My family would be quick to tell you that it is not all that uncommon for me to call or text them at crazy hours to say, “Hurry up… go out and look at the moon!” Sometimes they will listen to me, and other times they will not, claiming extreme fatigue, too much grading to do, a child that needs to be bathed, or some other trivial matter that demands their attention. I secretly keep a little journal of who runs outside and reports back appropriately awestruck, as well as who doesn’t, although I’m not sure what prize the winner will eventually get. I’ve always had a belief, its origin uncertain, that if we have knowledge that some kind of natural phenomenon is happening, and we don’t go outside to bear witness to its spectacle, we are in for big trouble. From a very young age, I decided that it was my job to announce things like beautiful sunsets, or amazing rainbows, or massive storms coming in, or the world’s biggest spider web out by the light on the porch, all with the admonition for everyone I could tell, “No, no, you HAVE to go see it!” Even as a full grown adult at Recklesstown Distillery, which is situated in a spot where you can see the horizon from one end to the other, I was always sending the staff outside to see the moonrise, or the sunset, or some crazy frog, no matter how busy we were. It only ever took a second, but it was one that I thought it was necessary to give. If I sit down and truly consider why I feel this way, I honestly believe that it’s because instances like the ones I’ve described have that peculiar juxtaposition of fragility and power that always offers us a momentary glimpse into some important truth, much like the understanding that hovers around the edges of what we’re reading or dreaming.
When I look back at all the posts that I’ve shared on this blog over the past six and a half years, it always makes me smile to realize how many of them have been about love, a topic that just might be at the forefront of everyone’s mind this week with Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon. Many people believe that loss is the human condition, or the single most relatable experience that binds us together as human beings. There is very little doubt that our reaction to our own suffering, as well as to that of others, builds and defines our character. Although I have always believed this to be true, I have also wondered, especially as I’ve grown older, what part love plays in the process. If it is the way we behave and respond when we suffer a great loss that measures who we are, then doesn’t it stand to reason that the same argument could be made about the experience of love? Perhaps what stops us from looking at love this way is that it’s simply easier to view loss as a lesson and love as a gift, despite the fact that they are actually interchangeable. When loss comes into our lives, it does so in a way that is monstrously powerful, knocking us off our feet and pummeling us with wave after wave of grief, some of which threaten to hold us under forever. Every time we emerge from the pounding, we are changed. The power of love is also monumental and unmistakeable; in fact, few of us would argue that it is anything other than a force that is equally capable of sweeping the ground right out from under us. It also changes us forever. But the difference between the two is that love is as fragile as it is strong, torn down at times by the slightest injury, yet able to withstand a major affront, rebuilt each day in much the same way a spider patiently dismantles and reweaves her web each night.
When we fall for another person, we are often so awed and overwhelmed by the depth of what we are feeling that it can take some time before love reveals its fragile side. As a relationship matures, love appears to change, and we tend to find ourselves in the midst of living days that are filled with all things ordinary. Love begins to need our nurturing and protection. It seems odd, doesn’t it, to think of love in this way? And yet, at the same time, it makes perfect sense so long as we allow ourselves to see certain parts of love as being in the same category as sunsets and rainbows, fleeting, delicate, demanding our immediate attention and appropriate amazement, and filled with nuanced truth. Within even the most mundane or difficult day with the person we love, there are always moments when a feeling washes over us that is unexpected. Maybe it’s awe, or gratitude, or simply love itself, but the clock begins to tick, and we only have a few seconds to articulate what has surprised us before our chance disappears in the same way that sunsets and rainbows do. This is how we nurture and protect the relationship itself, so that when storms come along, as they always do, we can do the same work that the spider does, rebuilding love so that it’s stronger each time. In the sky this week, the moon that we’ll see just after sunset will still be in its waxing crescent phase, beginning as a thin sliver and growing in size and intensity each night. Because this phase follows the new moon, it is recognized as a symbol of hope and renewal, and it encourages us to believe that the light will always return, in much the same way that we can be certain that love will also do the same. Don’t miss the chance to see it.
For today’s cocktail, I began with a simple syrup made from a Japanese cherry blossom tea that has the the most amazing delicate flavor. Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are also a symbol of new beginnings, returning each year for only a brief period of time before they disappear. Their flavor is subtle and easily overwhelmed by other ingredients, a fact which also worked in a way that was very symbolic for me. I had to handle the remainder of the cocktail with great care in order to bring the cherry blossom flavor forward. I admit to a bit of trial and error here. First I tried gin, and then tequila, both of which were fairly big mistakes. I finally landed on Pisco, a grappa style spirit from Peru that is both herbaceous and floral. It pulled the sakura flavor right to the front of the cocktail, which was exactly what I wanted. I added lime juice as my citrus, and an egg white, and two dashes of Floral bitters from Strongwater, which helped to highlight the cherry blossom flavor even more. So much of our daily lives is overwhelmed by things that are harsh, or sad, or difficult to hear, and yet, underneath it all, love remains, needing only our acknowledgement to illuminate the dark. Cheers everyone. Happy Sunday! I wish you love. I wish you light.
Long shake no ice.
Long shake with ice.
Double strain into a cocktail coupe.
Garnish with cocktail glitter – pink for Valentine’s Day!
*Brew 8 oz of cherry blossom tea at double strength. Allow to steep, then reheat after adding an equal amount of sugar.
**Or vegan substitute: 1 T chick pea liquid or Aquafaba.