Twelfth Night, more isolation, and a killer dinner


Jacob, about six,
on Twelfth Night

Jacob making a wish

Thanks to Covid and unusually cold weather, I missed our annual Twelfth Night observance. I’ve said this before and you may be tired of hearing it, but when I was a child, we had a neighbor who held a Twelfth Night celebration that, as far as I can tell, was of her own making. She had each person throw a small evergreen twig into the fireplace and make a silent wish. My family adopted it, and my children have done it since they were very young. Of course, there was the year my ex tried to burn an entire garland, and my Megan came running to me, “Mom, Dad’s burning the house down!” He almost did.

Of my childhood custom, I should add that this neighbor couple, childless, became my adopted aunt and uncle, and spoiled me rotten. She loved to pick out clothes for me, with the result I had a more bountiful wardrobe than I had any right to expect. I frequently went back and forth between the two houses, and Uncle Jack, ever the gentleman, escorted me if there was the least hint of darkness. They used to take me to dinner, especially at the South Shore Country Club, then in its heyday of elegance. When I ordered fish because I really liked it, Auntie E., a devout Catholic, would say, “Oh, honey, you don’t have to do that. It’s not Friday.” I can see her yet—grey hair swept into a kind of chignon, wearing an elegant dressing gown, and delicately throwing a branch in the fireplace. Good childhood memories.

Back to Twelfth Night this year. Because we’re still quarantining, we were not going to have a fire in the indoor fireplace as usual, but Jordan offered to light small fire for me in the fire pit on my patio. That lonely fire for one, combined with the prospect of being so cold, sounded pretty bleak, and I declined with thanks.

They ended up doing a fire in their firebox on the front porch. Jordan sent me the above picture of Jacob making his wish, and I thought it was fun to pair it with a picture of him when he was about five or six. Two neighbors joined them, and Jordan asked for everyone to make a wish for me since I was hiding in the cottage. She told me hers, though I wanted to shush her—wishes are supposed to be secret!

If I had one wish tonight, I think it would be to have my garden magically reappear. I’m finding it dispiriting to look out at frozen plants—I think the one on the deck is a hibiscus, but the basil in my vegetable garden droops as though dead (which it undoubtedly is), so do the two lovely coleus plants in big pots by my door and the fountain grass in a big pot by the garden gate. Even the wonderful vine on the fence has given up and looks wilted. Were I mobile and the temperature not so frigid, I’d go yank those dead plants out. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

My grits dinner
Tonight, I fixed myself a semi-complicated dinner—most meals get more complicated when you have to do everything on one hot plate. When the directions say, “Meantime, while the grits are cooking, fry the bacon,” I have to do that in stages. But my dinner was a base of cheese grits with chopped bacon, sauteed cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, and a fried egg. So good but, omigosh! was it too much food! An hour later, I still have that full feeling. Reminds me of Jack, my sons’ Boy Scout leader, who used to chant, “I’m full enough!” after dinner.

Tomorrow, we have decided Jordan can safely come into the cottage wearing a mask. And I’ll mask. So that’s something to look forward to, plus I want to do a Zoom class on plotting and Jordan brought me the ingredients for a cranberry cake, so I’ll make that tomorrow. These isolation days go faster if I have chores. And writing doesn’t always do it.  

Sweet dreams. Stay warm and safe during this cold spell.