Friday, June 29, 2018


There are two favorite times of day: one is when I sip my morning cup of coffee alone. Usually outside, or standing at the kitchen door, looking at the garden.

The second is Just Before Dinner. I whistle at the Frenchman when it is five minutes from being ready, and he lays the table. The anticipation of sitting and sharing that meal is like a holiday in the middle of the days of madness that characterize 2018.

We sit outside as much as we can, retreating indoors only when the humidity is deeply stifling, or when it is freezing. Curiously, we also eat inside when we are freshly and deeply stressed: Outside is never really private - lots of windows looking down, and if they are open, conversation may as well be public. Like a vulnerable naked oyster we retreat into our shell.

We are strange New Yorkers. In a city riddled with excellent restaurants we rarely eat out. Partly because it is expensive - and why pay $18 for a cocktail when you can have a better one in your own [ahem: the landlord's] garden? - partly because we hate shouting at each other over a table. And shopping for seasonal ingredients at outstanding farmers' markets is also a New York pleasure and privilege; so is growing them or foraging for them.

This is the only time we really get to talk, and we save up small events from our days to tell each other. A story about an interesting dog who looked at us, for example, or two squirrels that fell out of a tree and landed smack on the sidewalk, or the old man who is always on the street when Vince goes to work in the wee hours. We hold hands.

In the garden at night there are fireflies, so we watch them as we eat. After a tentative start they are now very active, swooping high like embers from a windy fire. Sometimes they find their way indoors and hours later there will suddenly be a flash in a dark room. We rescue them and release them back to the night and their constant calling.



  1. I love dining outside, it's one of the best things about the warm months. We shall be chased indoors this week with oppressive heat, unusual for the mountain top.

  2. Thank you, Marie. This post has moved me to return the evening meal that my husband and I share to the time together that it once was. Since the current President became the Republican nominee, we most often have been eating that meal inside while watching public television's 7 p.m. newscast and absorbing the political travesties and other tragedies of the day. It took your lovely post to shake me out of that dreadful habit (we can get all the news we need from print publications and online) and into taking the simple and obvious step of returning our early evening rendezvous to our deck, where we can focus on enjoying time (and our meal) together while surrounded by the delights of summer there (including but not limited to relatively low humidity, moderate temperatures [usually], no mosquitoes and privacy [I'm still campaigning to get you two to consider moving to the Pacific Northwest someday]).

    1. P.S. For those of us who are firefly-deprived, would you take and post some photographs of your Brooklyn fireflies in action?

    2. Leslie, how happy you make me! What we have taken to calling "news" is pure poison. The worst of times, offered as an entertainment. No purpose is served. Yes, read. Stay informed. But kick the news in the teeth.

      Fireflies. I shall try. Fleeting and very hard to capture.

  3. Your post has inspired me to make more of our evening meal. For people who love food (and foraging) as much as we do, we only share meals when we eat out. Strange. We should fix that.

  4. I love how the two of you make dinner so special every day, and how you often enjoy it outside in the garden. And you hold hands.... that's just the sweetest!

  5. yes.
    gathering around the dining table and being fully present to both the food and the company seems to be an act of fierce resistance these days.
    i often trade the news feed for wendell berry, mary oliver and rumi.
    #selfpreservation #notmypresident

  6. Oh,fireflies! I saw them once when I visited relatives back east for a summer. Then I saw them again on a visit to Chicago. Fireflies are magical.

  7. It is strange how the current disaster has reduced every sane person to appreciate the smallest things, which in my household were always appreciated. Thank you for voicing what most rational human beings are thinking. To quote a die hard Repub. Worse than imagined.


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