Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Straddling Old and New

Here's hoping yesterday was not another "It's a Monday Moaner;" instead, I hope everyone was so glad to get over the weekend that we hugged Monday so hard its bones creaked like old fashioned stays. Tuesday's totally embraceable too because we're still huffing Monday's lovely fumes. We basked in sunshine two days in a row here. And while I love overcast dove gray days as much as any other, I got to sit on the patio while the birds looked down on me in wonder. Baby birds chirped! How? Because although I twisted and turned in every direction that has trees, I could not for the life of me discover their hidey home. Their trills sounded so sweet--sweeter than a sugar beet tastes. Or so I imagine. Truth is I had trust Google for the sugar beet facts, and ended up wondering why sugar cane isn't preferred. No matter since I like turbinado sugar best anyway. A little goes a long way and it enriches my tea while I sip and read. Or write. Or sit on the patio. One cannot eat sugar cane and sip-read-write, but I do like those sugary bites my mama taught me to savor. We were kids when she did. We laughed, groaned, and made fun of her for thinking we'd touch that funny looking length of pole with a ten foot pole! But it was pretty with all those colors that blended from deep root beer purple to pale-pale green. 

She ignored her silly children, and peeled back sections of the stalk with the sharpest knife in the kitchen. Six cuts in all with the first being hers. You smelled the juice before you saw it! My mouth waters now just as it did way back then! I got the first piece, and made like a vampire. Mama just laughed and said, "Just chew it." She didn't have to tell me twice. Too entranced to ask if we should wash it first, I bit. Warm sweetness gushed, filled my mouth, and dribbled down my chin before I swallowed a single bite. Who knew? Why didn't she warn me? I tried to lick my chin and simply forgot to talk but I grinned. Those bursts of flavor and juice running down converted me. I chewed quicker-quick-quick--as vigorously as all get out, and had that de-juiced fiber been pounded and spread out, it could have been pressed into paper. It was just that good! And no, you cannot, should not ever try to swallow the fiber after the good stuff is gone. 

With five children I still wonder why our mama brought home a single stalk of sugar cane. To tempt us, of course! To teach us a little bit more of the world we lived in then? To share a little sweetness from her childhood--her old life? Such a lesson for the city kids she and Daddy brought back to their hometown never left us. So I asked. Turned out her cousin's husband was pressing sugar can for cane syrup, and he gave her a gift for her young 'uns. I can see bamboo to this very day and taste that pale sweet nectar like I'd discovered it for the first time just this morning. There's a story behind my very first taste of turbinado sugar too, but it'll keep for another day.

Good mail is just as memorable as sugar cane. Even unanswered it stays with me, and I find yourself composing replies in my head as I go about my daily busy-ness of living, just like some of y'all. I tend to sit and engage in daily contemplation more than ever lately but I believe that is just another part of what comes with this season. I find myself reading a little bit more instead of pining for things I cannot quite picture or name. Keeping notes and forgetting why I did is slowly coming back to me. It's because I mean to share lovely anecdotes with particular pen friends! Reading through a recipe to see if the ingredients are on hand happens more frequently too. I dream of avocado sandwiches! Do you cook less and boil more in winter? I do. But I see yellow layer cakes instead of apple bread too. Green apples! Green pastas and colored salads quicken may palate! What? Am I ahead of Spring already? The new year always shakes me up a little--sure signs the Green Season is waiting in the wings!

The new year is the best time to file away the past year's mail as well. You'll find it in the most unlikely places throughout our home including summer's put away bag, books, drawers, and any one of my Mama's Got a Brand New Bag bag. Wherever I am have been, mail is. I marvel at all the words sent my way and returned in reply before guilt stabs and jabs my conscience over the envelopes and postcards that fell along the way to shorter days, diminished energy and presence of mind. I muster enough goodwill for one letter . . . two . . . and then I'm blue again. Not sad blue! No, not sad, but a blue that's too calm to disturb; the blue that gets you through winter because it swaddles me in a blanket of Peace and Detachment that Mom Nature knit and blocked just for me. It gets a body through the darkness. Father Time helps me lose count of days and weeks when he allows me to sit on my hands, or do some of the things I've neglected three seasons back. In truth, to every thing there really is a season. And it is so when it comes to correspondence. 'Tis the time to collect last year's mail, band it and box it, and put it away. 

This is me straddling last year and the new. It's a good feel.


  1. I could almost taste the sweetness of the sugar cane as I read your description. What a lovely memory. Here in England, the sugar we use is made from sugar beets, though I've never actually tasted a sugar beet. I have been using a single demerara cube in my tea these days. I'm hooked on Chai tea. It has another element of warmth on a cold day.

    1. Cleaning up after our recent frost brought unexpected memories. The "firecracker" plant my Aunt Mary gave me over a decade ago died of frostbite for the first time. A few machete whacks laid bare stalks that look so much like sugar cane I had to share those memories again. I think the sugar beet is a lovely mysterious plant but cannot help but wonder if cane is more profitable. I want to try growing a small patch of sugar beets from seed. Just because.

      I am on a quest to find that sugar from Guyana. Damerara. I like that name. Ahhh! Rum! Google is a blessing! As is chai tea and tai chi. Sorry. LOL. There's a syrup too. I am crazy for cane syrup on pancakes. Oh, yum! I like chai hot and cold. Which do you prefer? I get it from Starbuck's but bought a carton of ready-made from WFM once. I never drank it though since I could not imagine such a tea being good from a box. Another new treat is malted black Irish tea with a tiny tiny sprinkle of cardamom. Too much it it's soapy.

  2. oh my what a lovely post . I hope you got my posts to you . well you take care and stay well my dear , stay well .

    1. Thank you, phone lady. You take care too, okay?