I made the best dinner of all time today: smoked salmon chowder (see Epicurious for recipe; then double most of it, use chicken instead of veggie stock, and add fresh dill). It was freakishly, awesomely delicious. I’m not sure why, exactly, but the fact that the potatoes and garlic were harvested from our garden a week or two ago and the leeks and dill just tonight might have helped. And let’s face it: the fact that the smoked salmon was from one of the monsters my nephews and brothers-in-law caught fishing on Lake Michigan in August wasn’t bad either. I thought the meal would be a festival of the goodness of local eating — hence the name of the post — but it’s way more than that.
While we ate, we had music playing in the background: a mix of songs from my iPhone. One song was from my acapella group in college, and Ezra kept asking: Mama is that you? So when one song featured a solo of mine, we turned it up and I told them yes, this is me. The rest of the time you can’t hear me because I’m blending in with all those other beautiful voices, but I’m part of the music. But they were so thrilled to hear me sing solo that we found the other track of mine: Cats in the Cradle. I remember the day I earned this solo in group auditions, being near to tears myself and apparently bringing others to the same point. It was just such a poignant song to me, as one in a long line of kids who didn’t get what they needed from their parents, and as someone who assumed that patterns perpetuate themselves. But to hear my own nineteen-year-old voice singing those lines, remembering the anguish inside me, while looking at these gorgeous, robust, whole children of mine AND their beautiful, engaged papa…well, it brought me to tears again.
It’s a strange thing, when you spend a lifetime with a sense of unfairness, to discover that sometimes, even if only for a little while, there’s a reprieve. Sometimes the universe rains down the kinds of goodness we had mostly decided was a myth. And sometimes it rains down all kinds of goodness at once. Tonight was one such night: a veritable flood of goodness. The beneficence of family and the earth and water; the originality and specificity of these small boys; the good flavors and great good fortune of our food and time together. The voices of dear friends from long ago making music that still moves us all to dance. A friend of mine once said that the universe has lessons to teach us, and if we aren’t listening, it will keep beating us about the head and neck until we do. This was more of a massage, really, a kind, persistent, and powerful reminder that it’s safe to relax, to trust in who and what we’ve chosen, to reap what we’ve tried to sow. I can’t imagine a greater mercy.