Writing has taken a back seat in the last month.  In fact, I’ve not even bothered to post a blog.  Uncertain of where my mind lingered, I decided to take a break.  The angst over an ill loved one, the return of a loved one, life in a cold spring, and certain uncertainties kept my hands idle, but my mind spinning.  Easter whirled in and out with the bustle of cleaning, cooking, and a house full for dinner.  Instead of drawing from the angst of life, I chose to shutdown.  Rather than gather my delights and celebrate them, I tucked them away for safekeeping. So here I am today, more than half way through the month of daffodils, musky earth smells and the song of robins finding my way back. 

 

“It’s not the world’s fault you want to be an artist…now get back to work.”

                                          –Elizabeth Gilbert paraphrasing Werner Herzog

I attended a pizza party/game night at my brother’s home one Saturday evening.  The attendees were two brothers, one sister, two sisters-in-law, and one brother-in-law.  MIA was a sister who lives in Montana and a sick brother nursing a sore throat and a cough.  We each brought our favorite toppings and libation of choice. 

I’m a plain Jane sort of eater, preferring food that doesn’t make me weep, gag, or gasp in pain.  My favorite pizza sports a topping of mushrooms and loads of cheese.  It’s not that I won’t eat a deluxe or supreme pizza, I will, but I’m a purist at heart. 

The two brothers in attendance have a penchant for anchovies swimming in pizza sauce.  I have to admit, until that cold night in February, I’d protected my olfactory and tastebuds from the love ’em or hate ’em fishlets.  Soon enough I’d put another tried-that-notch on the belt of my culinary life.

After a ball of yeasty dough landed in the middle of a pizza pan, I bragged about my pizza making skills while adroitly patting out a perfectly formed, pinched edge crust.  Meanwhile, my youngest brother pushed his dough around the pan willing it to stretch to the edge.  Being the first to finish, I had time to peer into the jar that held tiny strips of fish flesh floating in oil. 

With a twist, the small jar was open.  I picked it up and took a whiff of the contents.  The smell was similar to sardines, which I enjoy once in awhile on a Town House cracker.  I’m thinking…this isn’t so bad, I might even like anchovies on pizza.

Dough kissing sides of the pan, sauce slathered on the raw dough…it was now time for the salty suckers to come out of the jar. 

P's dipping into the anchovy jar

P dipping into the anchovy jar

I watched as sliver after sliver dropped from P’s oily fingers onto the pizza, a gleam of anticipation lighting his eyes and a smug smile twitching at the corner of his mouth.  

The mind works in mysterious ways and I wondered who the heck has the patience to wield a fillet knife that small and how long it must take to fillet the weensie fish.

My basic mushroom pizza loaded with mozzarella, parmesan, and asiago cheese was the first out of the oven.  The simple, yet delicious flavors played on my tongue in a muted lullaby of savory flavors that delighted my tastebuds.  I was happy…satisfied…smiling.

Anchovies swimming in sauce

Anchovies swimming in sauce

A pie or two later, the anchovy pizza rested on the counter waiting to be sampled or devoured, depending on who was eating it.  My brother-in-law slapped a slice on his plate unbeknownst to him that beneath bubbling cheese lurked a lurid flavor surprise.  He took a forkful and immediately stopped chewing.  I can’t recall his exact words, but it went something like this, “OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS IN THIS THING?”  He was about to throw the plate in the trash when I stopped him.  I figured, what the heck we’re all family, I’ll take a bite off his slice.  I may not like tons of spice, but I’m always fair game to try something new.  My children know all about taster bites and it was time I tried anchovy pizza. 

I sliced off a bite from the triangle piece.  I hate to admit this, but I’m a sniffer.  I’ve been known to sniff food before allowing it to enter my mouth.  I know… it’s a disgusting habit.  With trepidation I took a sniff, still ok.  Before the cheese dripped cheese, I quickly pulled the bite from the fork. 

First chew…mmmm, tastes pretty good.  Second chew…I can do this.  Third chew…my jaw never made it full bite.  The gob of pizza sat on my tongue, while salty, oil trickled down my throat, and my tastebuds screamed protesting the strong, fishy fish taste. 

My mind panicked.  What do I do?  Spit it out?  Swallow?  Mother of Dominoes, Little Caesar, and Pizza Hut!  This is not just bad, it’s foul.  Across the way my brother savors each morsel saying, “It’s an explosion of flavor…”  I’m thinking where to run before an explosion occurs out my mouth.   Finally, I take one humongo gulp and the fishy pizza slides down the gullet leaving behind a greasy trail.  My face screws up, my tongue waggles inside my mouth and I grab an Amstel to put the taste to rest for good.    

Both brothers relished the anchovy pizza that night, but they were the only ones.  I am in awe of their refined tastes or are they just vulgar enough to eat any ole anything?  The two of them lurk somewhere between the two extremes, where all fascinating folks do, with my admiration.  They do something I cannot…eat anchovies. 

I learned something that night.  I learned I don’t  like anchovies on my pizza and I will never eat an anchovy laden pizza again.  I’ll stick with my purist pizza attitude and leave the formidable taste of anchovies to the connoisseurs…my brothers.

Permission to use Gestation's Child given by Alan Budney. If you love this photo and want to use it in some way, please contact Mr. Budney.

Permission to use Gestation's Child given by Alan Budney. If you love this photo and want to use it in some way, please contact Mr. Budney.

 

One Saturday morning as snow whorled in crazy patterns a quiet, reflective atomsphere permeated through the home I share with my grandson and daughter.  The house became divided into territories of each person’s own making.  The farmhouse table became a place to ponder the past with each turn of the page; a battle of epic proportions between chivalrous champions and malevolent villains played out on the coffee table, while I read the November issue of The Sun.

 

The Sun, a literary magazine, compels readers to dig for inspiration, compassion and a grain of sun-lit truth in its articles.  After reading an issue from cover to cover I ponder my own story ideas and a submission possibility. 

  

I put the magazine down and jumped into a hot shower, one of the best places for inspiration. As I stood in the swirling fog of liquid heat a photograph taken by a friend, Alan Budney, entitled Gestation’s Grandchild came into focus.  It suddenly came to me that Alan unwittingly captured a moment in my life.  The clear pink of the photo reminded me of my ex-husband’s aunt.  She grew a rose along side the house with tender petals and tight buds that bloomed in the truest color of pink I’ve ever seen.

 

My daughter, the only granddaughter on my ex-husband’s side of the family was a cherished creature.  Her birth brought something new, not just to her daddy and me, but also to his entire family.  She was a bundle of pink perfection to my in-laws.  Her every move and breath became a source of wonder to my mother-in-law and her sister, Aunt Helen.  She was Princess Aurora with doting fairy godmothers peering over the edge of the cradle, each one fussing with the whisper-soft blanket, caressing the blonde fuzz that haloed her head, and lightly touching her hand in hopes that a finger might be grasped. 

Aunt Helen, very much like a fairy godmother, small, but loaded with wit announced that she renamed the rose for the pink bundle of life.  The rose, so perfectly clear, so true to the color pink was like the wee one’s complexion…pink perfection. 

 

The pink perfection of an infant grew, maneuvering rites of passage with laughter and sometimes angst.  She continues blossoming with a faint touch of pink still gracing her cheeks.  Dear Aunt Helen faded into herself and passed from this world in November. 

  

Every time I see Alan’s photograph I am reminded of that moment in time when the sun smiled often and a warm breeze softened days.  Within one glorious photo lies life with the potential of a tight bud opening into an elegant blossom that eventually fades dropping petals to a waiting earth.  And so goes the cycle. 

I’ve yet to submit a story to The Sun, but I’m getting closer every day.   

 

*Please take a moment to look at Alan’s photography.  I’m sure you’ll find it hauntingly beautiful and visually sensual, as I do. 

 

You can read more about Alan’s photography here.