Today, autumn…when fresh coffee takes the chill off like a warm shower, when the few remaining birds quietly wait out the fog, when it’s still until afternoon rain. It’s a day for biscuits and honey, tilapia and greens, angus tips and red wine. Books will come off the shelves in numbers all day today when autumn rests between meals, when the bedding is a blanket that finds its way to the couch, when socks are the only shoes. And should I have forgotten the sound of ocean waves through the inland pines up the hill…autumn.
I can still see my mother kneading bread on the white floured counter, a kind of meditation – hers and now mine in memory of it. I remember she hummed as I sat by the counter on a tall stool asking questions she never tired of answering. We would test every packet of yeast with sugar and warm water. As the morning progressed, her hands began tossing more flour onto the counter, then kneading some more – ridding the dough of air bubbles. Then after the dough rose in a bowl, she would punch it down twenty times and allow it to rise again. Ultimately, she would shape the loaves, tucking under, tucking under, pinching beneath and settling her bundles into the butter greased bread pans to rise one final time. Once they had risen, the tops would be sliced in three places at an angle then buttered before baking. These loaves would be gifts for the neighbors along our street for the holidays. They were always wrapped with plastic wrap and tied with a red bow along with date nut bread or cranberry-orange bread. And she would deliver them herself when I was at school where I never learned as much about life and giving love as I did in my mother’s kitchen.
If I’m going out, I stop to listen to the radio if it’s playing that one song. The one I listen to every day since his transfer after love filled this apartment for two years – staying just long enough to leave behind a love song and a one-way plane ticket to Alberta where he waits in a city foreign to us. I gather boxes – folding dreams of babies into the remaining bed sheets. He whispers across a hemisphere at night. I whisper, too, until we don’t make sense we’re so tired. After I love you, he tells me to come home soon. After I love you, I ask him to describe home to me again.
A young boy named Bucky stood beside a cardboard box in front of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store way back in ’76, and gave me my choice of which six week old Weimaraner puppy I wanted free. That was the day I fell for Henry who fell deeply in love with my shoelaces. It was kismet! I taught him to sit and lie down. He was honestly perplexed as these were things he was already doing, but Henry went along for the ride as love is a mysterious thing especially when fresh pieces of cooked bacon are involved. Someone wisely told me once, “Loving a dog will break your heart every time.” Actually, I believe it was Henry who said that. If he had ever asked for the moon, how I would have stolen it!