Winter. Time for what’s
told only when light
makes itself scarce. Slight days,
cold-hefted nights lengthened for listening
from the poem “Gather Close” by Paulann Petersen
One day, we took a drive. Wheels turning along the banks of a great river, past the lacy descent of a waterfall, under the shadow of autumn hills, to an apple orchard.
There, we stood on tiptoes, reaching for the bright, firey-red apples, juicy with flame, bursting with a sweetness that only the sunshine itself could create, the longest-burning candle I know.
We picked them one by one from the branches, hauling them into bags stem and leaves and all, one bag after another, fall’s great bounty.
Once home, we search for stray worms, burrowed deep, cutting around bruises and scars and nicks in the flesh, beautiful imperfections. We light the irons on the stove until they glow red, flames dancing indoors, and using our sharpest knives, we pierce the skin of each fruit, revealing the vulnerability of each white flesh which so easily flushes brown. Shame? One by one, they go into the pot.
Some time later, we have apple sauce. Warmed all around, marbled with sneeze-inducing spice of cinnamon, spooned into bowls, steaming, served over potato pancakes in the firelight.
One spoonful after another, warming our bellies made of fire.
* * *
Sitting around the rickety wooden table, warm mugs in our hands, Andrew and I sat, discussing life’s great changes. We reached the root of each other’s souls, trying to understand each other’s solitude. Feeling the rumble of our bellies, we meandered to the front door to seek out dinner. While we had been sitting in my kitchen, a soft June rain licked at the windows as the day’s light dwindled with the passing hours.
Reaching the door, we expected to put our hoods up and make a run for it, but instead we were met with a warm breeze on our faces and the smell of wet earth. Stepping out, the light soft and golden, we looked down Jefferson at the slope and rise of the hill as it rose to meet Swedish Medical Center.
The sun had set behind the nursing building, the sky a brilliant pink and gold. And in front of this, the light from the sunset, straining through the rain off in the distance, was a rainbow. Its bright colors gave way to the sunset behind, the perfect marriage. Our hearts full, our smiles wide, we continued to dinner.
* * *
Friday nights are for cooking, for steaming up the windows, for turning on the oven to cook bread or cookies as a way of getting warm in a cold apartment. Friday nights are for putting on your apron and sharpening the knives, for washing red peppers and taking seeds out of squash. Friday nights are for turning on the record player and waltzing with a wooden spoon in hand, for sharing kisses warm with garlic and tomato sauce. Friday nights are for lamp shades glowing with secrets, for candles flickering against the walls, and for turning up the irons in the oven. Friday nights are for reading through Mom’s old recipes, picking one that reminds you of dinners shoveled down before soccer practice or family feuds during the holidays. Friday nights are for friends and corkscrews and red wine and buttered bread. Friday nights are for tuning guitars and singing and blankets thrown over laps. Friday nights are the sacred time. When we’re too tired to go out dancing but are perfectly content tapping our feet to sultry jazz or Irish fiddle seducing us from the boombox.