My end-of-the-year reflection is a goulash of imagery and words.
I listened to Garrison Keillor read a poem called "Benediction" and talk about the life of Henri Matisse on today's edition of The Writer's Almanac. It was velvet and uplifting and hopeful.
I watched Saddam Hussein have the noose placed around his neck in the video of his execution. It was barbaric and chilling and foreboding.
This week, especially, has been filled with delight and despair. Our children are home for a holiday visit. Their wisdom and peculiarity and beauty are are my treasures. Spent yesterday going to museums and bookstores with my daughter. We had an unhurried lunch and time to laugh and talk and be silent. I temper the urge to overwhelm her with my joy; our relationship seems a deeply-rooted but fragile rebirth. I have become very aware that a year is too long to go without seeing either of them. I kiss my sleepy son good morning (at 2 p.m.) and receive his disgruntled sweetness as a gift.
The despair part is more about the world in general. From today's New York Times:
The execution block scenes offered a grim echo of the sectarian struggle now convulsing Iraq, as Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads engage in a implacable cycle of revenge that has killed as many as 3,700 civilians a month this year, and prompted many Iraqis to say that the killings ushered in by the overthrow of Mr. Hussein are becoming as brutal, and numerous, as anything he inflicted.3,700 Iraqis a month. A month. Jesus Christ, how we've poured gasoline on and fanned the embers of hatred.
We also watched Deepa Mehta's film Earth, based on Bapsi Sidhwa's novel Cracking India, her autobiographical recounting of the partitioning of India. Brutal and compelling. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims lived together in relative harmony in Lahore for ages and she chronicles how lifetime friends become violent enemies by the time the country is partitioned and Lahore becomes the capital of the Punjab province of Pakistan. I have no solution, just the affirmation that violence begets hatred begets violence.
Holidays are about food. The gift of it. The sensory delight in it. For me, the perfecting of a dish.
Holidays are about laughter. The sound of it. The contagion of it. The way it cushions and clarifies truth.
Here are my end-of-year and holiday images. In no particular order.
The perfect pie, thanks to Christopher Kimball and the gurus at Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. Culinary deities every one of them. This baby tasted as good as it looked. And it looked gorgeous. For all of you who have suffered through my pastry strutting this past week, I vow this will be the last you hear about my damn pie.
And finally, my parting grammatical shot for the year:
Happy New Year!