Sarah has a thing about learning to become a proper southern hostess. (I've been called in to help her on occasion, as on this night in October.) Growing up in Manhattan and living later years in such cities as Madison, WI and Chicago, not to mention some years in Guatemala and China, she didn't have the same training I did. And so I watch, intrigued, as year after year she shares the steps taken that will carry her closer to reaching her goal.
Yesterday it was Key Lime Pie. She told me on the phone and I got very excited, loving Key Lime Pie as I do. And it turned out gloriously, to my tastebuds, but I think they realized something went askew with the recipe. As in too many of those little limes. But so what? Tart pie can still be good pie.
Now I've found photos from another, larger gathering where you see Sarah dancing and Rachel talking - a true unscripted candid reflecting the natural flow of that evening. So many who were there that night are now living elsewhere: abroad, in Charlotte, in Seattle. These times are very different from those times. And we are "live in the moment" kind of people, so I don't think any of us actually took our time together for granted. Not really. But I still wonder how we'd have paid even closer attention that night, had we realized that two years out so many of us would have so many miles between us.
So Sarah and Jim and I sat on this very deck, Emma the Dog much less a puppy now, laying at our feet, Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor (among others,) serenading us, possibly one of the same citronella candles in its little bucket keeping the critters away, candles providing ambience - same as always. And as with all our gatherings on that deck, we talked of travel, of interesting people we know, of books and writing, of good food, (Jim can grill anything to perfection,) of studies and of careers. Regardless of the participants, whether we're 3 or 10, the themes of these gatherings remain the same. Today, recalling the perfection of my evening, I'd say Sarah is every bit the proper southern hostess. Proper, at least, in the ways that matter the most.