November 9, 2016
Yesterday was also a momentous day in the Ashbury family. We had two birthdays on November 8—my husband’s, and our second daughter, Sonja’s. It’s difficult with her schedule and our daughter’s, but we work hard to have a time when we can all go out to dinner together, to celebrate. This year, it was the day before yesterday—Monday, the 7th. It makes for a nice party at the local Keg Steakhouse: there’s ten of us. For this occasion, our instructions to the gang have always been to order whatever they want. We usually get a few appetizer platters for sharing, as well. The main courses by themselves are more food than I can eat, but that’s what ‘doggie’ bags are for.
Our two youngest grandchildren have always had a good sense of gastronomic adventure, willing to try anything once. When they were small, they weren’t interested in eating junk food so much as just basic good food. When I had them overnight, especially during the winter, they would often request hot cereal for breakfast, opting for that over their sugar-sweetened favorites. No instant hot cereals in this house, either. Just regular oatmeal, oat bran, cornmeal and cream of wheat, cereals that require good, old fashioned cooking.
When we’d go to the Keg for our annual expensive pig-out, they would happily try mushrooms stuffed with crab, bacon wrapped scallops, or whatever else we ordered as appetizers. Now they’re 16 (granddaughter) and 14 (grandson) and they spent the first part of the evening with their young cousins, my two great-grandbabies who are 3 and 2. It warmed me to see them encourage the little ones to try the appetizers, too. Abby loved the crab stuffing, and Archer, at two years old, was all about those scallops!
There’s something about the rhythm of day to day life, especially at this time of year, that I find comforting. It’s the beat of the music that our souls recognize as we go through the days, one after the other, as the seasons ebb and flow. Colder weather brings out hearty meals, hot cocoa, and snuggling down with a blanket, often more for comfort than for warmth. There are of course, new episodes of our favorite television shows to watch, and there are always lots of good books to read. It can be challenging sometimes to keep the main thing the main thing and to maintain that rhythm from season to season. Distractions can be…well, very distracting. It’s good to have all the very worst distractions over with, at least for the foreseeable future.
It's also at this time of year, especially, that I rue my advancing age. I agree with those of you who will say, without equivocation, that 62 is not old. However, 62 and riddled with arthritis, and with heart disease thrown in along with a side of diabetes makes me a tad too old or maybe ‘challenged’ to do the things my inner self hungers to do. We’re into the meat of autumn now. I should be making pickles and jams, freezing the produce out of the gardens, and generally, getting my “den” ready for the winter to come. The fact that I feel these instinctive urges so keenly this year, more than any in recent memory in fact, tells me we might indeed be in for what the old folks used to call one humdinger of a winter.
I miss gardening, and believe it or not, I even miss those times when I would don my winter gear and go out and shovel snow off the walkway. I think it’s that whole “self-sufficiency” thing that I really miss. I am at the point in my life where I can’t live the way I want to live all by myself. Not if I want to keep the main thing being the main thing.
What is the main thing? For me, right now, it’s focusing on what really matters in life—relationships, community, and a sense that we are all a part of something much bigger than the sum of our parts.