Simple Goodness

heaven is a rhubarb crisp

If you had climbed the high fence that surrounded our back yard, and peeked over, you’d have noticed a garden. Tomato plants stood, tall and staked, ruby orbs shadowing the sunniest wall. Lazy bees slept in lavender bushes. A clump of chives grew in one corner of the plot. As children, we snipped the verdant tips to bring to the kitchen, a garnish for new potatoes. There was rhubarb, its crimson stalks ranging from rich, deep red to shy, speckled pink.

It is satisfying to pull something from the ground. We’d snip, our tiny fingers fumbling with scissors. We’d pick the fattest tomatoes from the vine and pluck the firmest stalks of rhubarb. A quick rinse and a slow dip into the sugar bowl, when our mother’s back was turned. Rhubarb was our garden candy: tart and sweet.

Rhubarb is an old fashioned slice of heaven- any time. Imagine my ‘Oh Joy’ moment when I opened the front door and saw the unexpected paper bag, a gift from a friend. Inside, was half a banana cake (vanilla iced), delicious chilled with a cup of dark roast coffee. She could spin this cake to gold. Tucked alongside the cake, three stalks of rhubarb, perfect for my second favourite dessert: crisp.

There are many reasons to bake: to nourish, create, perfect, and comfort. We bake to love: ourselves and others. When we bake something and offer a slice, we shrug, knowing to bake is a form of love. Crisp is simple. There is absolutely nothing fanciful about oats. I chop, bag and freeze the rhubarb for the perfect moment.

Today, this morning, is the moment I’ve waited for. Cloudy mornings and another day of COVID19 isolation, feel ‘lighter’ with a plate of warm crisp. There is comfort, knowing the clouds will disappear and the oven holds promise.

Open the freezer. Rhubarb compliments dark berries and strawberries. Use whatever is on hand. Modify. There are better recipes than mine, on line. I ‘wing’ it, reducing the sugar content, eliminating cornstarch. If the finished product appears too runny, drain the excess juice. You won’t be disappointed. Add slightly more oats (for the heart), cut back the butter.

There isn’t a crisp I haven’t devoured, best served with a scoop of ice cream or a ring of fresh cream. Heaven! Acknowledge these times. Be still. Be grateful. Savour each bite.

BEWARE: Recently I read: Fresh rhubarb damaged by severe cold should not be eaten, as it may be high in oxalic acid which migrates from the leaves and can cause illness. Who knew?

~ bake barefoot, little thoughts, COVID19, keepitsimple, simplegoodness

Only

“Tell me,

What do you want?”

Shall I give you eyes to see?

Gentle moments that follow one another like pearls slipping off string.

The essence of crushed rose after dusty rain

Dusty oils

Honey served on a silver spoon?

Only rubbed back essentials, darling

Only your patina soul.

~Anna

It takes patience to procure the perfect cup of coffee beginning with the French beans to the water’s roll. Next, is the slow pour over and finally, the decisive press.

Take pleasure in the art. It’ s a ritual allowing time to be.

Rain hits the pavement. Leaves dance in the wind. Somewhere, in the distance, a door slams. A wind chime rustles. A baby cries.

I am still. Peace waits within sips of strong coffee.

The first taste is always too hot. The last, too cold. There is a moment between these two extremes, the sacred space of seeded memories, whispered prayers, the spot where lovers meet.

You say, “Come to me.”

We are in Paris. You take my hand and lead me to shelter, far from the storm.

The Art of Coffee In The Rain

draft

Meet me beneath the cloudless moon

On the path where the end begins

Make time stand still

Tell me again

all the beautiful and the terrible

Words carried by the wind

Forgive me as I turn, hands shaking

And cast off the dust of you

Arsenic, lead, silver, and bone

~Reduced

Draft

A paragraph from a scene titled, Do Right. The setting is a  fictional locale – Ardua Pier- where things happen

Truth lies in a dream.

 

The dull blast of a horn signaled a ship entering port. He listened as waves lapped against the pylons. The high-pitched sound of a woman’s laughter rang from the neighbouring sugar factory.  From a warehouse loft, somewhere high above the hillside, a violin’s music serenaded the stars.

Life is ever-changing, he thought, like the sea: calm and smooth, violent and rough. He yearned for a moment between struggle and triumph, a respite.

The hum of a car’s finely tuned engine interrupted his thoughts. He shivered and turned. Shielding his eyes from the glare of headlights, he watched as Rummy’s Cadillac inched closer to the bridge on the pier.

~ draft scene

Early morning sunlight crept in through the open window and kissed her on the shoulder.

He watched her sleep. Studied each soft inhale and exhale of  breath, traced a lock  of hair across the pillowcase.  The hair she refused to cut. Her signature, a self-styled rebellion against time and fashion mores.

Light crept across the bed, unveiling her face in real- time. She was his June with December’s eyes. He touched the scar beneath her chin and counted each freckle, long faded.

Time had caught him by surprise; he’d not seen himself growing older. Certainly, he had not seen her coming. It wasn’t supposed to play out this way. Now all he wanted  was to absorb her into oblivion.

Life could be a lonely act. How fast it goes. As seasons changed, he’d buried his father, then his mother, and cheated on his wives. Like the tease of spring, she  had tip- toed into his life, the odds stacked against her.

He’d warned. ” I carry a full bag.”

“Unpack,” she said.

Their future was uncertain. He knew this truth: she was hard to crush.

 

 

 

A View From A Window

dropping into another scene~

 

Roy’s arms reached for her and he whispered to no one. They existed in two worlds. A pane of glass separated him from his reality and Ella. A Sarah Vaughn song lulled his thoughts: ‘Lover Man.’

Meanwhile life went on. He knew this truth. The kids needed new shoes, Jacqueline nagged about a leaking tap, and the garage waited for paint.  

 

In a garden, thirteen blocks across town, Ella paused beside a rose-bush and turned. A gentle wind wrapped itself around her. She imagined a presence, felt a hand warm her waist. A low voice whispered into her ear, “Wish that you were here.” 

Ella turned, no one was there. She went back to her rose.

Across town, Roy rested his forehead against the glass. From outside he heard his daughters’ laughter.  He’d paint the garage for his father in law.

 

Thoughts rammed Roy’s mind. He leaned to rest his forehead  against the kitchen window. The glass cooled the fire that raged through his head.  Reality is here and now.

Reality was the girls’ laughter heard from beyond a sheer pane of glass. What about the children? Roy stood at the window and watched his daughters skip about the yard. Annie darted in and out from behind the weathered garage, her fist balled tight. Hidden within  was found treasure- a smooth stone, a feather, or some lost  bits of nature. Waving her fist, she teased Madeline, tempted her to join in a game of tag- winner take all. Of course, Madeline ignored the bait, choosing instead to pause and wonder at the creature she had discovered crawling along the bark of the cherry tree.

Earlier that morning, Jacqueline had asked, ” The old man wants to know. When are you painting the garage?”

“I’ll paint it on the first sunny day,” he had said.  And why does she always refer to her father as The Old Man?

Here it was. Full sun. The old man had already scraped the cedar boards and replaced the rot. 

There was work to do. Instead, he paused and watched Madeline pick a wriggling caterpillar from the cherry tree and dangle it in front of her nose. Gently, she placed the creature back onto the trunk. Madeline’s cat like eyes followed the caterpillar’s journey until it had roamed beyond reach. Annoyed, she crossed her arms tightly about her chest and lowered her head.

Birds flit everywhere. Robins, chickadees, and swallows glided to rest upon the tree’s branches. Lifting their wings just a bit, each bird let the sun’s warmth kiss their feathers. It was the season of transformation and just as spring announces change, he too, was in flux.

Annie skipped across the lawn like an inbound storm. Her arms reached for the branches of the tree, her fingers batting blossoms. Pure joy shone from her face. “Pink snow, pink snow!” He watched her pick the fallen blossoms from Madeline’s hair.

It was enough to witness Annie’s bewitching charm. She blew kisses to the clouds, danced with ghosts, her arms outstretched as she spun. He worried that her imagination was getting out of hand; she lived in her head.

“You need to reign her in,” he had told Jacqueline. “All this talk of fairies and-“ 

“Leave her be.” “Imagination is a gift.” 

He had watched as Jacqueline resumed her painting. Roses, their petals drooped cloud white, spilled overtop a round, golden vase. This morning, she had added leaves, tucked them in between the buds. He marvelled at her talent. 

“She needs to play with other children-,“ he had said.

Jacqueline froze mid brush stroke. “Enough. There are kids from one end of the block to the other.”  The brush, loaded with bluish paint, dropped to the pallet. Her fingers reached for  a cigarette.

“There’s a private nursery school up the street, ” he said.  “I think- ”

Jacqueline lit her smoke and paused to exhale. “It costs money, Roy. You paying?”

The loaded question she  left hanging in air, suggested that her father was the all time giver, the reason they weren’t renting some basement suite on the east side. Her tone certain; Jacqueline had a limited interest in the opinion of someone who had just married into the family.  

 

About A Door

Tears slip behind doors. Slammed. Sorrow’s shelter from Storm.

Love reigns behind doors. Quiet, stone still. A soft head against a shoulder.

Doors close. Locked. Listen as our footsteps flee.

Doors whisper, tell the stories of a life.

 

I’ve fallen hard for old doors. Chippy paint, cracked glass,

hand-hewned architecture . Bespoke.

~ A Sunday Moment

• Photographed  by my sister x