Archive for December 2nd, 2007

What’s in front of me is a list of the four ingredients for roasted broccoli:

garlic powder
olive oil

I wonder why I left off the main ingredient.

I wrote the items down in my notebook on Friday night, and on Saturday late in the day I cut the broccoli into florets and used my hand to coat each little tree with the oil mixture.

Little trees, that’s what we call broccoli, Jim and I, as a way to entice the girls to savor it as much as we do. “Eat your little trees,” we might say. On Saturday evening Em asked, “Do you like the top of the tree or the trunk better?” Jim said “the top,” I said “the trunk,” and I thought of the bartender in an Italian restaurant where I worked in college who taught me to peel the thick skin and eat the stalk, it’s the sweetest part. At the close of each night I handed him a bag with all the stalks we would have tossed, and every time I make broccoli I think of him.

What’s in front of me is tap water in a cobalt blue glass on my nightstand, a necklace made of Catholic medallions, the kind you get for Confirmation or First Holy Communion, and lip gloss that belongs to Dee. I used the lip gloss last night, my lips were dry and it was there, bubble gum flavor. It reminded me of Taft Junior High and shiny tacky lips and a big white sweater I wore every day to school in 7th grade.

What’s in front of me are my knees propping up my notebook. I’m tired, too tired to sit up and write. I took Dee and Em on a long walk in the bosque, we left a little after three and we kept going as if we were compelled to find something further on the trail and further yet, we walked and ran, and I had the sense that the woods were alive with pulsating pinks and oranges and browns.

What’s in front of me is the prospect of having to go out in the cold night to pick up a prescription at Walgreens that I meant to call in all weekend. In front of me the strong possibility that I’ll blow it off until tomorrow morning. In front of me Jim saying “you’re not going to make it to the store if you lie down like that.” I smile but don’t stop writing, years of saying “you see me writing in my notebook? — don’t talk to me” have fallen on deaf ears.


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A woman in navy gators, old-style webbed snowshoes, laced with sinew, bulky and awkward, tucked up under her armpit, slinging waggling ski poles, wrapped in a red knit ski cap with earflaps. I’m reminded that Natalie has a wool cap like that, a Sherpa cap that looks like someone knitted (no, crocheted?) it for her, especially for her. And now I’m remembering a photograph I took of her with dark shades and that Sherpa cap, gloves, or tan mittens. She’s staring right at me, right into the camera. We are walking the dirt road to the white cross behind Mabel Dodge, the one painted by O’Keeffe.

The sun is pale orange, sinking in a crisp winter sky. Wind whistles, clouds surf along a plume of chimney smoke, sky purples, alternating stripes of gray and red, tapered yellowish tails that blind me when I look into the sun to remember how to describe the light. Light is one of the hardest things to write about. Hard to detail. Like trying to capture the feeling of sucking air through a candy-cane striped straw. The kind in the Wendy’s Frosty I had Friday night. It was late, the storm was coming, Liz stayed two hours later at work. Overtime and a feeling of job well done.

Clingy, tawny oak leaves, sucked into winter’s vortex, hanging on by a single, dead stem. Bobbing ash branches over the Mystic River deck. That’s the name of the color of our deck: Behr Mystic River. And the house will be Pot of Cream next year and the trim will be Cloudberry. The color scheme, does it tell you anything about us? Or describe true color?

What’s in front of me, a long, lonely winter. Not the kind of lonely I am used to. Not the long-suffering alone kind of lonely. But the kind of lonely where I have to make decisions that impact me for a long time to come. There are decisions. And then there are consequences of decisions. Will ever the twain meet? I want to know.

Aluminum blue streaks, striated against brown banana orange. Night falls from the West. There is dusting of powder on the north side of the ash. The tree is 3 pronged and I see the sun through the slingshot V of branch 1 and branch 2. Thing 1 and Thing 2 with their shiny red and white hats. The snowshoe woman looked like Thing 3, though I couldn’t see her face. She walked briskly, head down against the wind. It picks up as the clouds disperse, making way for the frigid air of a clear night.

A midsummer night’s dream is only a distant memory. Orange day lilies and sweet bush clover and pansies and black-eyed susans. I took a lemon bristled broom and a fire handled, snow shovel and took care of the deep, mottled driveway, the newly painted deck, the lean and trim gutters that Gene completed on the eve of Saturday’s storm. He was dressed in Carhart brown and sucked on a Marlboro while he deftly tacked the gutter pipe to the old 50’s Masonite siding. “It’s in good shape,” he said. “Usually, this stuff cracks.”

He looked kind of James Deanish (there I go again) with that cigarette dangling from his winter lips, sideburn edges peeking under a red skull cap, body wrapped in the bulk of winter construction in Minnesota. He was the nicest man and I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated contracting with professionals who do what they say they will do and don’t quit until the job is done.

An elongated scar on the south branch of the closest naked oak. It’s about 50 feet from the window I’m staring out as I write. There were two cardinals (aren’t they bulked up finches?) on the three feeders on Friday, one male, one female. The female was an understated caramel, with her tiniest breast feathers ruffling in juts of wind. I wondered if she was cold.

Then the male flitted by in papal crimson and true black. The female had a little blip of red on her crest. I watched them dance back and forth on the oily, black-seeded feeder. The neighbor plugged in his outdoor Christmas tree, twinkling white, while his kids pulled out over thin air, dangling from a wooden seated rope swing hanging from the same scarred oak.

Plus 6 with the windchill. The night’s sunset is reflected in the shiny screen of Liz’s laptop. She oils her hands with a lavender salve I bought at the Albuquerque Growers Market last summer. I feel glad to be alive.

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 2nd, 2007


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