Friday’s child is Loving and Giving
A nurse, a ballerina, a pirate, an Indian princess, one witch and an assortment of fairy princesses and superheroes assembled in a dark walnut paneled, gold and orange hued kitchen accented with avocado appliances. A harvest yellow enameled casserole pot, filled with water and whole apples is set on a Newsday-lined counter top beside a table-top rotary telephone. A dozen boys and girls spent an afternoon in “make-believe”, wearing Woolworth costumes that came in cardboard boxes with clear plastic windows. I am Pocahontas. Dressed in faux deerskin with a rainbow of feathers reaching up from a headband. As my mother gripped my two blonde braids, I aspired to dunk for the McIntosh holding the prize coin (an unsanitary group activity by today’s standards). Seven months pregnant, she threw me a costume party for my eighth birthday and baked a jack-o-lantern decorated orange chiffon cake surrounded by chocolate cupcakes. I still have an appetence for the orange essence of my youth. “…a good time was had by all dunking for apples.” (Long Island Advance, Nov. 4, 1971)
A nurse, a teacher, a computer programmer, one three year old princess and an assortment of retirees, divorcees and college students assembled in a neo-Mediterranean theme restaurant highlighted in swirls of varying shades of golds and dark wood tones. A paper bag filled with apples from my own apple tree is set upon a shiny lacquered table. Beside it sits three neat rows of quart-size Ball jars containing stewed apple slices adorned in pinking sheared squares of fall-inspired fabrics. An assortment of friends and relatives spend an afternoon in “live reality”, wearing Levi, Ralph Lorene Polo and Vera Wang purchased online and from designer factory outlet malls. I am wearing a “Zaras” costume consisting of a mid-thigh, satin fitted dress, splashed in bright tones resembling blurred computer pixels. Blonde highlights fall freely to my shoulders. I am feeling fabulous at fifty as I stand among the real super heroes in my life. Everyone wins the prize, simply by surviving the decades, showing up and taking home the apples….
…Favor tags: “Thank you for Sharing Debbie’s 50th… October 27, 2013”.
Several people have passed since that photo was taken forty-six years ago, including my mother. Others have moved in different directions as we all became consumed building our lives. Despite my home being vacant of children, this year I brought myself to the occasion of my 54 th, returning to New York to visit family, see a show, eat great food and finding new friendship with a recently discovered DNA cousin.
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. With cooling thermals and foliage alighting the landscape with sunset hues, field mice scramble to warm indoor nooks as growing things relinquish their vigor to long dark days. And I am compelled to feel nostalgic. I reminisce of leaping into crisp leaf piles and licking sticky candy apples on popsicle sticks. Smoky scents of maple and oak fill the evening air and aromas of cinnamon and allspice emanating from bubbling apple crisps and pumpkin custard, spice my Vermont home just the same as the kitchens of my childhood. It is as though the memories that invigorate our senses and make us feel nostalgic, are carried along the generations on a single ethereal stream of fondness. As with the passing of recipes, comforting redolence is carried from the kitchens of the ancestors we’ve never met but have always known. The change of seasons reminds us that nothing remains as it is for too long, all things living must rest. Winter will drape a white coat over the fallen, preserving the seeds underneath until the next change inspires new growth. We are akin to these cycles and also need to allow ourselves to rest, breath steady in the dark, and wait it out. Each one of us is significant in infinite ways. Every birthday is your gift.
David had a running annual riddle he wrote in every birthday card he gave me. Being a numbers person, he’d calculate the shrinking distance between our ages in the form of a fraction. Joking that we were getting closer in age as the years progressed, with the distance between us decreasing, bringing us closer. “When I was 4 and you were 2, you were 2/4 (of ½) of my age. Then when I was 8 and you were 6, you were 6/8 (or ¾) of my age. Then I was 16 and you were 14, you were 14/16 (or 7/8) of my age… See, you are catching up! With Love & getting younger, your Dear.” October 25, 2001, I would have been 38/40 (or 19/20 or .95 = 5% difference) of his age. He was right.
“To everything, there is a season, And a time to every purpose, under Heaven”(Byrds, “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, 1965)