I don’t know why I am writing about sausage, eggs and honey, accompanied by Maria Callas singing “The Gypsy Song” from the opera “Carmen”. I don’t know why the eggs didn’t break this morning as I was holding them above the skillet tapping them with a knife.
There are different ways of breaking an egg and it depends on what you are making with that egg, what you are holding below them. A mixing bowl a pan a little dish? One chef suggests just tapping it on a flat surface like your counter or table. He said it works every time. Not for me, the egg just ends up having starburst tiny lines all over it and then when you try to get the egg to split and spill its contents it is a mushy eggy shelly mess.
When I crack the egg on the side of the bowl sometimes it works and sometimes not. My favorite way is to tap it with a butter knife along its middle. It usually works, the egg comes out whole and the shell does not disintegrate.
I have been eating too many eggs. I love eggs. Over easy, scrambled, poached, soft-boiled like M.F.K Fisher loved: boil your egg very gently until the white is cooked and the yolk still runny and silky smooth. The perfect sauce. Then put it in a small bowl, add a pat of fresh, unsalted butter, a sprinkle of coarse salt, and a few cracks of fresh pepper. Heaven! Unless you hate soft runny things.
I bought too many eggs over the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking there would be recipes calling for many eggs. There was just one and now I have two cartons of eggs in the fridge that must be eaten. By me. What is better than eggs, toast, and bacon or sausage, potatoes maybe, all crusty brown and creamy soft inside! Jam or marmalade, steaming cups of black coffee with a little cream…especially leftover vanilla infused whipped cream from Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie…… floating on top of your black coffee and then falling down your throat like melted clouds.
Today is a cold, to some bleak morning, most of the leaves gone on the trees except the four across the street by the school, almost intact, still in shades of yellow, red and green, almost complete like persevering humans. The peach climbing rose in the garden is still clinging to the rose arbor, the leaves green as Irish clover.
The gardener came yesterday to finish fall cleanup… picking up the rest of the leaves, scooping up the wilted mushy piles of hostas, cutting down the last of the snapdragons in the window boxes… they were not ready to go, still sending out blooms though faded and pale. I wanted to keep them, thinking they would send out a burst of color like snapdragons often do late in fall. But we cut them down to make room for the Christmas greens. I should have put the greens in yesterday or the day before when it was prematurely warm.. 50’s..today it’s in the 30’s. Soon the dirt in the pots will be too hard and I will have to pour hot water over them and then try to stick the branches in, making what should be a wonderful happy chore into a frustrating cursing thing.
Yesterday, walking through the park, I could have stayed there forever….. the Bald Cypress’ scattering their needles in pools of thick brown velvet. I almost wanted to fall down and sleep there … the hybrid oaks like massive sculptures still holding on to their long crinkled leaves … the large yellow irises that sent out premature buds and bloomed a couple of weeks ago like they do in June… with huge chiffony flowers.. are now lying in yellow puddles like the egg yolks I ate this morning.
The maples, the lindens, the willows in the nun’s garden….. the newly planted trees with their feeding bags like horses in the meadows…. thistly horned prickly fuzzy twigs and branches, seeds and pods of all the flowers and grasses, crinkling rustling singing late autumn songs….. the trees all seemed to be sighing, trying to tell me something. If I listened close enough I might be able to fathom what deep secret they are hiding. Trees have deep secrets, that I know.
The grass still green as summer… the white arbor holding up the last remnants of the autumn clematis, some clusters of purple asters still blooming.. the voluptuous drying hydrangeas everywhere thick and brown like caramel crunch, coffee with too much cream, like crispy browned onions in the pan.
The sky grey, pearly, and distant, the clouds perfumed with the scents rising up from the ground, all the disintegrated flowers and herbs shooting straight up to those golden towers lingering there like night jasmine in a summer garden. Sometimes you can feel it all waiting. Waiting and sighing. Waiting for us all to behave, to start fresh, or maybe to just end.
I couldn’t rake the leaves this year, the first time in 17 years. The gardener had to do it. He was noisy, a bit sloppy and his pants kept sliding down his behind showing his naked skin looking cold and weird in the fading garden, the 35 degree weather. And that noisy blower and gasoline smell….Then he asked me if he should use a rake. I said “Yes, please.”
I love raking out the garden even if it takes hours and hours…. the slow sure raking of the jeweled leaves, some matte, some shiny, some leathery, others thin and translucent like the skin of an old lady tucking herself into bed…… this orderly putting away of summer’s charms gives me peace, a sense of direction, of calm, of seasonal balance… putting my mind and body right, at ease. Just to take a breath of frosty autumn air, tinged with all the faded dying things, yet full of luscious fragrances like apples baking in the oven, exploding with all of nature’s buried charms. The leaves in every color, the gleaming grass still smelling of summer, showing the imprints of my happy feet… the scent of burning incense, the violet smoke, the ruby sky, the piles of leaves on the curb like my harvest, my grain, my wheat, my barley, corn and lentils to make my very own Ezekiel bread…. the hard tack of sustenance to keep me going. Like eating raw earth, shoving it into your mouth with insatiable desire to stave off hunger, sickness and death, the coming cold and gales of winter.
The eggs I got out of the carton this morning were very small perfectly oval eggs, brown and “organic” meaning eggs like the ones our grandparents or maybe great great grandparents ate. I tapped the egg and it didn’t break, not even a tiny hairline crack. I tapped and tapped. Nothing. Then a shiver of fear and loathing came over me, that there was something inside of the egg. Some slimy blood-washed tiny creature who did not want to come out… fearing a beak or a little leg peeping through I almost tossed the egg, then just tapped harder and it came— perfect round yolks surrounded by a firm, pellucid albumen. The shells harder than any I ever saw, almost a double shell, one brown and then another layer like insulation. Against the cold the ugly, the poison, as though that egg wanted to stay inside. I looked at its perfect shape and reluctantly threw out the shells, hard as porcelain.
I fried the eggs in butter marveling still at their perfect shape and size. I made white toast –a sometimes aberration– put three fat slices of sausages in a cold pan, the kind you use in stuffing for a turkey, almost reeking of sage and loaded with salt… I drizzled the toast with honey and ate that rich fatty buttery salty breakfast perfumed with the honey of a thousand flowers.
Then suddenly I heard a voice, it was Maria Callas on the radio. A sultry velvety voice full of longing and pain. Even her happy songs had a little pain. She looked like pain, like beautiful Grecian pain, like a vase found in some archaeological site sill intact but just holding on, fragile, delicate, and tough yet about to shatter into dust…. her long regal nose, her dark coiling hair falling down her trembling shoulders…those painted Cleopatra eyes… always searching for her Anthony searching and searching. They said her voice was one of “perfect imperfection”. Velvety in the middle, steely and almost shrill at the top and the high notes were “shrieks”. But the drama, the emotion, the passion was unparalleled. Her voice was life itself.
I remembered a story I heard about her… this beautiful, famous, rich artist, the companion of Aristotle Onassis, who at the end of her life was so lonely she only wanted a little dish of ice cream… after walking home with a friend in New York after a dinner party. He was about to go home to his wife and children and she spied a gelateria on the corner and asked him to please go in with her, she didn’t want to go home…. could they just have a little dish of ice cream…. She was so lonely then, already losing her voice…. a dish of ice cream is all she wanted.
And now, listening to her singing the “Gypsy Song” from “Carmen”, I eat my eggs and toast and honey and I want nothing, nothing at all.