breaking for spring

Morning walk at Olbrich Gardens

Trees are in bud; daffodils are blooming as I turn around; I dug up the purple crocus that were finished on Thursday.  I’ll dig the yellow ones today.  When I civilized my wild, overgrown garden back in Indy, I dug up scores of bulb plants as they finished their bloom determined to save and replant.  I did not let the greens develop as is advised because if I had I would have forgotten what they were and colors.  Rows of bulbs with greens attached dried in the sun until the greens were browns and the bulbs were stored for fall planting.  I need to do the same process with the bulbs on the terrace gardens.  The purple crocus was a beginning.  As the daffodils and tulips come up, and with only those plants coming up on the terrace beds, I can appreciate how many there are.  All representing my work and love.  Taking apart these beds as been full of so much sadness and pain; this spring there is room of appreciation and a bit of joy.

And so, I have a plan.

The only garden beds that I can see from my bedroom are those terrace beds.  The late fall and winter (sans snow) has been brown, pitted, muddy.  My heart has been so much lighter as the bulb plants have begun to come up.  Grass is not going to do much for a lightened heart for me.  I am not changing my mind about the grass but early spring without some color is too much to bear.  What came to mine was a bed of pure, deep blue.  Scilla!  I’ll be fall planting many, many tiny bulbs and next spring!  And the next!  And the next!

Monet had the most spectacular view from his bedroom windows at Giverny.  Standing in his bedroom window and looking out at his summer garden inspired.  The views from bedroom windows in old suburban neighborhoods with small lots are not necessarily prone to the specular; but, the bright yellow green of budding trees and the pure deep blue of scilla next spring may carry a bit of spectacular of their own.

We have had a week of home for spring break  and there has not been one day where I have not whined about it, most of the time to myself or sympathetic friends, for at least a few minutes.  I wanted to go somewhere!  Especially when friends from everywhere posted FaceBook travel photos.  But now with just one more spring break day, I begrudgingly admit to the wisdom of staying in place.  It has been another week to heal my hand. Julia did math, science and reading every day, we worked hard to get ready for her cello audition.  She is making a new dragon puppet and we are half way through a puzzle.

Last night, we went to our Unitarian Passover Seder.  I miss the at home Seders that David and I used to host — irreverent and edgy.  It was my favorite holiday celebration.  We cooked extravagantly; David wrote/adapted many a Hagadah; Cheshire and other young people played music and read stories.  Such memories cannot be eclipsed by what we do at FUS but Julia and I have gone almost every year since David died.  For sure, this community gathering, probably more than any other single event, has served to heal the deep crevice in my heart.  It is no more perfect than what we used to do at home.  Just different.  We have gotten comfortable celebrating with some of the same people every year and it is not difficult to find a table and warm conversation.  Umm, if I could remember who I sat with that first Passover after David died, I would apologize for being a rather rough dinner companion that year.  And Julia gets to read at least one, last night two, of the questions, and is so proud to do it.  For a few years, I imagined that one day, even next year, I would do something at home but year after year, something seems to come up.  This year, my wrist.  And perhaps that is as it should be.  At least, until it is the right year to host at home.  Then again, if I had as seder at home, would I still go to our FUS one?  How could I not?

This morning Julia and I made Matzo Brie.  A weekend matzo brie brunch was as much a part of our old Passovers as our Seders.  David made it.  I admit that I never even watched him do it.  It was his dish and although I’ve tried to replicate it a few times, I did not do a great job.  For some reason, I never thought of looking for a recipe.  Surely, such a dish is just passed on, not copied down.  But yesterday morning, I opened the NYTimes cooking newsletter in my email box and there it was.  I have been deleting without opening those missives for the last few weeks.  I could not bear to look at what I could not do.  I could not even bear to save for future use.  Yesterday, I could.

The recipe was easy.  Nothing I couldn’t do.  And also, nothing that Julia couldn’t do.  And so, she did.  I supervised.  Julia is not ready to do anything like this alone but give us a year of practicing easy recipes and she may be cooking for us one in a while.

Interesting to note although not at all unusual, the NYTimes recipe gathered many comments, adding to the printed recipe, proclaiming their own much better amendments, correcting spelling, complaining about ingredients and amounts, and declaring theirs to be a more authentic recipe.  One comment contained a link to a blog article Gourmet Hand Matzo Brei: Sweet & Savory with Caramelized Onions, Truffle and Honey.  This I will be checking out again!

The author wrote:

In the past, matzo brei was the one dish every average American Jewish male knew how to make. It’s a moment of breakfast glory for many Jewish fathers.

That made me smile.  I didn’t know that to be true.  It was surely true at our house. And I’ve never thought of making savory Matzo Brei. We were a sweet matzo brie with strawberry jelly for a Passover brunch family.  Time for truffle oil, onions, schmatlz, mushrooms and maybe hand made matzoh.

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