Nor Custom Stale
19 October 2015
One joy of grandfatherhood is teaching your grandchildren about
your favorite things, thereby making the old new again, and
sometimes making aficionados in a new generation: riding a
bicycle, melting pennies with a propane torch, Thai yellow curry.
This, of course, gets harder as the kids gain experience along
with age. I suspect the grandson in Marine boot camp will soon
outgrow my finite capacity to supply novelty.
02 September 2015
September comes, as it will. My grandchildren return to school,
the last wood thrush has sung. I’ve executed a decent
Bromley-LaPierre maneuver, allowing me to segue with grace into
the new season. Heralded by the katydids of August, my old autumn
friends arrive—jewelweed, all the asters, the multifarious
goldenrods. They’re welcome, but our friendship easily
survives their absence for a year, indeed thrives on it.
01 June 2015
June introduces itself with a sparse fitful pinpoint drizzle out
of the northeast, the usual source of our nastiest weather. But
the unirrigated grass at the soccer field’s margin no longer
crunches like shredded wheat underfoot. Clover abounds, my
favorite milieu for youthful catch-and-release honeybee hunting.
Making my day, a red-shouldered hawk screams by just above the
treetops, vengeful peasants in hot pursuit.
21 April 2015
Wakefulness at 4:00 A.M. usually brings me foreboding; it is
indeed the darkest hour. Today, though, it’s a paroxysmal
lung-everting cough. After an hour I still can’t divine the
romance in dying of consumption. Instead I hear thunder and
frenzied wind chimes. Jackbooted mice race over my roof and onto
my neighbor’s: the quick burst of a passing front’s
first fat raindrops. Sometimes a deluge follows. Not tonight.
19 April 2015
So little does it take to mitigate the horrors of IRS Form 1040, a
spider in the mailbox, or repeatedly snagging pinkie toe on errant
elastic while slithering one’s foot into a recalcitrant
sock: Cheryl’s swift soft peck on the temple as I type at
the computer, Bach’s Ascension Oratorio with the
volume at 11, spring’s first dandelion. Anticipating
spring’s first dandelion. Remembering last spring’s
09 April 2015
Redwings have long since broken February’s austere stillness
and men in tights prowl the roads on thin bicycles, but we still
have winter foliage: stands of bleached-out beeches, the
occasional raggedy brown oak leaf, and buds not yet quickening.
Part of spring’s considerable charm is knowing what’s
ahead, but not when or in what order. They’re not here yet,
but they will come—for me, the first peeper makes it real.
04 April 2015
Even discounting the unfounded human propensity to believe things
always turn out for the best, I can’t regret a failed first
marriage that was an essential precursor to life as I now know it.
During yeoman service as a horrible example that marriage
didn’t lack high points: I owe thanks to my first wife for
introducing me to capers, German wine, and for browbeating me into
attending an exhibit of Rembrandt’s prints.
03 April 2015
I’m ransacking the cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator. They
disgorge olive oil. Salt, ginger, peppercorns, paprika. Onions and
sherry. Measuring cup and spoons. Liver, garlic, and eggs. Bowed
cutting board, concavity down so it won’t slip. Knife,
grinder, bowl. Gathering tools and materials and arranging them
optimally center me for making the Seder’s chopped liver:
crucial minutes but never acknowledged in recipes.
27 February 2015
This year my grandson turns eighteen, my granddaughters turn
sixteen, and today I turn sixty-five. At the corner pizzeria a
lunch of kale soup and cabernet; I won’t mention the fried
banana rings. This evening Cheryl and I gorge on
Nebraska—twice now—understated, masterfully
paced, cast, and acted. A quarter century ago I hadn’t the
wit to conceive of gifts like these, let alone of living long
enough to receive them.