redux: a cup of kindness

From New Year’s Eve, 2015, when it seems we didn’t celebrate with the friends we usually spend the evening with. Tonight we will!

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It’s just after three and the sun is already sliding down beyond the trees. It’s lovely, though — like old faded gold. And the hard frost has rimed every surface with silver. Our house is quiet after 12 days of festivity, beginning with John’s birthday on the 19th, Cristen’s on the 21st, and Sahand’s on the 24th, followed by Christmas itself. I have to confess that not all of us were celebrating together for the whole time as we were gifted with a Norovirus (I’m looking at you, Kelly!) and it made its merry way through the household, some of us suffering more than others but no one was immune. I wouldn’t have passed up the opportunity to make meals for my loved ones, though, even knowing what I know now about sleeplessness, nausea, and aches in every joint and muscle. And yes, wine was consumed (many bottles of it); so was shortbread, white chocolate fruit cake, gingerbread, nuts, trifle, Turkish delight, any number of kinds of chocolates, and little glasses of Carolan’s Irish Cream. A turkey. A duck. Lamb made into Khoresh Gheymeh and served with Zeytoon Parvardeh (a wonderful green olive, walnut, and pomegranate salad). Flourless chocolate torte as a group birthday cake. No one went hungry.

We are spending New Years Eve alone. The two of us. We don’t feel strong enough to go out into the world and make merry. The others left, one car after another loaded down with presents, luggage, a baby clutching her dolly, and two cats in their carriers. We’re promised a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis tonight, if we stay awake long enough, and there’s still enough food for the Russian army (though maybe we don’t want to feed them at this point in human history), and one last bottle of Prosecco if we feel like toasting the turn of the year.

New Years Eve always makes me wistful. How did a year pass without me noticing, without me keeping up with the things I’d hoped to accomplish. How did the years accumulate so that we are now anticipating 2016 — oh, and I’ve only just become accustomed to beginning writing a date with 20– instead of 19–. I thought I’d have the whole house clean in readiness for the new year. My mother was raised in a Scots Presbyterian house and believed that it was bad luck to take the old year’s clutter and dust into the new. I began the day with good intentions, after waving goodbye to those driving away this morning. I disinfected the bathrooms and the two rooms where most of the sickness took place, washing three loads of bed-linens, hanging much of it out on the clothes line to freeze any residual bugs, and took out several bags of trash. But the rest of the house? Hmmm. My study is what my Yorkshire mother-in-law would have called a “tip”. Baskets of wrapping papers and bags of ribbons (all to save for next year, of course!), stacks of research materials, piles of books, some packages of seeds I meant to do something with (I can’t remember what), oh, and family photographs I’ve been meaning to scan, though looking at them is like a trick of light, whoosh, everything happening at once, time and the years burning as brightly as the fir in our woodstove, the heat lasting almost a whole night. The heat, the images so sweetly warm, the faces as beautiful as the sun is this very minute, soft and golden, filtering through the branches of the trees like memory.

So I wish you all a very happy New Year, filled with good health and sweetness, and I hope you get to hear someone sing that most beautiful of Robert Burns’s poems, set to music:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

As for me, I’ll be listening while I look at old photographs, remembering not two but three young children running in the grass at Nicola Lake summer after summer, never imagining them grown. And now gone.

at Nicola Lakebrendan at Nicola Lake

 

redux: the physics of candles

From December, 2016…

Yesterday John wondered aloud where candles go as they burn. Some of the wax drips down, of course, but some candles burn so beautifully clean that you turn and they’re gone, dematerialized into thin air.

We burn a lot of candles. In winter they are a way of keeping the light present and close. We found a silver candelabra in a junk shop in Faulkland years ago, its silver hidden under half an inch of blue wax. I could tell it would lovely once it was cleaned and polished so we bought it for 20 bucks. On that particular road trip, we’d been listening to Ian Tyson and I kept pressing Replay when “The Road to Las Cruces” came on: “Does the wind still blow/Out of New Mexico?/ Does the silver candelabra still shine?” So it was fitting to find what we call the Ian Tyson candelabra and when the candles burn in its shapely holders, I think of Faulkland, and New Mexico, and roads leading to mythical places. When we went to New Mexico a few years ago, we didn’t drive as far as Las Cruces but we did recognize Las Vegas from the song, and the cow boss of the big ranch nearby.

candles.jpg

But where does the wax go? I was awake early wondering. It must be the same place firewood goes when it burns, only part of the log reduced to ash. It goes to heat and smoke, to water, to carbon dioxide. Are you awake, I asked John. Just, he said in a sleepy voice. It was 6:18 and we spent half an hour discussing the physics of candles and firewood.

And time. Where it does. Because yesterday we were caring for our grandson while his parents and his auntie Angie went down to Sechelt for sushi and Arthur spent an hour outside with his granddad, doing stuff. Throwing stones into the little pond where the yellow irises bloom so beautifully in summer. Exchanging sticks. Picking up boughs brought down by wind and taking them to the burning pile. And as I looked out the kitchen window, I thought I saw Arthur’s dad Forrest following his dad as he did those same things 34 years ago. When I told John this, he said he’d had the same sense of time. That he was outside with his son, showing him the woods, the birds, the long curve of the driveway down and out into the world.

In our bed before the rest of the household woke, I confessed that I feel I’m in a place between worlds these days. Part of it is due to the presence of part of my family, the way they occupy the rooms in the back of the house as others once occupied them, their younger selves, their brother who is in Edmonton with his own young family. When I wake in the night with the feeling that the house is full again, I have to stop to parse what that means. Who, where, when. Part of it is because I’ve been writing about my parents and my father’s family, new immigrants to Alberta in 1913, and the difficult lives they led there. They’re all mine and I hover between them, the different worlds, the time passing and accumulating, so that I don’t recognize where I am in that continuum. Part of it is because I’ve been anticipating some medical tests after the holiday and maybe I’m closer to those who’ve already passed from this world than I’m ready to admit. But I feel strangely comfortable with that thought.

When I read Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall, I noted this:  “A stray fact: insects are not drawn to candle flames, they are drawn to the light on the far side of the flame, they go into the flame and sizzle to nothingness because they’re so eager to get to the light on the other side.” Is this what candles know, as they burn and transform to water and heat? Is this what we know as we gaze at them, wondering?

 

freehand

freehand

from a work-in-progress:

When I began to make quilts, in 1987, I wanted to explore blue. A soft patchwork of pale blue prints worked into Ohio stars paired with unbleached cotton; a composition of log-cabin blocks, blue strips and yellow, a tiny square of red in the middle for the fire; red tulips in a haze of forget-me-nots. I began to think of ways to print the surfaces myself, with wax and clamps and strands of tough string. I batiked leaping salmon and then drew thread through the cloth in the mokume shibori technique, pulling it tight and knotting it. The waxed and tied bundles were immersed in a deep blue Procion dye. Before taking them out and rinsing them, I cracked the wax a little to allow dye to penetrate the relief fish. Once I’d removed all the wax, using my mother’s old iron and many pages of newspaper, I liked the results, though the lines of mokume weren’t as wavery as I’d hoped they would be. I had some fabric paint and used a fine brush to detail the salmon with lines of red along the tail and fins. I loved what Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada wrote in Memory on Cloth: Shibori Now:

When the cloth is returned to its two-dimensional form, the design that emerges is the result of the three-dimensional shape, the type of resist, and the amount of pressure exerted by the thread or clamp that secured the piece during the cloth’s exposure to the dye. The cloth sensitively records both the shape and the pressure; it is the “memory” of the shape that remains imprinted in the cloth. This is the essence of shibori.

You do this for the process, what you learn along the way. That waxed dental floss sewn along lines with a basting stitch can be pulled tight for water, that waxing a fish into plain cotton and dipping the cotton in blue gives you a memory of watching coho spawn in the creek near your house, a cycle that has been going on since the last ice age at least. That others have dipped cloth into blue dye and worn the pigment on their hands for weeks afterwards.

winter dreaming at the end of the old year

crossing the bridge

Last night I dreamed so vividly of a place my family lived in the 1950s, at the foot of Poignant Mountain, and a drive across the Fraser River to Mission City. I dreamed and woke and couldn’t believe how the years had passed.

All the mystery of waiting at the river for the bridge to come down, the dark water, the glowing of the beehive burners, the anticipation of an egg salad sandwich and a chocolate milkshake. A crossing I loved. From Matsqui to Mission, from our side of the river to the other. And returning, driving home over the bridge again, from the shadow of the mountains to the open prairie, along Riverside Road, past Miss Kemprud’s where we went for ice-cream during Sunday drives, past the school my younger brother attended, past the hall where, at the age of five, I’d been in a fashion show—I modelled a tartan skirt and short-sleeved sweater from Eaton’s, which I hated and which my mother bought for me afterwards—along Harris Road, then Glenmore, house lights golden in the black fields, turning right on Townshipline Road until we reached our own driveway, the quiet barn with its sleeping cows, and the sound of frogs loud in the slough. I’ve turned a dream into a memory. But in fact both are the same.

Across dark water, I went from childhood to adolescence. The house at the end of the row by the radio base was not the house we returned to from Mission City in the dream that was also a memory. It was a white house on a farm on a long road, but that road led back to the foot of Poignant Mountain, forgotten and then found, lard pails stained by blueberries and abandoned on the verge, a small girl huddled in the cool bunker where the milk waited to be collected and where I wait now with her for the end of the world.

— from “Poignant Mountain”, Euclid’s Orchard, published by Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017.

“who found you in the green forest?”

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?

bare boughs

Our tree has just been set into the corner by the south window. John is stringing lights and just before he began, I wanted to say, Let’s leave it bare this year, just this one year. We chose a tree growing in a thicket of whippy alders, under the big Cheekeye-Dunsmuir power lines above the Malaspina substation, and before the trees get very big, they are hacked to the ground to keep the lines clear. So a good place to cut a Christmas tree because at least we will cherish it for the week it’s in our house, and remember it. “Who found you in the green forest?” It was us, knowing within five minutes that this was the tree. The boxes of ornaments are on the floor by the sideboard. The Wayne Ngan bowl will be filled with nuts and chocolates.

But to leave the tree bare one year would also be a good thing. To keep the green boughs clear, to keep the lyrical shape of it intact, unfettered by lights or wooden horses or silvery bells. Not this year. The lights, as I mentioned, are being strung in and through the lovely branches.

look                    the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine

For all of you who are looking at your own tree or remembering the trees of Christmases past or lighting candles against the darkness or singing those old true carols, I wish you the happiest of days and a beautiful year to follow.

redux: boughs

From December 23, 2014.

We did cut our tree this morning, again a tall Douglas fir, but it won’t come inside until December 24. For now it rests in the woodshed, its trunk in a small bucket of water.

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Our tree has just come into the house. Cut this morning, a nine-foot Douglas fir, it has all the odour of the winter forest, and its boughs are so green and lush that I’m almost tempted to say, “Let’s leave it naked this year.” A paradox — to dress an evergreen in baubles and stars? Little ceramic birds? To remind it of the world it’s been taken from, to give us green through the darkest days? No living bird will settle on these boughs again. No snow will accumulate on the needles, no cones will form. Tomorrow we’ll pull out the boxes of decorations and place them on every branch, against the trunk, the one special star on the top (which had to be trimmed to fit into our house). For now, I want to stand on the edge of the room and look at its splendid undressed beauty.

Trees bring in the scent of the outdoors and they remind us too of moments when we sat by them, cut them for firewood, burned them gratefully all winter for their heat, brushed against them and ran our fingers along their various barks, reminded of them later as we raised resiny hands to our faces.

Remember “Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout” by Gary Snyder? (From Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems):

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.
I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.
I don’t have cones from this tree but here’s a pair of elegant long cones I picked up under a small stand of Pinus monticola at the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa last month while walking there with Forrest and Manon. They still smell alive. They can stand in for absence, tokens of affection, what we keep to remember the miles between us this time of year.
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redux: bringing home the tree

From last year, as we plan this year’s tree cutting…

rosemary trees

There was never much time for thoughtful reflection all those Christmases when my children were young. Baking, making things, cutting lino for our annual letterpress cards, school parties (including at least two for which my children had promised their teachers I’d provide gingerbread boys for the entire class and then forgot to tell me until bedtime the night before…), the Carol Ships party at Edith Iglauer’s house when we’d all stand on her deck and watch fishing boats strung with lights float by with carolers singing over the dark water. I remember sitting on her low couch afterwards with 3 children sleeping across my lap. I felt things intensely but didn’t seem to have time to think about what they meant, what each thing meant when it was happening, and now it’s part of my vast archive of memories, and I have time to summon up those years and remember them.

Today we cut our Christmas tree. We used to do this on December 23rd or 24th, bringing the tree in on the morning of the 24th to decorate. Some years the tree came from our woods, a weedy fir in danger of being crowded out by the bigger neighbours. Other years we downloaded a permit to cut a tree from under the power lines. We walk there fairly often and keep our eye out for likely candidates. The trees grow to a certain height and then the crews come to cut them and shred them to keep the line clear. This is where we went this year, wanting to have a tree home early as there are several events over the days leading up to Christmas. We had a few in mind. I liked this one’s bendy wood near the top:

bendy wood

This one was clearly a favourite of the Roosevelt elk that roam the lines.

chosen by elk

But then we found the one—

the one

—that we knew would be beautiful dressed in all our old ornaments: the glass stars made by our friend June; the wallpaper trees studded with glittered macaroni; the Chinese paper lanterns sent to John’s family from his grandmother in England shortly after they’d emigrated in the 1950s; the felt birds and wooden fish; lumpy angels; string balls formed over balloons, now collapsed. In short, a lifetime of saving, of storing away a season of memories in a box in a dark closet. This year’s tree is in a bucket of water in the woodshed to be brought inside on the 24th so that we can decorate her with Angelica and the ghosts of all those who’ve helped in the past, some of them gone. Last Christmas it was Forrest, Manon, and Arthur, joined by Angie, and the year before, Brendan, Cristen, and Kelly —and the very beginnings of Henry. Yesterday Brendan sent a video of the children decorating their tree and the most poignant footage of Henry trying to find a way to place a piece of a hairdryer on the tree. He’s 1 and not entirely clear on the concept of ornaments yet. But given what goes on our tree, maybe he’s not far off.

I can see our tree waiting as I work at the kitchen counter, so green against the wall of firewood. Already a squirrel has raced along its branches. I kept peeking out as I rolled out shortbread fish and stars and the special ones cut into trees and studded with rosemary leaves (as Ophelia told Hamlet, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts…”, and she of all people knew about herbs and their latent power). I was listening to satellite radio as I cut and baked and found myself in tears hearing a Richard Thompson song I’d never known:

In the old cold embers of the year
When joy and comfort disappear
I search around to find her
I’m a hundred miles behind her
The open road whispered in her ear

And she never could resist a winding road…

Somehow it seemed to be about our tree as I walked behind John back to the vehicle. You can’t see our Element. It’s beyond the bend in that winding road. Joy hasn’t disappeared but it’s cold out and we need to remember that trees come in during the shortest days to remind us of what comes next. The light returning, little by little, and if we take care of our fires, the embers will last.

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redux: the ghosts of Christmas past

In the spirit of Christmas music and memories, and because I am an inveterate recycler, I am reposting a little meditation from December of 2015. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

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I loved the moment in A Christmas Carol (which might have been my father’s favourite movie) when the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Ebenezer Scrooge’s hand and flies with him over London, out into the countryside where Scrooge sees his younger self, lonely and abandoned at boarding school, then rescued by his beloved sister. There’s a joyous party with the portly and kind Mr. Fezziwig. Scrooge sees himself falling in love with a young penniless woman and then extracting himself from that early relationship when he becomes more interested in commerce than love.

Dickens knew something about Christmas. It is truly a time of ghosts. The gatherings of the years, over the years, the parties, the sad occasions when the recently-dead were more present than anyone else (it seemed so to me, at least), the sound of bells in the night (which turned out to be the windchime near our bedroom window but which had its own magical moment as we listened and wondered), the arrival of guests in snow, the bringing in of the tree to dress in all the finery hidden away for the rest of the year, the scent of oranges, bowls of nuts and foil-wrapped chocolates,  the stockings miraculously filled overnight and waiting by the woodstove, the music  — Chieftains’ Bells of Dublin, Bruce Cockburn, silvery harp versions of all the old carols, Stephen Chatman’s A Chatman Christmas for choral splendor, Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Light of the Stable with the transcendent Emmylou Harris, oh, and  so many more…more songs, more ghosts. I love the season but know that there are always moments when a shade casts its shadow in the bright kitchen and the Christmases of the past crowd into my heart. making me sit for a moment to honour their memory. “These are the shadows of things that have been,” the Ghost tells Scrooge and I always cried, because it seemed so deeply true. No matter how the years accumulate with their rich promises, their gifts (an early morning Skype date with my grand-daughter Kelly: when I was saying goodbye, I recited a line from a book I gave her the last time I saw her — “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” — and her dad said, “She’s going to her bookshelf to get the book…”), there are always the losses, the boy in the classroom with his book, abandoned. The love cast aside for whatever reason. The darkness.

This morning I’ve been preparing jars of marinated olives, Gaeta and Cerignola olives with slivers of our own garlic, Meyer lemons (from the tree in the sunroom), branches of rosemary and thyme from the garden, red wine vinegar and lovely green olive oil. Oh, and little dried chilies. When I finished all this and cut some paper for labels, I thought how the olives looked so beautiful in their clear jars, ready to be gifted, and opened by friends in their own time. This will be the first year olives find their way into the Christmas bags but so many people don’t eat gluten or sugar these days so these at least are free of those particular additives. But this afternoon I’ll bake the shortbread with rosemary (for remembrance) and the gingerbread boys with their Smartie buttons and dragee eyes, the same ones I’ve made for the last 30 years. Because there are ghosts and there are ghosts, the shadows of things that have been, and when I listen to Burgess Meredith recite the spine-tingling Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil” (“I sing of a night in Bethlehem,/A night as bright as dawn./I sing of that night in Bethlehem/The night the Word was born.”) followed by Kevin Conneff singing it in Irish, I’ll want shortbread and a glass of sherry, the memory of lying in my bed in darkness, waiting for morning and the stockings and carols, and hearing bells as clear as anything.

olives

redux:“…the bells the children could hear…”

This was posted last year, on Christmas Eve. But with the scent of shortbread in the kitchen and this Santa waiting to be hung on the wall in the dining area, it seems particularly seasonal today to remember the bells, the trees, and the arrival of those you love.

santa

I first heard Dylan Thomas’s recording of A Child’s Christmas in Wales when I was a teenager. It might have been my favourite high-school English teacher George Kelly who introduced me to that iconic tale. It struck a chord, as it was meant to. (George Kelly was the first person who told me I could be a writer.) I remember making batiked Christmas cards inspired by the Ellen Raskin woodcuts

ellen raskin.jpg

that illustrated the New Directions edition of the, well, not quite a poem, unless one calls it a prose poem. A tale might be the best term for it after all, a summoning, complete with fire and music and cups of good cheer.

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

My teen years were filled with yearning. I wanted a life that included beautiful poems, handmade cards, Christmas traditions of nuts and chocolates in pretty foil wraps, even a small ceremony of the tree itself. I wouldn’t have put it like that and that does sound a little shallow, doesn’t it? But I wanted a kind of dense accumulation of Christmases so that each lived within the memory of the ones before it, extending as far back as the first Christmas. I’m not a Christian but I am willing to believe in a sort of miracle this time of year. That a newly-born child might be invested with hope. That stars might be read for their guidance and meaning.

So today we are busy with the work of bringing in our tree from its resting place in the woodshed, bringing out the boxes of ornaments, readying ourselves for the small rituals we have always observed. One of them is the hanging of Brendan’s Santa in the dining area. I imagine he was painted in about five minutes, in kindergarten, and done with the least amount of effort. A few quick brushes of paint, an artful beard, a decision to include a small sack of gifts (looking not unlike a turkey drumstick, or a club), and there you have it: Santa in an insouciant mood, his belt buckle the artist’s own signature.

I can tell by the cold draft at my back that the tree has come in. I can even smell it, the fresh sap of a Douglas fir, the scent of the mountain brought down to a house in the woods where the ceremonies continue. One year John and I were awake early, waiting for the children who were maybe too old to want to race out for their stockings before light. And John said, “What’s that? I think I hear bells.” I listened, and yes, I thought I heard bells too. But it was the metal wind-chimes turning in the wintry air. Or was it?

I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them.

When I came downstairs this morning, I heard the last part of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, an annual tradition on the CBC on Christmas Eve day. All that lush language, all that careful detail collected to make an idealized compilation of Christmases past, complete with house fires, ghosts, postmen, and snow. That teenaged girl was listening, as I listened, though I hardly needed to: I know the tale by heart. Last night, driving back from an early supper at the local pub after collecting Angelica from her flight from Victoria, I was already hearing my favourite part.

Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night.

A few lights blinking on the other side of Sakinaw Lake, the most beautiful stars, and the smoke from our fire waiting for us at home.

magpie gathering

book and linen

Half the charm of the magpie system of shopping is that one comes across unexpectedly pretty and festive-looking things for so little money; in the window of the Empire Shop in Sloane Street there is a pyramid of white candy sugar in rocky lumps, so irresistibly decorative that one would like to hang them on the tree; and inside the shop, by-passing the chain-dairy goods which have somehow strayed in, are dark and dazzly genuine Indian chutneys, garnet-bright Jamaican guava jelly, English quince, Scottish rowan, and squat jars of shiny lemon curd.

The other day I was looking for a book on my cookbook shelves and found instead my beautiful Folio Society edition of Elizabeth David’s Christmas. It’s cover and interior decorations are by Sophie MacCarthy who makes brussels sprouts and sliced red cabbage look like jewels, not to mention Mandarin oranges and chestnuts. It was a good thing to read for an hour by the fire (I am still recovering from a cracked tailbone…), thinking of my own Christmas plans. I love the season, its capacity for plenitude and conviviality, and how it can bring out our best selves. The selves that are willing to suspend disbelief and to allow generosity and warmth into our hearts. Ours is not a Christmas of big ticket items. I remember once putting little soaps shaped like ducks and new mittens in the children’s stockings, along with oranges and chocolate, and how thrilled they were. And that has always been a kind of guiding spirit.

Just now I was thinking about the baking I’ll do this weekend and whether it’s too early to make buttercrunch (which has a way of disappearing far too quickly). I love the smell of shortbread, particularly the pans of trees with fresh rosemary. This year I thought I’d add finely grated lime zest too.

gathering

Elizabeth David’s books have been on my shelves since I was 19. Well, not all of them, but the ones I treasure: Summer Cooking, French Provincial Cooking, and this Christmas beauty. I don’t necessarily read them for the recipes but for the way she describes food, the way she praises a simple dish well made, and for her eye for what’s important. That Christmas shopping can be a magpie gathering: yes, that’s exactly how I do it. I buy small things and find ways to put them together. Pretty bowls from the Coombs market enroute to Long Beach in October will accompany jars of the olives I buy in bulk at the Mediterranean Market on Commercial Drive in Vancouver and marinate in olive oil, red wine vinegar, slices of lemon, lots of our homegrown garlic, and stems of rosemary from the pots on the deck. I love the linen tea-towels available here on the Coast, made in North Vancouver by Rain Goose Textiles. (They’re hard to give up because they’re so bright and original.) Jars of jams and jellies made in late summer when everything is ripe all at once. Old baskets or tins to carry them from our house to yours, with love.