This is a snowless, sunny Christmas eve, with the trees bare. Red winterberry peek through the liched-laden branches, though, and sky is a mix of soft grey and blue. Days like this in Cape Cod make me glad for my pockets of warmth. On my coat, certainly, for as Coco Channel said, women need pockets, and female clothing hardly included them. My pockets are also the tiny shops I frequent, for chocolate, for coffee, for a sandwich, and a pastry. They are scattered throughout the Outer Cape, run by genius chefs and hosts, who remember my name, even if I generally don’t remember theirs. They are like gems in a place that frankly favors fish, and why should it not, being on the coast, a handmade island, but an island hard for a vegetarian to accommodate herself. Unlike Santa Cruz CA, the chai does not flow on tap, as a friend once put it, but it is starting to trickle in, the kind that is strictly made with cardamom, and not pumpkin-flavors.
The December holidays though, make me nostalgic for date-nut bread spread with cream cheese. I can’t find them at the supermarket, and apparently, neither can anyone else who hankers for a taste of 1970’s packaged, seasonal, sweets. Thomas, of the muffin fame, made them, but I don’t remember that. And the internet tells me it wasn’t enough to spread (not, note, “slather,” a lovely if trendy term I see everywhere suggesting to me, at least, English countrysides and lots of money, and not the gas-lines in suburban New York ) a slice with cream cheese; true authenticity demanded an another slice on top, a date-nut bread sandwich. Again, intriguing, but not my experience. I just remember moist, nearly black bread. Maybe the cream cheese wasn’t the silver foil-covered block, but the then new container of whipped.
It’s nearly 40 degrees farenheit, and the sun is out. It must be snowing somewhere.
So where’s it snowing? Right here, right now. Go ahead, slather away!
Two months ago, I attended a Symposium on South Asian Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard. These images are from an illustrated manuscript from Bundi, Rajasthan, c. 1660-80. My photography is imperfect, not always capturing the full image, as I wondered, too, about the rationality of capturing an image in an image.
The vibrant reds, the brilliant blues. The pink, the orange, and yellow. I wandered, hungry for color, and conversation on image. It was a gorgeous, mind-blowing experience, which I can say without fear of sounding foolish because I am not part of the art world! I heard learned scholars speaking mostly in a language I understood. I was in delight because most of these scholars were South Asian, a rare ( for me) intellectual majority here in Boston, geographically associated with my birth country. I was the voyeur, interlocutor, taking notes, and dreaming of changing my major at fifty-seven.
A few weeks ago, I toured Agra with an old friend, and a photographer-guide, seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time. The best photos must be credited to our guide, Bobby.
I am able to do all this not only because I am not teaching this semester, but because I am realizing self-care is not just about pedicures and spas. I find I am a happy student, delving into sight and sound, exhulting in art history, visual imagery, and buying books. Years of reading fiction make me crave history books, though of course the word itself contains “story.” Back home, the sky is winter grey. November thankfully passes into December. I am nearly over jet-lag. Now a cat wants feeding, and the horses are brilliant in their still beauty through the window; a super moon on its way. I see it at dawn, revealing its silver, and ducking into the clouds. This too is a story. I missed American Thanksgiving, but I know how lucky all this life is.
This post keeps appearing and disappearing. I ought to edit, but instead, I’ll launch it again, this balloon full of hot air, and see if it will fly.
Cake? It is what I ate before attending the first lecture at the symposium.