"The next night, after we had moved and arranged about having Al's trunks of books sent from the station, I looked up the word anniversary in my dictionary and told Madame that it was our first one. 'Impossible,' she shouted, glaring at me and then roaring with laughter when I said 'Month, not year.'"
-- M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me
A Finger in Every Pie is one month old today. New arrivals in one's life are generally difficult to care for, because you have to learn so much about them. They require a great deal of love and attention -- but I must say, this baby is already quite rewarding. Many, many thanks to all who are reading and commenting -- it does make it seem worthwhile. My month-long free trial period with Typepad is now officially over, and I'm going to start paying for the privilege of doing this -- and I don't say that with irony, truly. It does feel like a privilege, and the quite nominal fee I'll cough up for the blog is worth every cent.
What I've discovered is that blogging is a marvelous thing. It gives me the opportunity to work out a little, stretch my limbs as a nascent writer -- even when so much else is happening all around, to me and because of me. Our lives constantly clamor for our attention -- loved ones, work, obligations of all kinds -- and many of us find that we need oases. But there are times when the usual ones -- the "something that's just for me" is lacking in the right spirit. I go to the gym or even to dance class, which I love, because it's good for me. It's a release, surely, but it doesn't always give me all the sustenance I need. In shopping some find their sanctuary, especially in large cities. For others of us, though, it's fraught with economic ambivalence and the perils of decision-making -- something we do for necessity, not for recreation. Occasionally, in the right company, I can be persuaded to indulge in a brief bout of retail therapy; for the most part, however, shopping does not provide the hyacinths that feed my soul. Making art and/or music are worthy passions, and ones I'd like to be able to pursue more, but don't really have the venues right now -- a class, a choral group, others to create with. Cooking is wonderful -- it does feel both creative and nourishing on multiple levels. But this is something else.
I had thought at one point, more than a year ago, to try to collect a writers' group around me. I joined a group formed by someone else, but it fell apart with amazing speed. Something always came up for someone -- or for several someones -- and the whole project just quietly faded away. I hope someday to have a writers' group, and to have time and space to write about many things: food, education and its politics, literature for young people, adult fiction perhaps. For now, however, this works well. I love writing here, and I love reading comments and responding. I like the fact that I feel some obligation to post regularly, but that I don't have to meet a deadline or be pressured in any way. This is a good way to begin.
As for celebrations -- I've been doing quite a lot of that lately. And the fact that public schools are closed this week means that my days are free, although I'll have to attend a meeting and teach a grad class tomorrow. And that, my friends, means Time, blessed time for whatever I want -- which is celebration enough. It's so breathtakingly precious to have some days to myself. Today I cleaned out a few kitchen cabinets, straightened up some areas of ongoing cumulative mess and took a damp cloth to bits of grime on walls and fixtures. I was rewarded with the smug virtuous feeling that comes to those of us who are not cleaners by nature when we actually get off our nether regions and do something. God knows I'd rather be cooking. And doing other things. Later in the week we might actually go see a movie, hallelujah.
Yesterday was certainly a celebration of time to do what we will. G and I went for a long, beautiful snow walk in Central Park. I wanted to experience The Gates first hand, rather than just in passing. G can't stand them -- not his kind of art. To him they feel like an obstruction, an intrusion. And although I think the scope of the project is heraldic and rather glorious, I could see his point. At one point we wandered into a ravine where there were no bright safety-orange Gates. We followed the little stream that flows through the park, trickling over rocks and through old natural stone bridge tunnels designed by Vaux and Olmsted. We saw one cardinal, then several. I pointed out the differences between the male and the female. We realized that we were actually surrounded by cardinals -- and then we saw a downy woodpecker, right there in the middle of our city of eight million people. Perhaps one of the lessons of the Gates is that we'll appreciate the spine-melting beauty of our park even more once they're gone.
Earlier in the day I had made the delightful Cardamom-Cinnamon Buns posted by the extraordinary Moira over at Who Wants Seconds? (Her photo of these buns, by the way, is up for Does My Blog Look Good In This? Check it out.) I won't post my own photo of them, since both the actual buns and my picture of them are to Moira's what The Crackers are to The Gates.
In any case, the buns are quite, quite delicious, especially after a cold snow walk, especially with a cup or so of rich hot chocolate made with whole milk, a soupçon of cream, bittersweet chocolate and good cocoa...and topped with no less than 3 marshmallows per cup. We knew we could have that many, because we deserved them. The woodpecker and the cardinals told us so.