“Awake ye and come to our house
Come running – fly if you can
The doors throw themselves open
The name for this part is hearth
Today is the best day since yesterday
We share – a sense of rivers
Amazed at what we saw
We thought we were dreaming…”
C.D. Wright, “Girl Friend Poem #2”
Recently, I had some discussion with the handful of women I grew up with. We were six sisters against three brothers, unenlightened nuns in medieval religious schools, and the entire history of Western Civilization. We survived more or less sane well into our various and sundry dotages, and mostly without either heroism or martyrdom.
Now that the season precludes all but emergency gardening (hand watering as necessary to make up for Mother Nature’s lapses, replacing fences knocked over by rabbits who were hungrier than I thought etc) I rely more than ever on contact with my sisters to keep myself balanced. Conversation with geographically dispersed sisters in, chronologically, California, Michigan, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Arizona helps us to beat the Seasonal Affective Disorder that afflicts some of us more than others.
I have come to believe that the subject our e-mail conversations matters less than the fact that we can do this. We talked about how it might be time to schedule our traditional biennial group therapy sessions/day spa and shopping excursions, aka, Sistertrips, more frequently. Planning these trips brings its own joy because – like our Daddy taught us all – anticipation of happiness is such a big part of happiness realized. We talk about which of us Mom loved the most; about who got special privileges like preferential use of the family car; about what makes each of us like our parents, for better or worse. About how we miss our folks.
We also talk about the varying degrees to which our families are making us crazy. About the stresses of having kids still in school, about having them on their own and far away, about how they are making the same dumb mistakes we made at their age.
Recently, I tried as best I could to duplicate Dad’s eggnog recipe (the best nog you can afford, and a lot of Southern Comfort in lieu of a little rum.) I had to recreate it because, though promised by one of my loyal siblings, they have yet to provide the recipe. While it doesn’t exactly suck to be me, I miss Dad’s eggnog – my drink of choice while sitting on the floor next to the Xmas tree, wrapping presents and listening to the Messiah. By the time I was singing along with the Amen – my favorite, even better than the Halleluiah chorus – I wasn’t missing the recipe as much, and most of the gifts were wrapped.
Whether we commiserate about our spouses, a rant about vulgar in-laws descending for the holidays, brag about accomplishments of our respective progeny, it helps to share. Inevitably, we conclude that our children are as likely to survive as we did, and to grow into interesting adults with their own traditions, and ways of staying sane. And we generally conclude with wishful dreaming – inspired by the above poem – of our next reunion.
One of the sensory pleasures of gardening I often forget is touch. I love the smells, and the light and shadow. I love to chew a tiny mint leaf or rub some sage on my hands and inhale it. But, this time of year, I find that I also miss the lovely texture of the potting soil I mix, adding some homemade compost with worms, some bone meal and blood meal. When I’m potting plants that won’t have a dedicated drip emitter, I love the way the tiny white crystals bloat up in water and become like tapioca, only clear. So, when deprived of these things by the season, I commiserate with my sisters and that is better, almost, than gardening, and than my nostalgically enhanced memory of Dad’s legendary eggnog.