Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I listened from the middle of the living room floor, sprawled out like a fallen oak on a mossy knoll, resting a while in the midst of this week of packing up for college the two remaining kids — a task filled with all kinds of emotion. The ol’ push and pull. Excitement, and some degree of a feeling hard to put to words. Not sadness. Not loneliness. They call it “empty nest” but I’m not a big fan of that one. This is what is supposed to happen. It’s a beautiful thing, change is. It makes the air crisp, and the landscape clearer.
But when someone you love leaves, there’s a space left behind. Inevitable. A silence, with echoes, and the challenge of filling that space. You can wander in circles and weep, or sit motionless by a window or shut down in ways that makes real life impossible. Or. You can rearrange the space, fill it with music and laughter, do some dancing, write some letters, open the windows, sing. You can choose to lift up “forward,” because that’s how we move. Think not, “away,” but “toward.” Because there’s the return to look to, and what a day that will be.
Life is all circles. Birth to death. Tilt-a-whirls and Ferris Wheels. Decisions to make, decisions made. Tears to laughter. Dawn to dusk. The seasons. The moon. A good night’s sleep. The whole trip through adolescence. Freckles and age spots. A warm apple pie. Grapes to wine. Home to school to home. Full circle.
T. S. Eliot said it better than I can. “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Big ol’ circle there. And you learn there are no goodbyes; there are partings and meantimes and untils. There is tomorrow. And the next day. And one day, the Knock.
How scattered I am, these days of change. How filled with memory, and hope, and the scent of the one candle burning. Lavender, for calm, as we pack up the notebooks and printers, jackets and socks, the floor lamps and hot chocolate and toothpaste and pens. Forward, then, and toward. Life is here, and Life awaits, and in the meantime let’s hold each other close.
You’ll find both of these recipes in my new cookbook, Recipes for Gatherings. Good for a patio party, or an end-of-summer family get-together. Add some fresh pineapple and some rum punch and have yourself a time.
Recipe from the Philippines, but it has become a classic Hawaiian dish.
3 lb boneless pork butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 T dried red chilies, crushed
Combine all ingredients in a container. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or so. Transfer the pork and marinade to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer another 15 minutes, until the pork is lightly browned. Serve with rice.
2 tsp oil
¾ cup shredded coconut
½ cup Sweet Vidalia onion, minced
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 ripe, firm mango, peeled and cubed
¼ cup fresh chives, minced
Heat oil in a large saucepan and add the coconut. Cook, stirring all the while, until lightly browned. Add minced onion, and cook and stir another minute. Add rice. Stir to coat, and add broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and stir in mango. Garnish with chives.