Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tomatoes, figs, angels

August isn't usually a month I spend here on the west coast. It's hot here in August, exasperated by the fact that our air conditioning is very temperamental and will only work when coaxed gently, and then only for fickle spurts. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about tomatoes and peaches and figs and all the delicious August fruits. Long-lost cousins from Amsterdam came for dinner last night which provided the perfect opportunity for incorporating all my favorites fruits into one meal - prosciutto with figs, mint, feta & olive oil; roast chicken with a tiny tomato salad (just tomatoes and good olive oil and a little salt; and vanilla ice cream with peaches (and mini donuts). The vanilla ice cream and peaches were dropped along the way in favor of the donuts, but I had a Thomas Keller moment just in the imagining part...perhaps serving the ice cream in a small espresso cup. ("Pretentious, Moi?" -- Miss Piggy). August is brown and hot and humid and even the puppy is in a languid state, stretched out on the sofa under the whir of the ceiling fan. Many of my friends are still away and I receive emails here and there with photographs of half-dressed people on boats with mountains behind them and still, cool water. The sensible thing to do would be, like all the mothers with toddlers on Balboa Island, to get up really early and pack a cooler & jump on the 101 N bound for the beach. You see them in their Volvo wagons with the striped beach chairs in the back, between one and three children in car seats, and of course the requisite HOPE sticker on the back. The garden is dry and the roses are wilting. I have to water the fig tree separately in an effort to plump up the fruit as it ripens. The olives are green and fat and they are so prolific that I cut branches to bring into the house.

Lorna Byrne's Angels in My Hair is on my bedside table. I want to tell everyone about it but fear it will appear that I've lost the few marbles I had left. I enjoy it secretly and read paragraphs aloud to Honor as she lays on my bed with her eyes closed for concentration. There is more about this book here.

This is also quite interesting. In trying to deal with my son's going away, I look for ways to be okay with it. It's not that I think he'll be unhappy; it's just, selfishly, a feeling that the invisible string that connects us to each other will be broken somehow. He is my first and hence we are a little witchy together. There is a beautiful tree at Bard which looks like an angel, with a small head and giant leafy wings. I took a picture of the tree. I thought, well, he will be fine, because there's his tree angel, his guardian angel that will take care of him. It's silly, I know, and I wouldn't usually admit to such silliness (I'm convinced too that the dove that lands on the waterfall every evening is somehow the spirit of my dead father, but that's another story!) but then the Lorna Byrne book arrived and I started to read it. On page 58, is this paragraph...
"I call this angel 'the tree angel' because she always appears in a tree....She seems to be alive in every part of the tree yet I can see her so clearly...I have often spoken to her and her voice, when she speaks back to me, is like a whistle; it is as if her voice rustles among the leaves of the trees." I think that's lovely, for so many reasons.

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