We have been hit with a snowstorm here in Massachusetts that is unprecedented. October 29. Way too soon for snow, and I didn’t really believe the predictions of 5-6” that ended up actually being 12″. I also had no idea what kind of damage wet heavy snow at this time of year could do. It started late afternoon on Saturday. I went outside three times to shake the snow off my beautiful lilacs with hopes that it would stop soon. Later that night, I was going to sleep to flickering lights and the sound of limbs cracking….truly an awful sound. I felt like I was in some kind of science fiction movie, heart pounding to the sequence of unfamiliar sounds. The power went out just after midnight and then the flashes of ‘lightning’ started, brilliant flashes of all encompassing light punctuating the eerie grayish light of the motionless night outside. I finally fell asleep, exhausted by the vigil, snow still coming down hard, surrendering to whatever was happening…
I wake to brilliantly clear skies and cold. The sun is just coming up and I step out to take in the beauty of the moment. The gold of the sun coming through thickly crusted branches of white, the gold at the tops of the trees where the sun is hitting them now,
the gold of the leaves still holding court on branches that haven’t let them go yet. Everywhere I look branches and whole trunks of young trees have been beaten down by the snow and I wonder at the resiliency and just how much bending and accommodating can happen before there is no ability to bend back….
It is a particularly cathartic day. No power and no heat and no internet. Luckily
my range has gas burners fueled by propane so I can cook!! And it will be something hearty, something that will fill the house with its smell and hopefully fill the space of the
missing heat. So to honor ‘heartiness’, I pull the heavy cast iron pot off the rack, chop up lots of garlic (3 very large cloves), scrub the skins of three med-large Yukon Gold potatoes and open a can of Italian plum tomatoes. I cover the bottom to the pot with olive oil and put the garlic in. Quickly chop about a cup & a half of tomatoes and add to the garlic with some of the juice too. Squeeze in the half lemon sitting on the counter and add the half bag of frozen artichoke quarters in the freezer. Add salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper to taste. While this is all heating up together I chop the potatoes into large chunks. Find a half can of leftover garbanzo beans in the fridge and add them the potatoes and a splash of water to the pot. Lid on, and simmer until the potatoes are soft but still firm to the bite. While we are waiting, Ben and I sit in front of the fire and he is telling me one of his ‘plays’. Typically based on old Barney episodes, he has evolved these stories to a mythical level that always involve people he loves and some form of magic. He is pointing to the fireplace now and referring to ‘crystal gold’. I stop him and ask, “You mean the fire? That is what you call crystal gold?” He says “yes, and then the fire isn’t there and it is crystal gold like colors in the sky”, while using a swirling motion with his hand to indicate the kind of fairy dust sparkle that appears when some form of transformation is about to happen. I am captivated by the feeling evoked by ‘crystal gold’…and realize that it is there in all the pictures I have just taken! In the absence of the heat of the sun (of the fire) what is there instead is the golden glow of colors still present in the leaves on the trees reflected off the icy snow in morning sun!!
My son, the prophet. I love moments like this when the ‘sense’ often makes no sense at all. Or in this case, when the ‘non sense’ makes perfect sense!
The stew is done. I fill two plates with fresh spinach and heap generous amounts of piping hot stew on top. By the time we sit down to eat, the stew is just warm and the spinach half cooked and soft. The whole house smells like garlic and tomatoes and the heat of something warm to eat…my version of making ‘crystal gold’ today…