|Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.
Happy Almost Birthday, dear heart; may you have a blessed, gentle, lovely day -- and year!
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Sunday, September 04, 2005
It seems I can put together one lengthy post a day and it can be either an e-mail, a KRForum post or a blog post. Then, a combination of time constraints and hand tingling reminds me to Be Good To My [Aging] Body. I hope, given a spate of good behavior, I will soon be free to soar into the heights of rich and fascinating insights displayed in witty prose. (I hear that - let us hope I am able to soar...!)
We’ve rounded the corner of summer here. September came in with a decided drop in humidity and heat and now we have days of splendid air, crisp with the promise of changing seasons and holiday joy. Silly of me, I know, but I always feel that Labor Day is the beginning of the holiday season - in a broad and celebratory sense. Labor Day itself is a holiday, and following every few weeks come all those other autumnal pleasures, like birthdays (mine, GD’s, Dad’s and 2 sisters’) and Monday holidays and fiber festivals and retreats. I always feel like September is the reward for making it through a Tidewater Virginia summer. For those who don’t know what that is, just keep in mind that a diplomatic posting to D.C. from Europe has long been considered a hardship post because of our unbelievably humid, muggy, buggy, swampy weather.
But when Virginia weather decides to be pleasant - ahh then - nowhere else can beat it for energizing crispness, glorious landscapes, gushing and tumbling beauty, night skies with a clarity presenting the smallest of constellations to the late night viewer. Some years summer lingers on, deep into September, with its gasping hot nights blanketing restless sleepers. Some years, like this year, it comes smack on the dot. One of the most vivid of those perfect September autumns in my memory is 1975, the year we moved to the country. We had had 40 days and 40 nights of rain the previous July and were only just beginning to dry out as August rolled past, when September burst upon us with every promise of relief, comfort, and, of course, the hope of a brand new LD on the way. We didn’t even have a front door yet, on the little cabin BD was building, and Dusty, Ray Ellis’s dog, would wake us in the mornings, covered in dew, by jumping on our bed. That was the year R visited, while we still had only one, albeit, enormous, bed and we all slept in it together. BD still likes to tease and say R is the only other woman I’ve ever let him sleep with. (I was in the middle, thank you very much.)
The old water driven grist mill down on Essex Mill Road was still in operation, Eddie, the miller and Bessie, his wife - I kid you not! - lived in the little gray house at the top of the hill. Eddie would take your grain and make it into the most silken flour or crumbly meal. I used to like to plunge my hands deep into the flour and scoop up handfuls of it, savoring the delicious smoothness of it as it sifted back into the bin. He had all sorts of flour, including something he called gurgens, which he told me baked a bread that diabetics could eat. I haven’t a clue what it was but the bread made from his flour and baked in my little Atlanta Stoveworks wood fired oven was a food fit for the gods. La - I wonder if there is a picture somewhere, of that little stove.
That September we’d bought two lard tins full of flour, one graham, one white, and I distinctly remember baking high rounded, golden crusted loaves on that first Saturday in September. Bread. Staff of life. Foundation stone of western civilization. The combination of dreams fulfilled by that first baking was staggering. We had spent the past 2 months in a wet, steamy, army pup tent, waking every morning to warm damp sheets, trying to build a cabin and cook meals in the never ending rain. I had had so many meals rained out by the camp fire I had lost almost 30 lbs. Dinners of half cooked beans were common place. Now, canopied by September’s blue skies, roofed in a house with walls (though no doors), a bed, a stove, and a tin of flour - I could not only guarantee meals on the table 3 times a day, but also begin to fulfill those childhood Laura fantasies.
By my birthday we knew for sure there was a little darling on the way and I was so secretly pleased I couldn’t ask for anything else in life. Oh - I soon found other things to long for - other issues to deal with. Life will always provide you with things to struggle over, complain about, slog through. Some might even wonder where my brain was hiding, getting pregnant by an unemployed flute player of a husband while still living in a tent. My father sure did - and had only one epithet for our house - "That tar-paper shack". But we were happy. We were doing what we wanted to do. Making our funny way along The Quest, different from everybody else, sure, but being true to ourselves. Learning how to build a house, cook with wood, be a family, become good neighbors - we were doing all these things. And to help us along the way came September - month of renewal - month of harvest - month of blankets, bread and babies.
Now, 30 years later, comes another September - another crisp gift from the universe. Cerulean skies, emerald leaves blooming into gold and red and orange, night singing crickets and bread baking ovens. September. I celebrate it with all my heart. posted by Bess | 8:50 AM