Objects with a history follow your imagination into the past carving out their own stories. Years ago, my mother gifted me a glass bowl. A few months ago while visiting her, she told me once again to take the bowl home and I finally shipped it across the prairies from her Ontario farm.
I also shipped home a rather grotesque lamp that was originally my grandmother’s. While my mother had encouraged me to take the lamp for years, it was only recently that it became strangely meaningful. I recently grew to love this lamp not so much for itself but for how it illuminates the mysterious history of my orphaned grandmother I painstakingly unearthed over four years of genealogical research. Now the lamp carries the perfect illustrative companion to my grandmother’s lost ancestors. This is especially true of my great grandmother who as it turns out lived among mid-nineteenth-century royalty in Windsor Castle as domestic servant to one of Queen Victoria’s military knights.
But that is a long story about colonial patronage, the Mohawk warriors who won the War of 1812’s Battle of Beaver Dam, and several famous nineteenth-century Canadian settler women writers.
A story for another time.
For the moment I attend to my mother’s bowl that sits on my kitchen island, its glistening hollow filled with with apples – tender MacIntosh if I can find them, my favourite variety reminiscent of the apple orchard beside our rural Ontario childhood home. The Lennox orchard just west of Pickering Village grew wonderful varieties of apples. And from time to time, we climbed the trees when no one was looking surreptitiously breaking the apple stems from the branches. Our pockets bursting with ripe fruit, we raced home through the neighbouring field. Our pace accelerated with guilty delight.
These memories, this ripe fruit, enliven this moment. For dinner last night, my paramour bakes scrumptious apple crisp.
We peel the apples together. He chops them into pieces and measures the other ingredients with care. His fingers massage butter, sugar and oats until it crumbles just so. After spreading the topping onto the sugar, cinnamon, and lemon-soaked apples slices, he bends to slide the pan into the hot oven.
At night, between lovemaking and dawn, I dream of apples. This morning we indulge in dessert for breakfast.
The final baked dish is sweet with brown sugar and tart with lemon, silky with apple flesh and crunchy with caramalized oats.
That about sums up these latter life days – sweet with renewed health and pleasure while tart and sometimes bitter on the edge of a world in crisis.
The glass bowl shifts and tilts held in balance like my being crafted daily by the rhythms of yoga that mark time with my breath — the balance of flexible measures attuned to this moment.