Black Hole

Last night I took my walk after dark. We emerged from our Thanksgiving cocoon of turkey and television, husband and I, into a night still warm from an Indian summer that had lasted far into autumn. The pavement was damp but no drops stood on our windshield. Less a light rain than a heavy fog, now gone, had passed over us while we, unaware, had dolloped whipped cream and sipped hot Turkish tea.

I stood on the sidewalk, momentarily alone. I looked across to a neighbor, and immediately all her lights snapped off. We walked the empty streets. It’s late November, he murmured to me, his tone low, in keeping with the softness of the evening air.

After a while, I turned to him. That’s the third house that’s gone dark when I passed. He looked up at the nearest street light. It had dimmed at our approach and was now completely spent. Halfway down the block, he turned to look back and chuckled in surprise. I turn around. The light was full bright.

We finish our walk. We cross two women walking a dog. At our porch, I hesitate, one foot on the bottom step.

Under the blind of the next door neighbor, the blue light of a television flickers.


This weekend son the elder had a guest over. Hearing a fearsome noise, I traced the sound to his bedroom. I opened the door to find both boys, musical instruments in hand, in full-throated form.

Son the elder was dressed in a bright green down vest (borrowed for the occasion) and yellow tinted granny glasses. Long hair flying, he had his (new) violin tucked under his chin.

His friend was playing the guitar. His back to me, he took longer to notice my arrival.

There was something in how son the elder looked at me. Violin still in place, bow resting on the strings, he grinned at me.

It was a smile of pleasure and a smile of one caught in the act of cutting loose. And it was, in its own way, a knowing smile. A smile of recognition, a smile of complicity.

I backed out of the room, closing the door gently behind me. I headed down the stairs, a little surprised by what I’d learned about my son, and very grateful for him and for the friend who’d brought out this little known side of him, this part of him that is joyous and is free.

Pears and Cardamon

I’ve spread the dining table with the Thanksgiving tablecloth, orange and maroon turkeys on a black background. Last night we had roast chicken and afterward, while the children and their guest cleared the dishes and set the table with rummikub, I sliced pears, ripe but firm, and cut butter into oatmeal.

After husband had won the the game and the children had thundered upstairs, I made a pot of strong tea and brought in the crisp, studded with small points of cardamon. Together we watched “Bad Education” by Almodovar.

I watched the beginning twice, so struck was I by the opening credits. “Woman on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown” too had striking credits. The final credit in the opening sequence is on an image of women printed in Technicolor – the camera pulls back to reveal the wall on which the image hangs, the room in which the wall stands, the dwelling of which the wall is a part.

Everything is part of a whole.

Fall Lingers Late in the South

The weather report says that a cold front is coming. But today is t shirt weather. Wash your car weather.

Driving to Starbucks, my reward before the work, I listen to the radio. A flute quartet by Mozart.

The trees have all turned. Yellow leaves against a bright blue sky.

The clouds are fluffy, like the whipped cream on my coffee.

This afternoon everything floats.

We are the Bridge between Past and Future

This weekend I went to see a play, Las Nuevas Tamaleras, a funny and touching story of three friends and cousins who set out to make tamales — and create a link to past generations of women. From the great-grandmother who spoke only Spanish and who had known only one man, one who had not treated her kindly, to the great-granddaughter, who moves easily between two languages and finds happiness with her husband, we see more than the exchange of recipes, more than a discussion over whether to spice the masa, the cornmeal paste that holds the meat filling.

We see both the hard work and the deep satisfaction of preparing that which sustains.

In November the Skies Turn Gray

I went for my walk late today. Along the way, I found a neighbor had planted flowers along the edges of his ditch. Blue daze, lamb’s ear, and varigated lariope. If I were to put my nose to the pink and white dianthus, they would smell like clove.

On the way home, it began to rain. The drops fall softly on my face and hair.

Rhythm in the Air

Yesterday I was late in picking up my son. When I got to the school, the playground was nearly empty. I saw him at once. He waved at me but continued to swing. Leaning back, his feet strain for the sky. When the swing begins its backward descent, he drops his head forward, his hair a curtain over his knees.

Just as I begin to lose patience, he makes a flying leap from his perch at its apogee. His legs pump air for a moment, then break his fall in the soft mulch. He rolls neatly onto his side and climbs quickly to his feet. He brushes his clothes and hoists his backpack to his shoulder.

As he comes toward me, the sunlight of the late fall afternoon catches in his hair.

The World Begins and Stops at the Edge of My Bed

We are enjoying a glorious Indian summer, with warm afternoons, blue skies, and turning leaves.

But mornings there is a slight chill in the air – just enough to warrant a blanket for sleeping. I wake early – a side benefit of the switch in daylight savings. The cat hears me get up and scratches at the door.

Husband stirs and I slip back under the covers to nuzzle. In the room above our heads, steps of son the younger. They move down the stairs, and into our bed. He too slips under the covers. I pull the blanket up over his shoulder and rest my hand on it.

Husband strokes my ear with his nose. The cat joins us on the bed, settling in the space between my son’s back and my belly. He lies across my arm, a warm weight.

The breathing of son, husband, and cat slows. Husband’s fingers twitch within my palm, then lie heavy.

In the sound of their respiration, I feel the universe expand, then contract.