Monday, November 30, 2009

The Long Sweetening

"You know what Granny used to call molasseys? the long sweetening. Reach me some of that long sweetening, honey, she'd say at the breakfast table. I can hear her now."
~Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith

Long sweetening was so called because of the time it took to cook and stir the cane into syrup, and also because of the way the flavor lingers. When new, the cane is sweet like white sugar, but when slow-cooked over an open wood fire down to the deep sulfured pitch that we know as molasses... long sweetening. Southern folks used it to sweeten their coffee (and some still do) and poured it on biscuits instead of honey or jam.

We had a wonderful (and delicious!) Thanksgiving weekend in Port Angeles with Steve's family. I really enjoyed meeting them and spending time with them. While there, Steve and I spent one evening parked across the inlet, below the rise of Hurricane Ridge and the glittering teeth of the Olympic Mountain range, watching the city lights twinkle on the water. We could hear the breakers pounding like thunder from the Sound against the beach behind us. It was beautiful and peaceful... and it gave way to an "Aha!" moment. I realized what the difference is in my relationship with Steve. It's not just that I love him, but that I love being with him. I have always wanted someone just to be with... and he makes it so easy, so comfortable, so.... inviting. It doesn't matter if we're doing something fun, something mundane, or even if we're absorbed in our own projects at opposite ends of the house. It's good just to be together. And when he holds me? Well, the rest of the world just disappears.

On Friday Steve and his brother went fishing. I spent much of the day talking to Bob (Dad). We talked about everything, but mostly what it's like to loose a mate. He revealed a man who refuses to be immobilized by the grief he still feels over losing his wife (who died nearly two years ago), but who isn't sure how to proceed (I could relate). He also revealed a man who has such deep love and respect (and hope) for his sons that it was breathtaking. The finest symphony will never compare to the beautiful strains I heard that day. What a lovely man. I'm honored to have shared tears with him.

I feel a deep stirring within me, as if something that has been cooking over a low fire is now ready. It's as if, all my life, I've been sweeping the wooden paddle through this vat of goo and it's finally reached a perfect point of richness, of stickiness even, of something that's worthy at any table. This part of my life is the long sweetening, that acrid rich, sticky-sweet flavor that cannot be ignored, denied, or resisted. As if I'd want to. Reach me some of that long sweetenin'.

"... I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it, it is now. It's funny how a person can be so busy living that they forget this is it. This is my life."
~Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith

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