…qui es in caelis.(RIP, February 8, 1998)
And there is almost the whole rotten hockey-sock full of us, camping at Mt. Lassen in 1958. Maggie is off somewhere tending to the latest, baby Gabrielle. I got on well with my Dad, though I occasionally got into a tempestuous funk when he called bullshit on some of my out of bounds forays. Retrospect, even the shortest and most immediate, drove me to apologize and acknowledge that he was likely right about everything he said, and ultimately, it was that schooling that helped me to be a reasonably constructive being (of course, I also had the benefit of a mother who tempered whatever hard-nosedness I perceived on Dad’s part, so equal participation in whatever good I might have done).
This all came to mind when the house filled up with the perfume of black currants last evening, part of the cycle of things ripening in the yard and coming indoors to be eaten or to be processed for later reference. Black currants make wonderful syrup (Crème de Cassis) or jam/jelly. Dijon is famous for its currants, as is another spot somewhat to the North and West, Bar-le-Duc, which was the source for a blackcurrant jelly that Dad particularly liked.
So, after enjoying the perfume of the blossoms, I watched as Erica pulled the fruit off the bushes while I did some grunt work close by.
Then they went into the steam juicer and into the Maslan Pan.
Eventually, they look like this. There was even a partial jar so that we could toast some of Erica’s whole-wheat bread and slather it with our own home made jelly.
I have no children of my own, but I worked at being a decent mentor for my stepson and have been pretty present in the lives of his kids. The young man in question asked me long ago why I never seemed to get upset and I explained to him that first of all, I had two grandfathers who didn’t really want to deal with children and whose gruff manner was enough to ensure that there would be no attempts at intimacy, and that, as well, he never seemed to do anything worthy of anger (true statement).
When he was over on Thursday, we snacked and cobbled together a home-made periscope, something that arose in a book his mother had given him.
The book also had material on spiders, on bruises and cuts, on sea urchins and a wealth of other topics. most of which the little man wanted to share. His mother’s parents live in town as well, so he and his sister are surrounded by care, love and coaching at many levels.
As much as to say that life in our little circle is pretty darn wonderful. The sad part is how quickly the picture degrades as we move away from that centre of friends and family, a wider world that seems to have forgotten the value of integrity, truthfulness, mutual aid and caring.
It is somewhat comforting to think that there are myriad other little islets of family and friends, of integrity, truthfulness and caring, though the network is spotty and we aren’t all connected, and that there might be a possibility that cooperation, collaboration and mutual aid might emerge as a dominant way of directing our actions. The alternative is too ugly to contemplate.