Saturday, I woke to a message on my Internet asking if I had gotten anything in my mail. Well, over the last month or so I have received many wonderful things in my mail box, but I realized as I read the message that I had not left the house in at least 3 or was it 5 days, so I literally ran out of the house and up the road to the mailboxes. There on top of my mailbox was a box, and inside the mailbox itself were envelopes and magazines, catalogs and post cards. The mail box was full and I was so surprised and excited to see what was in the box, that I impatiently yanked the mail out of the mailbox. I held the armful to my chest as I ripped open the light plain brown box. Not remarkable in size, but the return address told me this was the answer to the inquiry on the computer. Inside the box, wrapped in green tissue was a cotton shawl as light as cotton candy, deep violet with red designs and writings. A tag identified it as made in Nepal and sold as part of the fair trade project. I wrapped it about me. The smells of incense from a college town hippie store clung to the shawl as soft as breath and lifted up to me. I opened another green tissue wrapped object. It was a rock. I love rocks. Engraved on its smooth cool service was the word healing. The rock was the color of cafe ole'. The last piece of green tissue gave up another rock, this one blue, gray with the word namaste engraved on it. Any gift is sweet and precious. But these very unexpected ones, like all the gifts I have received this year were perfect in that it really did speak to something important to me.
I wonder if my gifts were so perfect because people know more about me these days, or is it that I am accepting gifts with more appreciation these days? Probably like all things in the world, there is many sides to the answer. I do not think about the gifts I will receive or worry about that. I do not count to see who sent what. Instead I look at each gift and appreciate the person who with care, took a minute to give me a present. I danced down the privately unmaintained road home, clenching my rocks in my hands, my shawl floating around my shoulders and arms, an armful of mail. The last day of the year, a day already over flowing with joy.
Sioux and her grandson made it up from Ft. Myers after a long trip, but a different route and different sites to see. They showered me with wonderful presents, my favorite teas, a collectible tea pot, and such sweet thoughtful gifts. We got them settled in and then dressed and loaded in the toy, put the top down and headed into the big city, Tallahassee. We drove I-10 west, the air cool, but invigorating. The sun was heading towards the horizon and we drove towards it. We stopped at the super incredible fabulous giant new Publix and bought small plants and a bouquet of flowers to take to Baa to celebrate the New Year. I bought a miniature rose with sweet perfect petite roses the most lovely shade of violet. Even more blue purple then the Babyface rose. Reid bought Baa a healthy African violet covered with purple and white fuzzy faced flowers. Sioux chose a lovely bouquet of daisies and mums with ferns. Baa was honored and happy. I always hug on Baa and kiss her face many times quickly and it always makes her giggle like a young girl. This wise and sweet 86 year old woman who knows a different spoken language then I do. But we get along just fine. Geeta honored us back my massaging our hands with scented oil. Then Janak and Geeta translated my new purple and red shawl. They showed me the depiction of Shiva and the prayer made to him. He is part of the trilogy of the Hindu gods. The creator, the keeper and the destroyer. Shiva is the destroyer. But I feel safe in this shawl because of the sweet wonderful friend who sent me this gift.
We were able to spend a little time with Baa before we loaded back into the cars and drove over to our friend Genevieve's. Janak had never gotten to ride in the toy, so he and Reid and I followed Geeta and Sioux in our little caravan of two driving across town to Genevieve's.
The first full moon meditation that Geeta hosted at her home was Geeta, Marcia, Genevieve and me. So we have a special connection that made this time to spend together this last evening of the year even more memorable. The air was cooling as quickly as the dark was slipping in. The stars started peeping their little lights out at us as we drove in this silver toy I have. Genevieve lives in one of the funky little neighborhoods snuck in all over Tallahassee. Lots of duplex and homes that have been cut into multi-plexes nestled in among the trees and curves on a road as unmaintained as mine. Our sweet friends home was so welcoming with tiny tea candles sparklingGeeta and I each added to the load. We talked and laughed, sipped tea and cider and nibbled at this, a little of that. Friends were enjoyed and new ones made. Time slowed with the candlelight in the room, the smiles became softer and sweeter, the conversation lively. But as time passed we packed up the food and divided it up to head closer to our homes for the change of the year, the drop of the ball. Genevieve had wanted us all to do the Spanish tradition of 12 grapes.
We bundled up the boy and the three of us belted ourselves in the Toy and drove east along 27 home under a black dark sky speckled with a sprinkling of stars. The glow above our head reminiscent of the tea candles that had surrounded us with such a warm glow just moments earlier. But the temperatures dropped quickly and the wind, crisp and cold swirled into the car. We turned on the seat warmers and turned up the heater. We bundled the boy down amongst us to keep him warm. At home we had a toast and ate our grapes and then not waiting for the magical hour, I gave up and went to bed.
New Years Day and I woke excited about the cooking. I love the traditions of people, we laughed the night before as we ate each grape one at a time and ate them as fast as we could. Today I put my soaked black eyed peas on the fire and added a chicken sausage with a bite to it. Next came chopped onions, carrot and potato. A heavy sprinkling of salt and pepper, a few leaves of bay, some garlic and let the pot sit in a heavy simmer. After the peas are busy cooking then I make the cornbread muffins. Slip them into a 400 degree oven and wait for the edges to turn golden brown. Now it is time to quick cook the collards. I roughly chop half a mess of collards. Then into the skillet along with the olive oil, onions and chopped garlic I place giant handfuls of the chopped greens. I quick cook them, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper just until the greens are tender. The oven dings and I pull out the corn muffins and we plate our good luck. It only takes a mouthful of each to bring you plenty for the coming year. Plenty of love, plenty of joy, plenty of money, plenty of challenges, plenty of strength, plenty of food. A year full of plenty.
We took it slow and easy on the first day of the new year. We watched movies that we thought the boy would enjoy, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and the Prince of Persia, Sands of Time. But I have to tell you that Sioux and I seemed to enjoy the movies more then he did. Well, each of us are different and have different tastes.
As the sun started to sink below the tree tops and the sky turned from blue to the shades of the evening we loaded up again in the Toy, put the top down and headed to Belle Meade Farms. I had made a pecan praline gingerbread, and oh my, it was wonderful. I also made tepanade and dressed a bottle of wine as a hostess gift for Marcy and Fred. The drive over was beautiful and Sioux and I both kept saying what a gorgeous day it had been, and how nice the weather was.
The old two story farm house with a history shined. Welcoming lights and sounds of laughter bubbled out of the doors and windows as we walked up to the gate. They had invited their theater friends from TLT, FSU and Monticello. I am sure there were other theater people represented there, and there were the people on Fred's Senior Tennis Team. This team had the opportunity in October to go to California to the Senior Open, so these are serious tennis people. And very easy going, intelligent, fit beautiful people. When filling our plates with scoops from all the cover dishes, and trying to get the boy to eat "real" food instead of just drooling over the plates and plates of cupcakes, we chatted and laughed with the others in the room also filling plates. If I didn't recognize them, I would say, "You must be the tennis people." They would smile broadly and say, "Yes, we are." Then we would all laugh and talk about how nice to be at a party with lots of different people to get to spend time with. The theater people were just as fun and entertaining, if not more dramatic, but if you accused one of them as being a tennis person, they would quickly give you their name and a quick bio of the productions they had been in at which theater. That made me laugh so much. Everyone was generous and kind and friendly and interesting. But such a difference between the team spirit of the tennis players versus the individual recognition, then reference to their "teams" by the theater types. Everyone got comfortable with the mix and was getting to know each other when Fred announced it was time to light the bon fire.
Oh, excuse me, the fire for the wiener roast. We did not have any hot dogs or other food to cook on the "fire", and it was a frame of about 8 feet square and 25 feet tall filled with Christmas trees and yard debris, but yes, Fireman sir, it is a weeny roast. Uh-huh, good thing they did not step over from just down the road to check on us.
But I have to say, that Fred had prepared the area, and was heard to say that he had taken "Bon Fire Engineering at Texas A&M." All I know was that it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Fred grabbed a burning branch out of the fire in the pit and walked back to the location of the bon fire. He threw the log into the dry Christmas branches and the fire lit with a flare. In just minutes the fire had shot up past the 25 feet with flames going straight up. There was little smoke and the burning ash and cinders looked like fire works filling the sky with bright orange and red spots that flashed out far above our heads. It was a thing of beauty and we all stood there and oohed and aahed at Fred's handiwork.
Again, an early evening found us on our way home. This time we put the top up to keep from freezing out the boy in the back seat. We got home, Sioux and I toasted with a sip of the acorn liquor. It had been a good few days. A wonderful visit, and such a treat to have an eight year old boy to spoil and fuss over. He was a good boy, and bless his heart he was so well behaved at both parties. He was the only child each night, after all we are all old enough to have grandchildren of our own.
This morning Sioux and I put on yoga DVDs and pulled out mats and straps and blocks and started a new year's resolution to do yoga three times a week. We will email or text each other when we do our yoga to support the other to take even 10 minutes three days a week to stretch and give back to our bodies. We did not commit to do it all year. We just committed to try and see how it works out. It felt good to stretch and twist and invert and feel the blood flowing around our bodies. Then it was time for them to go.
They packed their things back in the car, hugs were shared all around, with Reid hating to leave Harry, they had bonded over these few days. Then they waved and were out the gate and down the road heading towards home, south of here. They will head to the warmth I dream of and I shall stay up here in the cold that they long for.
I took it easy all afternoon, just resting and kicking back. I did take time to cover the plants and wound Christmas lights near the most sensitive plants. It never got warm for me today, and the wind blew and winter came in for this new year. It will be cold for the next 36 hours, and some of it will be hard freezing. I am not prepared, but I am never prepared. I have enjoyed the Brazilian Flame Vine and although I have covered it with a sheet and lights, I would think there is a better chance that the temperatures will freeze this plant back. I will know how much I have lost within the next few days. I have a pot of black eye peas and may fix some hoppin John tomorrow. But today, just a nice bowl of peas and greens with a corn muffin. Food of my childhood, food of the people of the land I was born. Southern Food. A tradition, a superstition, nutritious and delicious.
It is 2012. I have plans for the next 3 weekends. I will leave on Thursday to start the Harry Potter Adventure and be home on Sunday. The following week I will enjoy the tri-weaving class, then the next weekend will be the greenhouse class. I am checking off the resolutions. Black eye peas and collard greens for New Year's day, check. Start an exercise program that is more gentle to my body, check. Learn something new, check, check. Laugh, live, love and dance, oh yes, check, check, check. Resolutions to guide me, not drive me. Plans to be kinder and gentler to myself, but still be me. It is just my nature to learn and experience and play. So far, this year is turning out pretty darn wonderful. Happy 2012 everyone.