.
“Hey,” the stoop-sitting woman called out.
She stood up.
She reached out, laying her hand gently on my shoulder. She looked full in my eyes.
“You look pretty today,” she said softly.
I looked back into her deep dark eyes. I can’t even recall the color but I do recall the spirit. I saw the need . . . the cry . . . the loneliness of a “special one” needing to connect in a world that confuses them.
“Thank you,” I smiled, “You look lovely today, as well. I just love your red coat . . .” but my words caught in the breeze and flew away as the wall went up in her eyes. She turned and shut me out. She was gone though she stood right before me. I ached to reach out and embrace her but I knew I was not welcome.
Having an autistic son – living and loving and nurturing one so precious, and so different – has taught me much about leaving off judgments and trading “norms” for precious gifts in the moment; about casting off my expectations in favor of unscripted epiphanies of truth and love: The kind of love that Jesus bids us share liberally with our neighbor; the kind of love that special people give so unexpectedly, so freely, so easily . . . though in brief windows. The kind of love our world desperately needs.
I’ve learned the UNexpected gifts catch you by surprise and must be grasped and held dearly in the heart, for they may never ever come your way again. Like Jesus’ mother, Mary, I have become a font of stored up memories to be pondered over and over. Another sweet gift just splashed down in a surprise moment. My heart reached out and clutched it quickly. It shall not escape unnoticed in a busy world. It matters. She matters.
Why this woman broke through her safety zone and touched me, I shall never know; but I do know the value of such a gift! It doesn’t matter that she shut the door as soon as I tried to return the sweet gift. It doesn’t matter that she will have no recall of my face or our little exchange the next time I pass her on the street. It doesn’t matter that I cannot inform her that she awaits an open door at the library that will not come this day. What matters is that we touched and our eyes locked and we shared a moment of life this day.
I shall never forget what she will not remember: We trod the same path for just a brief moment and I glimpsed her heart – the place she REALLY lives. Did she glimpse the REAL me? I hope so . . . the tear on my cheek testified that my heart stored yet another special incident of love to ponder the rest of my days.
“What’s going on?” Gary asked as he shifted and moved away from the curb. “Do you know her?”
Hello sweet friends. I’ve been away . . . well, now isn’t that the dumbest thing I’ve ever written on this blog??? Any regular reader (if you’re still around, that is) knows that! And any new reader who has danced in can see that my last post landed here over three weeks ago. So, can we just dispense with the apologies and get right to the fun? I have a confession to make:
I’ve been having a ball lately. Spring has finally arrived and the garden flushes with roses, peonies, and all manner of fragrant blossoms -- some who remain nameless due to my hasty plucking and discarding of the annoying tag attached to the slender leafless stem . . . aaaah sweet mystery. I love it all!
Along with the garden meandering I have lately welcomed my sister and her husband for NINE WHOLE DAYS of fun, food, games, movies, late-night gab sessions, along with laughter that burned up every calorie we lavished ourselves with, culminating in a downpour of tears shed curbside at the departure terminal.
Life’s bliss rolls over me every time I think back on Ultimate SORRY game matches (our own twist on the Disney version of SORRY – brutally hilarious and frightfully addicting). How can I ever forget homemade ice cream dripping from chins as we laugh in unison at the umpteenth showing of Monsters, Inc? (Can I have a show of hands favoring this Pixar gem?). Did I mention the dining out? The dining in? The dining deckside? The dining . . . oh how I LOVE the dining! Whether ordering off hand-lettered menus or smooshing together into the kitchen to slather pizzas with delectibles like feta cheese, kalmata olives and roasted red peppers, or just good ol’ pepperoni and mozzarella –
I LOVE TO DINE!
I love it almost as much as I love to read.
(And I can’t even begin to describe the ecstasy
of reading about dining – oooooh la la!)
SO now you know . . . the mild-mannered woman who pens this blog with thoughtful posts about culturing her own crème fraiche and grinding her own grains for bread has an underbelly life and it dines sumptuously and richly and slowly and with great pleasure. Are you surprised? I thought not. That dollop of cream I post at the end of every sentence when I write about food gives me away, doesn't it? Looking back over nearly two years of posts betrays that some of my most-commented posts involve FOOD. (Imagine that.) So, it seems you, my dear readers, come quite often for the food – or at least it gives you something to comment about.
With that in mind, I've got a real treat for you! My darling youngest daughter, Rachel (who, at a mere 11 years of age, stands nearly eye-to-eye with me, a 5-foot, six-inch gal), has embarked upon an adventure in cooking that she wants to share with you all. In an effort to avoid battling with me each day when “essay writing” time rolls around (yes, our homeschooling routine involves an essay a day in the formative years), Rachel has decided to write a cookbook wherein she chronicles our family favorites, some borrowed from other sources (with proper notation despite our inevitable “tweaking” to taste) and others completely made up here in the kitchen at Wisteria Cottage. These essays on cooking, food, and family traditions through the eyes of my 11-year-old may not peak the interest of Simon & Schuster, but I can hardly wait to place a bound-copy of this gem on my shelf of beloved food memoirs.
The quixotic tastes and lifestyle of my delightful family will continue to flood the pages of this bloggy place, but Rachel has inspired me to offer take-away ideas and recipes for living the Good Life, or our version of it anyway. For today I will leave you an appetizing photo of last night’s simple fare.
This brisket bathed in a jar of spaghetti sauce (I chose Walnut Acres' Sweet Pepper and Onion) topped by sliced yellow onions and red peppers and about four cloves of garlic (diced) splashed with about a 1/2-cup of red wine and a 1/4-cup of balsamic vinegar cooked together for about 3 hours in my favorite le crueset dutch oven while I was away on a shopping expedition to Costco. The oven dutifully cooked and ceased with my automatic settings (I love that feature on my oven) while the kids studied, planted out the veggie seedlings, and went about their tasks. When I returned home I merely sliced the brisket, reduced the “sauce” a bit and added back the meat.
I then sautéed some fresh asparagus in olive oil and coarse salt,
tore off hunks of baguette
(the sauce is far too good to leave on the plate)
and sat down to dine with pleasure.
When I got to the end I stopped . . .
but my mind floated along on the pleasant memory of such good REAL food. Naturally, I rejoiced in knowing we would have to eat again tomorrow and the day after that and . . . Oh the ideas that my mind whips up! [Lips smack in anticipation . . . ]
I’ve gotta run just now. I bought some fresh cream yesterday that just begs to be made into crème fraiche so that I can try that chocolate cake I’ve been dreaming about. Oh, and maybe I should make some of that soured-cream ice cream I “discovered” when the cream aged a bit longer than I planned . . . Could you hear me mouth F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S as I licked the paddle discreetly? Where’s a pen and paper? Rachel’s gotta add that one to the book, too! ; D