Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blooming in September

We woke up to a delightful, totally unexpected surprise yesterday morning...the wisteria in our backyard was in bloom for the second time this year...on the first day of autumn!  It blossomed at the usual time this spring, gracing us with its fragrant purple promise, but I've never known it to bloom in September. We had a long drought this summer.  Perhaps the stress of the season of dryness caused it to go dormant and the rains of the past few weeks awakened it.  I don't know.  But the perfume of fresh cut wisteria in September is very special.

I wonder if there's a message in this...I'm thinking maybe there is.  At least for me.  Am I in my own autumn?  I don't know.  If God gives me a normal life span, I probably am.  I had a wonderful spring and summer.  All the predictable things happened and a few that nobody could have foreseen.  But the signs of autumn have begun.  As the leaves change, so do I.  My hair isn't blond anymore.  My skin isn't smooth and unlined.  I'm at the end of a career I never expected to have - I'll retire before the snow flies this year. 

Will I bloom in this season of autumn?  I hope so.  Will I be a sweet perfume to those around me?  I'll try.  May I take as my purpose what it says in the Bible...

The older women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things.  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.  To  be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  Titus 2:3-5

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Observations on Buffet Restaurants

My husband Bob was a good sport today and took me to my favorite buffet-style restaurant for lunch.  I say he is a good sport because he really doesn't care for the place, but I love their old fashioned pot roast and vast array of overcooked vegetables...just the way I like them.  Oh, and their macaroni and die for.  He carefully divided his plate into fourths with the only foods he considers 'safe' at a buffet...a baked potato, cole slaw, raw pineapple  and, for some unknown reason, tuna salad.  I, on the other hand, ran from station to station with no thought of food borne illness, piling  my plate dangerously high with everything that looked good or reminded me of Mama's cooking.

Once we settled in, we ate and watched people.  Such an interesting Saturday crowd.  A woman at the table behind us had bright pink hair.  I wonder how she got it that color.  The man at the table next to us kept urging his family to go back for more...he'd 'paid $51 for this meal' and, by golly, they were going to get their money's worth.  I believe, from casual observation, that they did.  One woman, about my age, came back to her table with chocolate dipped strawberries on sticks...she gave one to her husband and this struck me as very romantic, in spite of the fact that Bob feels the communal chocolate fountain is probably a veritable hotbed of ptomaine.    

A couple of older gentlemen sat at different tables, heads bowed in determined solitude as they ate their meals.  In a smaller community, they would have probably sat together, perhaps at one long table, sharing news and gossip, flirting harmlessly with their waitress.  They always make me sad, these old men of the small city.  They seldom smile, avoid eye contact and leave quietly when they are finished.  Women alone often bring a book to read if they are solitary types, or make casual comments to other diners, starting mini-conversations, if they are more outgoing.  But the old men just eat.

Then, just when I thought we were finished, my knight in shining armour excused himself, reappearing a couple of minutes later with a plate of brownies and lemon tarts, smiling hugely, his eyes on me alone.  There are a few moments in life that make us feel truly special...this was one of them for me.  The next time he tracks mud across my clean floor or annoys me by channel surfing during the commercials, may I remember with gratitude and love the sparkle in his eye as we shared that plate of sweets.  And may it be many years before either of us must go to the buffet alone.     


Friday, August 17, 2012

My Cast Iron Skillet

I read somewhere that an antique is anything that is over fifty years old.  What a shock to realize that my cast iron skillet qualifies...and that I bought it new.  It was the very first thing I put into the hope chest Mom and Dad gave me for my sixteenth birthday and one of the few things that still survives today.

It is a '10 1/2 inch chicken fryer' with no brand name on it that I can find.  It must not have cost much, because I bought it with my babysitting money...fifty cents an hour back then.  I don't even know where I got it.  Probably the dime store on San Mateo in Albuquerque...that's where most of my treasures came from in those days.  If I'd known then that I'd still be using it fifty years later, I'd have paid more attention.  It had a glass lid at one time - long since broken.  I do remember what prompted the purchase though.  I saw a picture in an Ideals magazine of a red and white checked tablecloth set with Blue Willow dishes, a cast iron skillet full of stew sitting in the middle.  It seemed so absolutely perfect that it became my vision for the future.  I imagined a hungry husband sniffing appreciatively as he came through the door at night.  I saw several children gathered around the table, waiting for their plates to be filled.  And I, of course, was the smiling star of the whole thing in my shirtwaist dress and ruffled apron, carrying that skillet filled with savory stew to the table.

On the whole, it happened just about that way.  Over the years my skillet has cooked everything from French toast to Christmas dinner, survived over twenty moves and fed more company than I can even remember now.  We carried it to family gatherings and church dinners...covered with aluminum foil and wrapped in towels, it kept things perfectly hot in transit. 

Today it cooked a beef roast for me.  The roast, nestled in a bed of carrots and potatoes, looked as lovely as my dream fifty years ago, and tasted just as good.  The scene has changed though.  My husband doesn't come sniffing through the door at night - he's semi-retired and works from home.  The children are grown and scattered across the country.  I haven't worn a shirtwaist in years.  There's only one Blue Willow plate left - it sits atop the kitchen cabinet as a memento, no longer in service.  But that skillet and I...we've gone the distance.  We've partnered in domesticity for half-a-century, and that's saying something!  I had my dreams and my vision - it helped them become a reality. Who could ask for more from a simple cast iron skillet?