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Category: Prose in a Glass

Friday Musings: Tap Root

Friday Musings: Tap Root

I have always found gardening to be one of life’s most rewarding pursuits. I was introduced to it at a very young age, growing up first in the city of Camden where everyone had gardens in the open area that led to the Delaware River behind our row homes, and then later in the suburban town we moved to when I was six. My parents were fortunate to again have an empty field at the back of their property that my father quickly transformed into a huge garden. My own gardens that I grew as an adult were much smaller in scale, but they still seemed to produce a bumper crop every year. My dad and I differed in our ways of doing things. I like raised beds, and he preferred gardens that stepped down. He saw no use for flowers among the vegetables, and I liked to intermix the two, sometimes even according to color. He’d reach for the strongest spray in his lean-to behind the garage at the first sign of pests or fungus, and I preferred organic methods that made him laugh. I felt very close to him when we talked about ideas for planting, or when I consulted him for help. By the time I was growing things of my own, he’d given up his own garden and enjoyed spending time in mine as a result. HIs parents were gardeners too, as were my mom’s parents, so there was also the feeling that we were continuing a tradition that had started many years ago. I share that same sense of connection with my son, Zachary, who also loves to garden, and I’m pleased to say that my daughter, Wendy, has also taken up the practice in the last few years. It definitely feels like something that runs in the family in a very deep way.

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Friday Musings: Ignition Point

Friday Musings: Ignition Point

In last Friday’s post, I talked about a particular sense of calm that comes on Christmas Eve that presents us with the opportunity to find a moment of deep peace and joy. This year, I felt as though that moment came to me more easily, maybe because I’d shared the idea of it with all of you, or because the actual process of writing tends to make me more open to possibilities. In either case, I walked into Zachary’s house feeling very zen and ready to take on the Seven Fishes. Things were going along swimmingly (awful pun intended) until we set a baking sheet of kale on fire in the oven. Notice the calm spirit in which I write that sentence. Now, those of you who follow me know that this is not my first fiery rodeo in the kitchen. A few years ago, we had a similar mishap during which a tray of chopped pecans entered the oven as a potential cake garnish, only to emerge as a pile of ash reminiscent of the apocalypse. Needless to say, the kale suffered a similar fate. The first time around we did absolutely everything wrong in “handling” the fire; in fact, our behavior could have easily been made into a “How NOT to Act” fire safety video. What was our biggest mistake? Ah well, we opened the oven door, of course, and the fire became an inferno. This time when Zachary reached in that same direction, I stopped him. We turned off the oven, shooed everyone out of the house, and we watched the fire burn out and die.

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Prose in a Glass: Against a Wall

Prose in a Glass: Against a Wall

As many of you know, the Japanese author Haruki Murakami is one of my absolute favorites. In 2009, he traveled to Israel to accept the Jerusalem prize for literature, an award given to writers whose work deals with themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government. He was advised not to go because of the violent fighting that was occurring in Gaza at the time. He ignored that advice and gave an acceptance speech in which he said that the following quote would forever be engraved in his mind: “Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.” Although Murakami claimed not to be making a direct political speech that day, he did go on to draw metaphorical comparisons between human beings as eggs, and the systems of government that we create as walls. He believes that his one and only reason for writing is to “keep a light trained on The System in order to prevent it from tangling our souls in its web and demeaning them.” In short, the driving force behind his work is to champion human individuality and personal dignity. There is much talk of walls these days and I certainly have no desire to enter into that fray. I will say that I agree with Murakami in that the political structures we put in place to protect human rights sometimes end up being their greatest threat. The constant vigilance and demand for accountability that can come from the artistic world often seems to be one of the few things that has the power to neutralize that threat, even if only because it raises awareness.

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