Sunday, December 05, 2010

New Oil

Another year has come and vanished. Another harvest. And the new oil is now here. New oil, showing us the promise of the harvest in its sharpest, youngest, most fiery expression. Lovely stuff, as long as you just taste a little bit. Not too much.

So much of what is important to us is fleeting. New ricotta. Soft, delicate, sweet. Tomorrow it can be lifeless cardboard. But today, with a little of the new oil, some salt and a cracker or a piece of hard bread, there is nothing like it. You can have all the BBQ in Texas, all the taco trucks in Austin, all the wood fired pizza in Italy. Just give me some fresh ricotta to go with the new oil and I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

A family gathering; my blended family. My sister-in-law’s home. Sister to my wife Liz, who passed away almost ten years now. After what we went through, there are still evenings to gather and sit together, a platter of warm turkey and memories that will never get cold.

And what about those memories? Those images, left behind, a fragment of a life, a spirit, an emotion? What drawer do these find themselves in? Those lives that were lived and now 10-50-100 years later, only the sepia image remains, taped to the mirror as a photographer roams about a room looking for more pictures to make? I am truly mystified by those spirits whose lives were as important to them as ours are to us. But now they are gone. Some day we will be too. Sooner than we think. But we don’t want to think about it. No, we go back in time, to places where our memories are sweeter than the ripest fruit hanging from the tree.

The recipe that was never given. Because she was always cooking it up for us. Now she is gone. And we look for someone else who will give us pumpkin pie like our aunt Amelia did all those years. We seek in the future something to comfort us from our past. All the while we race into a prospect in which we will be only an image on a photograph, a memory in someone’s mind. We are rushing to become another missing recipe.

The wine, saved for the special moment. For years, locked in a closet. Kept calm. Kept cool. Kept out of the light. Saving it, past the years, calendars stacking up, higher and higher. And then one night, we open it up, remove the cork. Maybe decant it. Saving that funny little wine from Southern Italy or Hungary or the Northern Rhone or Piedmont. And just like that, the decanter is emptied, and we are looking around for another bottle. And life. And waiting on the new oil.

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