When the doorbell rang, I glanced around the room and counted. I had a clown, belly dancer, hobo, large mouse, a gypsy and Carmen Miranda. All of our invited guests were present. Who could be at the back door? Assigning my twelve-year-old daughter the job of passing glasses of vile-looking green punch to our guests, I went to see.
Standing on the deck at my back door was an old woman dressed in a long, colorful skirt and shawls. She stood so hunched over a black cane, it was hard to see her face. Despite that, I was able to tell that her long nose and wrinkles were soft rubbery plastic. Wisps of gray hair stuck out from under the babushka that she wore on her head. She spoke no words, but motioned to indicate she desired to enter my house.
Mesmerized by this mysterious stranger and sensing only benevolence radiating from her, I stepped aside. The unidentified party guest (UPG) hobbled into the dining room. My two daughters and our guests all fell silent. After greeting each costumed child with a one-armed hug and motions to indicate her approval of them, our UPG finally retired to a chair in the corner of the room. Continue reading
Every time I woke during the night I wondered, “When I get up and look, will there be a long trickle of juice running away from the garbage can in the basement?” Behind my closed eyes I remembered mounds of crisp, white shreds of cabbage. The day before I’d had an intimate encounter with two hundred twenty five pounds of the cruciferous vegetable.
My daughter and I make a large batch of sauerkraut every other year. We slip extremely large, food-grade bags into a large metal garbage can especially purchased for this purpose. The fluid that forms when the cabbage is salted and pressed down allows fermentation to take place. Each year I fret and worry that a plastic bag leak could ruin an entire batch. Continue reading
Bright afternoon sunshine slanted down through colorful fall foliage, blinding me for a moment. I impatiently pulled down the sun visor. Spotting a place to park directly in front of the school door, I swiftly pulled into the space and immediately jumped out of my vehicle. I had a dozen errands to run that afternoon and I intended to get every single one done as quickly as possible.
Next to the school door was a huge planter filled with salvias. The plants were tall and ablaze with vibrant red blossoms. I skidded to a stop. My feeling of being rushed and overburdened fell away, replaced by a sweet childhood memory filled with nostalgia and a sense of timelessness.
Fall was a season of celebration when I was a child. Red, yellow and orange trees were flames of joy, announcing that the bounty of summer was ready to be harvested. Mom and my siblings gathered apples from the orchard and made them into apple sauce and pies. Daddy spent warm days and cool nights in the corn fields making silage so the cows had more than hay to eat during the winter. Continue reading
Even though my baby was in the car with me now after work, I felt frantic with anxiety. Everything felt off kilter. I hadn’t been able to cuddle Niki all day and my body ached with longing. Pulling to a stop in my driveway, I scrambled out from behind the wheel and opened the car’s back door. My six-week-old daughter contentedly gave me a big smile as I unbuckled her from the car seat. I scooped her into my arms and rushed into the house.
In the living room I sank down in my rocking chair and lifted her out of the blankets. Peace and calm settled over me the minute I put her against my left shoulder. She happily nuzzled my neck as our heart beats become one. I sighed with relief. Continue reading