I woke up at 3:00 a.m. today. And I don’t know anymore if today is really today.
What is today. Not even sure it merits a period or a question mark. Or maybe just a blank space. All the things that rhyme with it. Tokay, Hungarian sweet wine. Maybe it does maybe it doesn’t. I remember that. Bringing it to someone’s Christmas party. Or maybe it was a birthday. It’s a sweet wine and that does not interest me anymore.
There is a bottle of Sauternes in the basement. From 1989. I saw it there the other day wrapped in an old rug someone gave me years ago. The one with the hunter green background and pink hummingbirds. I read somewhere that I should have opened it about ten years ago, or maybe five. It is drinkable now and not to hold. It was drinkable. This bottle will not get better with age. That alcoholic poet/ waiter gave it to me. Other than this bottle, 1989 was a good year for Sauternes. The year my father died.
Whenever I look for a recipe for some holiday dinner and I go rummaging through my old “Gourmet” magazines, all the good recipes are from 1989. Odd. But true. As though his death made everything taste better. As though his ashes enriched the soil, made the plants grow taller, stronger. The recipes full of interesting, complex and rich ingredients. And I make it and weep a little. My father would appreciate that Sauternes. Taste his own ashes in it.
Sauternes is sweet. But that is an understatement. It is not sweet like candy. Sweet like kisses. But sweet like air, water, soil, somewhere, that magically produced this grape. It is supposed to have a hint of apricot or peach or honey. What kind of honey? The jar of honey that is standing on the kitchen table smells like insecticide. That Sauternes is to drink with goose or duck livers. Foie gras. The food of murdering souls.
I always identified Sauternes with murder. Rich, lavish, decadent murders. I think I’d rather just eat a real peach or real apricot. Or a spoonful of unpoisoned honey.
I always thought you and I might drink that Sauternes with a delicate tort or something less evil, something more divine.
Maybe something dry and ascetic like a Carr’s water cracker. A thin communion wafer.
Maybe we could just sip it in the open air. Summer is too hot and spring too uncertain.
A nice cool forest would be nice. Even a snowy field. The one we crossed once skiing in the dark or was it early morning?
It might be nice to sip it on a mountainside in Switzerland over dinner with cold friends wearing freezing pearls at one of your dinner parties. And the snow would be falling on their bare skin and the Sauternes might keep them warm until the fires start and they could open up their presents.
My feet are so cold now sitting here in this ugly little room. The one the engineer built in 1939. What a time to build a house here on this vacant German farm land. The religion and codes all gone. The apple orchards gone. The wheat rotting in the back yard replaced by ragged Viburnums.
I put on some old socks hurriedly to protect my cold feet. But I feel the icy floors anyway. But my socks have no holes in them. If a sock has a hole in it I just throw it away. Shameful I know, but that is my one extravagance. Throwing old socks away. Because my mother never did. I remember visiting her one day. She was sitting on that old silk couch and staring at me and I looked at her and shrieked. “You have a hole in your sock!” And she shrugged as though it was alright.
“A hole in your sock, a hole in your lungs….what’s the difference?”
I have no idea why I am thinking now about my mother and the holes in her socks. That she never bothered to mend. That beautiful evening dress I bought her that she stuck in the back of her closet. All “schmatas” she said.
My father on the other hand never had holes in his clothes. Because he never really wore them. Buy him a shirt he hangs it up in his closet. Buy him blue silk pajamas he puts them in a drawer. He wore an ugly red robe day in and day out that terrorized us. We thought it looked like a devil’s robe. It was bloody red like the White House Christmas trees.
The animals are trying to get in the house this morning. I heard something banging against the back door. A racoon or possum or maybe a great big bear trying to force its way in. Instead of checking it out I just pulled the blinds tighter. It stopped then, the noise. Just stopped like a bear getting bored with you and going fishing.
There are always weird tracks in the back yard. Tiny claw like ones and big wide ones like snowshoes. Big and fat ones like pudgy fingers gardening in the dark.
Like stars collapsing on the lawn. Like ducks falling down. Like gnomes walking around. Like my mother coming to peer into the windows and leaving holes in the garden. Maybe for me to fall into.
That bottle of Sauternes is waiting. Waiting for me and the moon and some light refreshment. Something you can eat on the run or in the dark. Something light to take with you while feeling the snow the rain the everything of this night. And maybe catching whoever is pounding at your door.
Dearest O, I hope you are well. I enjoyed reading your blog. Whether past or present this season,quality time with family and friends is truly what makes timeless memories.It was a pleasure meeting you, although I feel as though i’ve known you for years. A memorable experience to say the least. A testament of how the impossible with man can only be made possible with God.Wishing you a belated Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2019! Hoping this year brings you good health and happiness. Cassandra- your plane buddy
My Dear Dear Cassandra,
What a gift to hear from you five minutes of midnight…on the cusp
of a New Year! I cannot tell you what a ray of light and hope that was.
I have often thought about you and spoke of our encounter with my family and friends.
I have had a third death this December. One of my most dear and precious friends!
It is unbearable. But you provided that ray of sunshine, and reminded me that
God will help us bear whatever we must bear in this life. And the hope that there is still joy
that will come and a happier New Year. Yes I feel I have known you
for a long long time…… I am so happy you reached out! Wishing you and your family
peace and good health and much happiness. What a gift, Cassandra, you are.
My Dearest O, I’m so happy to see you responded so quickly. But, so sorry to hear of yet another passing of a close friend. May His grace be sufficient and may His word bring you peace and comfort. I also have many told many of our encounter. It’s crazy to think how I would wish I could meet someone “cool” while traveling. I’m so glad that God planned and sent you to sit beside me that day.You had made my day… now turning into weeks.. lol..I can honestly say it was the highlight of my trip.Definitely, one for the books. Without a doubt I know that our experience was a preview of what to expect in this next life with Him. Please keep in touch. Sending you lots of love and hugs for 2019.God Bless. -Cassandra
The most memorable people I have met in this life have appeared like you did,
on that plane, or on the street, or… and yes, these are probably not chance encounters
but meant to be. Just like you brightened up that sad day during my trip north, you
totally brightened up this week by your lovely note. Tell me how you are.. I hope that you are very well and no sadness is entering your life. O
Sorry to hear you have suffered the bereavement of people close to you. May God and your memories of good times with them be a source of comfort.
I stopped by to wish you inner peace, inexplicable joy and the increasing awareness of God’s overwhelming and precious love for you. Have a happy New Year!
Thank you for your very sweet and hopeful New Year’s Greeting. Wishing you and your family the very best for 2019. You are a very bright light.
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Awww! Thank you so much dear O for saying that. It’s always nice to know when one is having a positive impact. Your good wishes are appreciated. Have a blessed day! 🙂