I think the ultimate sign of friendship is when your friends feel comfortable enough to invite themselves over to your home. Whether it’s for a cup of coffee or a couple of days escape from the city. It’s such a beautiful compliment. It shows that they miss you and they want to see you and hang out. Usually the first thing to cross my mind when this happens is “What are we going to eat?” No kidding. It doesn’t have to be complicated and elaborate. I find these somewhat unexpected visits really inspiring.
I try to always be stocked up on basic ingredients for unexpected visits. Pasta, crushed tomatoes, couscous, lentils and rice which, combined with what’s in the fridge will most likely help me throw something together on short notice. This way there is never a reason, or excuse, not to eat well.
A very unattractive and out of place laundry room here at Crandall House got a second chance when we decided to convert it into a pantry. Although a pantry is a lovely thing to have, it does expose your private eating habits to the world. Anyone who walks into your pantry will know what you eat and what you like to hoard. Trash that you might crave once in a while but wouldn’t want anyone to ever know about is right there, on display. A slight panic used to arise inside of me when someone walked in and poked around our pantry. I knew it would happen. I do it too. I love peaking into pantries when visiting new places. Over time I stopped worrying. We all have our habits and secret cravings. It’s a part of who we are.
“Happy Days Are Here Again”.The tune penned by Ager and Yellen in 1930 is stuck in my head. Roosevelt and his Democratic party used it shamelessly as a campaign medley for many years, but mostly, it is remembered as a sort of theme song for the repeal of prohibition. The significance isn’t lost on me as I watch the bottles fill one by one with ruby coloured liquid. Pinot noir has not graced our cellar for some time. Not since the unusually warm spring of 2012 which woke our buds early. Too early. That April night, Mother Nature arrived with a decidedly wicked temperance bend and unleashed frost. Only barren vines remained in her wake.
At times I despised her. Hated her with every fibre of my being. I’d want to shake my fists at the sky above me and berate the unfairness and treachery of her actions. You bitch, I’d want to yell with all the strength and fury I could muster. Except, I wouldn’t. I shift uneasily. Generally, I try not to wish anyone harm. Although there have been some notable exceptions, in this case it is not some higher moral stratus in which I try to perch myself. I am not blithely turning my check. An undercurrent of unease washes over me. I smell something. An unmistakable odour. One I remember as a child when I thought a ghoul lived under my bed. Or the smell that could paralyze me while I waited for my school bus. The same bus that safely carried my neighbourhood bully towards me. Later in life, this odour came and went. The smell could linger around an office table as I waited for a job interview or while I stood in line at customs and immigration coming home from abroad. Yes, I recognize that smell. We never forget the smell of fear. I am not the superstitious type. Frankly, not even religious. Still, somehow, in these modern times, I fear her. I fear what she could do to me. What she could do to anyone. So, I do not think ill thoughts of her. No, Mother Nature is far too dangerous.
Today, I hum that tune. We have lots of bottles to fill with pinot noir. Friends have come to help us. Johnny tirelessly drives the corks into the bottle while Kate, his lovely fiancé, masters the bottle filler. With a deft hand she loads up the bottles while we all gossip and laugh. We desperately try to keep up with Kate’s speed and Johnny still finds time to photograph and capture the moment. Jens shoots me a smile. We are lucky to have friends. Lucky to have wine. Mother Nature was not vexed. Yes, happy days are here again.