Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gloomy weather, time for story-telling, and whale watching

The sun came up Saturday morning with a sort of surly reluctance, as if it really would rather have just slept in and let the rain run the show for the day. A full moon, of course, brings on astromically high and low tides and a correspondingly strong urge on my part to go to the beach and see what beautiful artifacts of pre-history might have been cast up by Neptune's whim. When the rain receded into the dark clouds we rushed out into a dry spot on the radar map and walked for a mile or so under stubbornly gloomy skies, for there is always something to be discovered, ancient or otherwise.

Sunday was forecast to be colder but clear so we planned to spend much of the day at the beach. Instead it was one of those days that suggest meteorology to be a science only slightly less primitive and uncertain than alchemy: it has been colder, certainly, but relentlessly overcast; not a beach day. Maddening, as my friend Louise reported the sight of 4 North Atlantic Right Whales Friday. They'd been traveling southward so I didn't expect to see those same individuals, but the thought of watching for them added more weight to the moon's pull. Last year, Rodney saw one, a female traveling with a new calf...and there is a story I need to tell, later. Not a beach day, but a fine resting day for reading, napping, thinking about writing, and good for several long-distance conversations about writing and food and love.

After a lovely dinner of tilapia a la meuniere last evening, I wrote about Cafe Alcazar as I've been threatening to do and found myself with more story than I'd expected. A LOT more. There are more characters, more depth, more personal history, and MANY more instances of lives crossing over or glancing off one another. My friend Sue and I often laugh at the recognition of these moments, and say, "Only in St. Augustine". And honestly, although I think these subtle webs of intereconnectedness must exist whereever people do, there does seem to be some inexplicable influence of location here. There is even (courtesy, again, of Lorie) the recipe for the Tahini Dressing, waiting to be shared. One of the many beauties of the blog, I'm learning, is that there's time to tell the stories. Ms. Moon pointed out today that she's posted over a thousand blogs since she started, in 2007. So there is time, my loves, and I'll try to tell you all the best stories.

Often one story brings me to another. Tonight Lorie noted for me that I'd made a mistake in the Curried Chicken Salad recipe (which I am correcting now) and this reminded me of my maternal great-grandmother. She made the most creamy, unforgettable fudge, studded with the black walnuts the mountain people love, and was often asked for her recipe. My mother suspected that though the recipe was often shared, there was always a key ingredient or part of the process left out so that no one would be able replicate the perfection of the result. In the chambers of remembrance where our memories are saved, they are all - whether treasured or hated or feared or beloved - they are all as connected as the lives I mentioned earlier. They are all as interwoven and interdependent as the threads of a sweater so that a gentle tug on one moves a corner of another. And before you know it the stories tumble out, to be poured through fingers like twisted yarn, sorted and pieced together or returned to the place that held them. But there is time. For this evening, I leave you with a view of the dark Atlantic, home to less than 400 of the endangered great creatures of the northern hemisphere, tragically named by pragmatic hunters of a bygone century for the physiology of their bodies, so perfectly "right" for the act of hunting. Here it is, being surveyed by my love, watching for the whale he spotted last year, Arpeggio, and perhaps a glimpse of her baby, a hopeful glimpse into the future.


  1. Can't wait for the salad dressing recipe.

  2. Coming up, my dears. It's a pip, and I am truly indebted to Lorie for sharing.

  3. Whale Update:
    The group Louise saw turns out to have consisted of NINE whales, and yes, the Fish and Wildlife Service's whale-watching arm DID call her that night to tell her they had been spotted. These are NINE of the LESS THAN 400 of these amazing animals alive on the planet people. Louise and her husband, on their way to Antigua Veterinary for a visit with their dog, actually saw the plane circling over the location Louise reported, and knew the whales were being found and identified. That's hopeful, people, in so many ways. Thank you, Louise!


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