I love this month; I think it’s the prettiest of the year. There is so much hope and excitement blooming everywhere one can’t help but feel optimistic and cheerful, even in the face of uncertainty.
On my table and everywhere in my kitchen:
Wonderful, magical, sweet scents of English roses and ripening fruit. The roses smell like a mix of luscious berries to start with, then add multiple flats of strawberries, trays of apricots, pineapples, and melons mellowing and sweetening before the wedding on Saturday. The rest of the array, bright red cherries and various colors of grapes are chilling in the extra refrigerator. This glorious fruit is still a precious commodity this time of year, but at least we’re far enough along in the season for all of it have been harvested in California and Arizona—not as bad as shipping it from South America.
Beginnings: This weekend, a wedding! The bride, a young woman in our Family of Friends, raised alongside my own children and loved as much. I’m not catering the whole reception but I am gifting them with beautiful fruit trays designed to round out their afternoon dessert buffet reception. Happiness abounds.
Next up to read: Plainsong, by Kent Haruf. It is a book that was highly recommended to me last year. I had it on my wish list but had not made plans to buy it until summer. Then I went to Minnesota….
On a very cold clear day in January I was on a walking tour of downtown Redwing with a longtime friend. She steered us into her favorite bookstore, Fair Trade Books on Bush Street. It was such a relief to get out of the cold wind, but then it’s always a relief to go into a bookstore, especially one with old wooden floors, big windows, interesting displays and that paper-and-ink smell. My friend introduced me to the owner and I looked around while they visited. I wandered back at the end of the conversation and the bookseller said, “I almost forgot your book—I always give a book to first time visitors. What do you like?” I looked at my friend and then back to the man and said, “I like what she likes and I’m a poet. I like thoughtful literature.” The only catch was that the owner would choose the book, and that I would recommend the store to someone else. That sounded like a win on multiple levels so I continued my wandering while he perused the shelves deeper into the store. It wasn’t too long before I heard him coming back and he had Plainsong in his hand. It was a heartwarming surprise which left me wondering, how did he do that? (And no, my friend had never read it either.) If you go to Redwing, Minnesota drop by Fair Trade Books (www.fairtradebooksredwing.com). Maybe he’ll find something great for you, too.
Writing: I am working to stay faithful to my journal which is a challenge during my own very uncertain times. I feel like I put so much careful work into doing the things I have to do that I forget to write about it, too. I’m finding that bulleted lists of short paragraphs are working well. I also wrote a deeply considered letter to the author of a new book, his first. I loved his book and felt like he’d written with me in mind—he seems to be my kind in thought, experience, and use of language. I told him so and thanked him for writing it. Extra points for mailing the letter.
Endings: First names and lines from three recent obituaries. The lines made me smile and I thought about these people for days.
Larry, who was a proud grandfather and random conversation artist… an honored husband, father, grandfather, brother and son.
Sybil, who took her coffee pure and undefiled, spoke Cat fluently and knew German, French and some Russian.
Shirley, who in lieu of flowers would like everyone to have a slice of pie and a cup of good coffee with friends and family.
Thanks to these three for their thoughtful lives and to those who wrote so carefully about them.