How We Love
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Mr. S was home at last, and we were having a fine time just sitting there in the kitchen eating pizza and talking and trying to sing along with Mr. Paul Simon’s new song “Wristband” without knowing the words, and laughing a whole lot. Then Mr. S went off to watch his Show, the one that begins precisely at 8 pm, and I proceeded to make a very fine batch of caramels. It’s like that when you have been with someone for a good while. You can do all the things that make you who you are and it’s all fine and good and sometimes the other person will join in, and sometimes they will go do their thing, but you’re still together, in ways, and it feels mighty good.
It’s the week before Valentine’s Day. Spent a good stretch of hours to find the right quote to share, but there are so many good quotes about love I couldn’t narrow it to one. I asked Mr. S what is his favorite quote about love, and there was silence, for a moment, from the living room. “Well,” he said. And more silence. “How ‘bout that one about loving you better after death? You know, ‘How do I love you? Let me count the ways…’ That one. Or the one by Poe, ‘We loved with a love that was more than love.’ I like that one.” Mr. S has always been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. “Or that one from Brokeback Mountain, ‘I wish I knew how to quit you.’” He laughed. “Oh, hey, how bout, “I fell into a burning ring of fire…” He was really laughing by now. Belly laughing.
I let out a big ol’ sigh. So much for that. And then there he was, standing right there in the kitchen, red-faced in his red flannel shirt, wiping tears away. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Got myself carried away. What was it you were asking? Oh, a quote about love? Well, I was going to save this for Valentine’s Day, but it seems appropriate to share it with you right now.” I was a bit confused. He took my hand, and then he, Mr. Sundberg, man of few words unless he’s on a motivational speech tour or had a few beers at a gathering, looked into my eyes and recited, in a slight Southern accent, lines from Keats’ “Endymion”, one of my favorite poems ever:
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: / Its loveliness increases; it will never / Pass into nothingness; but still will keep / A bower quiet for us, and a sleep / Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
“That’s my favorite quote about love,” he said. Oh my. I let out a big ol’ sigh, and gave him The Longest Hug for what was about the sweetest gift in the history of Mr. S and me. (I didn’t ask him about the accent. Some people do that when they memorize someone else’s words, and I rather liked it.)
And the thought I keep returning to since that evening is that what matters most, really, is how we love. That pretty much covers it for me, pretty much covers everything. Because how you love carries over. Into how you work, dance, sleep, make art and music, bake, parent, make friends, worship, volunteer yourself, shop for groceries, communicate in general, take out the trash, exercise, etc. Yep. Sure does. A fine and mighty thing, Love is. Give it all ya got.
Here’s a recipe for a couple of sweet things to make for someone you love — caramels or sugar cookies — as I’ve always felt a gift you make yourself is the best kind of gift. Especially where love is involved.
2 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon real vanilla
Butter 13×9-inch pan; set aside.
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, 15-20 minutes or until butter is melted and mixture comes to a boil.
Continue cooking, 25-30 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 244°F or small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms a pretty solid ball.
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan and cool.
Cut into 1½x1-inch pieces; wrap candies in plastic food wrap or wax paper. Store refrigerated.
The Sugar Cookie
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1½ tsp vanilla
3½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix.
Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Chill dough for 3 hours or so.
Roll out, as thin or thick as you wish; cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 375 for 8-10 minutes.
Frost with powdered sugar frosting, or don’t frost at all.