What a rainy day. And cold. And dark. The kind of cold rainy day that goes right through the bones as they say.
I still get up early. Because, even though it’s October, I still must have my first cup of coffee walking through the garden. One cup to wake up in and the other to see the beauty in.
Sometimes I walk in the garden and the moon is still out. Sometimes a few stars. Sometimes a frightened possum or raccoon or squirrel or sleepy bird is there and I probably startle them… or maybe they know already… who it is and what it is I am doing there…. Wandering.. A nomad in my little suburban town.
Today it was rain early in the morning. Not just a light drizzle but a steady rain. I went out anyway. In my warm green robe that a very thoughtful friend bought me years ago when she saw me shivering in that white and navy silk polka dot robe that you bought me. It’s so pretty. So elegant. Like something Myrna Loy would wear in “The Thin Man”. But it doesn’t work in my old and drafty house. I would put it on in the morning and walked around the house shaking and shivering but I looked good. But, my friend, she saw I was freezing. Those were the days I even put on my makeup in the morning, especially the red lipstick. In case a neighbor came by or the postman rang or it was time to die and then when the ambulance came at least I wouldn’t be a mess. It’s so silly I know. But some of us still do this. A friend of mine cut her arm badly, blood spurting everywhere, but she ended up taking a shower and getting dressed and most of all, put on her lipstick before she went to the hospital.
Now it’s the fleecy green robe. For years I didn’t really like it because it’s not quite the right shade of green and it didn’t go with the colors in the house. It didn’t look good while I was standing on the living room rug. Even more silly, I know, maybe insane. It’s one thing to have an aesthetic but worrying about whether or not you match your furniture…. and the lipstick thing…. But that robe, the good one… It’s still warm and in one piece.
I still have the silky white and polka dot one. Because it reminds me of those days long ago and the absolutely thoughtful sentiment that went into giving me this robe. Because then it worked, then it fit, then it kept me warm and calm and I moved through the rooms in that lovely condo with ease and joy. There was order, there was money, there was hope. There were many dinner parties and friends and even a secret lover or two. That robe looked really good while I was drinking martinis.
I don’t know why I am writing about these robes. I was really wanting to write about roses in the rain a few weeks ago at the Botanic Garden. I took maybe fifty pictures of roses in the rain. It would take a thousand years to write, really, exactly, descriptively, about roses and what they do to you.
My old green robe is perfectly suited to walk around the October garden. In the cold and the rain. It’s so plush that the rain just falls and stays lightly on the top. It’s thick enough that I can stay fairly warm while I walk in the rain. It keeps me dry down the long walk on the gravel driveway.. there are still a few tomatoes lingering in the pots… the small green ones… still green. And the big beefy red ones that never got big or beefy or red. Just a sort of dull greenish rose. When I picked one in August it was half rotten and I ate the other half. It was mellow and slightly tart, even a little salty. The skin was. What? I don’t know. I don’t know how to describe the skin. All I know is this tomato that looked old and half rotten had a delicious mild flavor. And the skin I think, just melted in my mouth like butter. There are three or four hanging on the vine and I will pick them in a day or two and make green tomato pasta sauce. I will use up all the other green ones dangling like marbles from the tired vines, and I may even pick up some that have fallen on the gravel. I might even see ones that the squirrels bit into and then threw away. Should I eat them too? The squirrels sometimes, they seem cleaner to me than people. Even though I started out writing about the park, I am now only thinking about tomatoes and:
Recipe for green tomato sauce:
lots of garlic— two or three cloves or six or eight for real garlic lovers, or a hundred
medium yellow or white onion (or a small one)
olive oil (you decide– a tablespoon or two or three or ….)
a pile of green tomatoes (whatever you have left on the vines– if you only have 3 or 4 med sized tomatoes this will work, throw in some tiny ones too)
crushed red pepper flakes (half a teaspoon or maybe a full one)
parsley– a chopped handful if you have some
chop up the onions and garlic and saute in oil until soft, add crushed peppers
add the tomatoes (coarsely chopped) and cook until soft, season with salt/ freshly ground pepper, or if you don’t have any fresh pepper, the old powdery pepper in the dusty bottle will do
ladle over freshly cooked spaghetti or linguine or angel hair pasta
grate freshly grated parmesan on the whole thing or romano or pecorino
A few capers might be good too. A tiny bit of anchovy paste might work.
So I’m feeling a bit strange and I wonder and wonder why things are taking such a strange turn. The weather. It must be the weather. It was too much. Too much weather. And it didn’t do what it was supposed to do.
I did not get bright sunny blue sky days. I did not get gentle rain. I did not get balmy breezes. I did not get roses. I did not get everlasting white lilacs. I remember seeing them out there one morning while I was rushing off somewhere and thought you must smell the lilacs you must smell the lilacs… and then they were gone….
I did not get warm and balmy nights sitting with friends in the dark savoring the last of the bread and the cheese… the ripe figs in September, the melons, the strawberries that were tiny and sweet, the raspberries that you could eat forever…. I did not make that tomato pie, I never made that strawberry whipped cream cake, I never did go to the beach with you like we used to…. and then coming home, the table in the garden waiting for us, the tablecloth with the purple and gold grapes trailing down onto the grass, the crystal vase full of phlox and lilies and roses… the wine glasses with those very very long stems like roses….
And the wine. The wine we drank all day and afternoon long into the night… it would take a thousand years to describe the wine and what it did to us…
I’m hungry and have to go and make lunch now. But…. I wanted to describe the morning today trying to walk out into the garden with my coffee. What it was like…The Rain! Like a child I thought oh no! The rain why must it rain now when I have to walk in the garden! I have to see the coral chrysanthemums that we finally bought just this Saturday to decorate our fading gardens,.. I have to see them standing there like forgotten golden girls in ballerina dresses waiting at both sides like sentinels of pleasure and joy, I have to see the tiny verbena and magenta lobelia trailing down the black antique urns… the leaves turning… that one stubborn constant Queen Anne’s lace hanging on hanging on like some dowager at a ball. There is still so much beauty there and it is hiding hiding hiding….
Walking through the rainy cold park today oh what joy. All alone in the park and the grass almost squishy.. I walked onto the grass instead of staying on the paths…. the grass I wanted to run and play and sleep in just yesterday…. I walked past the little grotto where the statue of St. Francis of Assisi was years ago and someone snatched it away and the grotto is empty.. sometimes someone puts in flowers.. they stick them in the crevices.. like the blue irises I saw there years ago, and once there was a tiny angel… then someone else who does not want any religiosity in the park snatches it away…..oh what can a tiny angel do to you ……. as I was walking past the empty grotto I noticed a tall narrow white vase tucked in at the side.. and then realized it was a glass vase holding a long white candle … walking away then down the path just before I came to my mother’s memorial tree the air filled with fragrance. A gorgeous powdery baby soft slightly vanilla jasmine lilac scent. A scent of clouds and swans and feather pillows, a scent of clean sheets hanging in the wind, a scent of rain and rain washed roses, white ones white ones white ones…..