I'm down with the flu, after a lovely Christmas-- the bug held off until after dinner on December 25th, thanks be to God. I found this in my draft file, though, from a few weeks ago.
The narcissus begin to open. I purchased a small basket at the beginning of Advent, maybe six bulbs total, but the stems are prolific, more than ten bunches and only the first two pungent sets stretching out today. The advent calendars came out late, after my papers were turned in for the quarter, but flower bulbs are all about waiting, watching, stretching upward.
I haven’t tended my neighbors for a long time, disappearing in plain sight for the past few months, but when I pull my minivan into its space, Wayne pops out of his door to offer “lemon-chicken soup—I have too much.” (The last time he spoke to me was to taunt me about my car maintenance again, because I could’ve prevented that rust, tsk, tsk… Soup gifts, now that’s more like ‘neighborly’.)
I open the container, hungry, to find it’s avgolemono, not merely lemon-chicken soup but something really hard to do well, a taste I’ve not enjoyed for more than a decade, and still I remember it. I warm it gently, to not curdle the frothy layer on top. As it warms I think of the Greek restaurant in Vancouver, the window view on the busy street where I’d wait for my friends to finish with classes so we could visit, 1989 I believe, the place to finish with rose-petal jam on ice cream.
I pour the bowl too full and slurp it from the rim, my bowl of luxury this day.
I planned—really planned—an excursion to the outlets, an hour north, for underwear and pajamas, for my children who insist they truly want underwear and pajamas for Christmas, along with toys. The weather report seemed daunting, but it’s never to be trusted, honestly. I found myself oddly resistant to leaving the house, and sure enough, the snow is pummeling, now, beauty dropping from the sky, my reward for sluggishness today. While a sluggish homebody, I’ve begun to read three books for the next quarter—it begins in January, but ten books in ten weeks is too much of a challenge, so I’d best get a head start. Besides, this stack of books is irresistible.
I am counting blessings, reading email, glad for no looming deadline, when a bitter, bitter taste fills my mouth—and I spit out the hull of a genuine lemon seed. I need to eat other people’s cooking more often. Even the bitter is a delight: real. This soup is real.
The snow builds—I’d best find layers and boots and all the acoutrements. Scraper? Hmmm. Shovel? Adventure. The bowl goes to the sink and I’m off to find the wool socks.