It was just one of those days just about perfect in my mind. You know, like Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Our House:” two cats in the yard (except ours are in the house; predators, you see). And it was even better as we returned to a long ago (well, by my standards; by my daughters, it is more like ancient) ways we worked in the evenings…and yes, i lit the fire while she put the flowers in the vase.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
It was cool and rainy, like the Southwest corner used to be in February. Not Tennessee rain, mind you, not at all. In fact, it really didn’t rain. It was more like heavy mist (but that is another story, a golfing story). Last night, we had about a quarter of an inch, more than we’ve had in about two months. More is predicted today. Our highs for this week proper are only touching 60, a veritable blizzard. But again, that is another story.
Yesterday for some reason, i was more productive than usual, on a bunch of fronts. i was proud of myself, and then came dinner. Maureen was at a meditating class. She says they are teaching her about history and the different kinds of meditateion. i declined to join her. Six Mondays of studying meditation just doesn’t quite strike me as fun. So going back to those old days, i once again cooked supper.
Once upon a time in the old west…well, at least in the old Southwest corner, i had some sort of control of the kitchen. Or at least, i thought i did.
It was when Maureen’s and my marriage really began. My time on the Yosemite and our year in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach really, had been beyond magical. We were married July 30, 1983 and then i was gone for nine months. You know, those deployments Navy folks just seem to get caught up in. So the really married stuff began in 1985.
We came back in late April. That’s when the real married stuff began and lasted for …well, i was going to say “a year,” but it really was for the rest of my life.
When we returned to the Southwest corner in 1985, i cooked supper quite a bit when Maureen worked, but i then realized cooking was an escape for her, something she loved to do. She’s damn near a gourmet chef. When she cooks, which is nearly all the time now except for grilling, we have dinner. When i cook, we have supper.
Boy, did we have supper last night.
Here’s what we had:
Jim’s Stuff he makes with okra but zucchini substitutes for okra…or what is better known as “What the hell was that?”…and there is a story about that as well, but not for polite folks.
Seasoning (critical but what strikes me at the moment)
Mustard (doesn’t have to be the fancy kind, but it helps)
Molasses (sorghum, of course)
Cut it up,
Cook it slow in a cast-iron skillet
Serve with cornbread and rice or potatoes and red wine
It helps to have a martini while you are doing it, makes you more creative. Bombay Sapphire up with olives in a chilled glass. But i gave that up a while ago. So i had a beer.
Maureen and Sarah loved it. Me too. i may get called on to cook supper more frequently, but not dinner.
Sarah retreated to her room. i lit the fire. Remember “Déjà Vu”? We never turned on the television. i did not write, i did not read. i sat in my chair next to the fire, propped my feet on the camel saddle Maureen had made into an ottoman, closed my eyes, and listened.
A rare moment.
i have a lot of music in my history. It’s sort of like my life. i like them all but i’m not an aficionado in any of the genres. But i do have my favorites. And last night it was my classical favorites: Handel’s “Water Music” — to this day, i remain thrilled my daughter Blythe chose that for her wedding music — and Dvořák’s “New World Symphony.” Cy Fraser introduced me to both back in 1963.
i listened quietly and thought:
The world ain’t all bad, and i am one very, very lucky man.