The house is silent. It’s grey and raining, thank the lord. I have a quiet day to count my blessings and recover from yesterday’s celebrations.
As predicted, Sam cooked an extraordinary meal. I picked mint and basil and he made hors d’oeuvres – prosciutto rolled with mozzarella and mint, tomatoes with mozzarella and basil. He made a salad of quinoa and peppers grilled on the barbie and he grilled pears, zucchini, and carrots with the tops on, all divinely tender and sweet. He caramelized onions for the steak and made a platter of grilled mushrooms in balsamic and wine. And then the meat – marinated chicken, pork shish kebabs, huge steaks, and trout on a plank. (Oh, and while he did that, he made an Instagram Story video about the process and posted it.)
In case that weren’t enough food, Anna brought her famous leek and bacon dip and an eggplant dip from a Middle Eastern market. And at the end there was double chocolate fudge cake with Pol Roger champagne and a topping: Happy 70th Birthday Ma. Sam said they had trouble with that – don’t you want to say Mom or Mum? No, he said. MA.
Incroyable. We were supposed to be eleven but two didn’t make it, so all that food for nine adults and two children. Somehow we made a hefty dent.
Tried to distance but it was hard, and I did hug everyone with my face averted. Couldn’t not hug. We all sat on the deck and then had two tables in the garden for the meal. The boys disappeared periodically to the end of the garden and later played Sorry with Uncle Sam and did puzzles – and of course, had screen time on various devices to give adults some peace. Even the weather cooperated – clouds emerged, just enough to block the heat and make the afternoon fresh and mild.
So lucky. Blessed. Blessing: when she was preparing the boys’ meals, Anna asked if I had cucumber since that’s the only vegetable Ben eats. I said, Sure, and went to the garden to pick one. Blessing: Anna brought paintings by the boys and an embroidered wall hanging she’d commissioned from an Indigenous craftswoman of Marilyn, my turquoise bicycle. Other welcome gifts: many e-cards and FB greetings and a call from Dustin, Sam’s good friend from high school – “Hi Ma!” More good wine, a plant from Cathy in Newfoundland, a journal from Lani in Ingersoll, a donation to Medicins Sans Frontieres from Ken: “In gratitude for the 70 years of Beth Kaplan.” LOL.
Blessing: telling a story about seeing a water snake at the cottage, and Ken and I together reciting the beginning and end of a favourite D. H. Lawrence poem: “A snake came to my water trough, and I in pyjamas for the heat, to drink there.”
Blessing: to sit with old friends who are like family for us all – Holly my other daughter; Ken, Anne-Marie and Jim, Monique – wonderful interesting people. And we thought of those not there: Wayson who wouldn’t miss a party, my parents who’d have relished every minute, far-flung loved ones.
Just read an article in the NYT about how great it is to get old – that though there are certainly problems of the body, the spirit is often stronger than ever before. And so it is. I have health, work, a home, and we have each other. We live in this peaceful country, in one of the great cities of the world, though both flawed, as Anna would be the first to point out. My new book details that I spent many young years confused about my path in life: what should I do? Who should I be?
I know the answers now. See below, plus new book coming out. (Holly took the picture at the end of the night; Ben hates having his picture taken so she paid him $5 cash to smile.)
Heart overflowing. Grateful. Onward.