Exits and Entrances, NaPoWriMo, Day 23

Monday Morning Musings:

“We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

–Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

 “Were there words beyond which they could never touch, or did all that is possible enter their consciousness? They could not tell. .

E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall”

(the conductor says)

as the world streams by

the rushing tracks,

clackety, clackety, clackety clack,

the engine hums, it’s zhhhumy zhumms,

my reflection in the window sways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am traveling there

but does part of me stay

(a train beat away)

entering here

exiting there?

 

We walk–and

spring is a promise whispered over a wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Please silence your cell phones and other devices.”

(the announcer says)

before the start of the play,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a somewhat dated farce,

act two and three are clever

better than the first

the play within a play from backstage, reversed

the stage rearranged, the set turned around

so, front is back

a player tumbles and falls,

and we see it all–

again, as the troupe performs months later–

each actor then has two roles,

and the timing and action is right

but as a whole,

well. . . it was OK

we both say

and the tickets were free—

something to see

with excellent seats

in America’s oldest theater,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so now it’s later

and we walk and talk

see spring a-springing,

the birds still singing,

eat a giant bowl of fries

(in a very noisy bar room)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

then wander back to cats and home,

to see the daffodils still in bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day–

another play.

(still no stops at City Hall)

“The kitchen is small,”

says one man to another,

“But the apartment looks out at the rocks, and

the water is right there.”

“Maybe Rehoboth would be better,”

The other man murmurs

he has to stay in New Jersey.

We exit, a bit early,

before finding out if they make a plan.

“A little shifty,” that man,

(my husband says)

as we walk out into the day—

where now spring is more than whispering,

and we say, yes, this weather, please stay.

 

We walk through Washington Square Park

I insist some roots look like feet

though they’d find it hard to tap a beat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trees are blooming in pink and white

Washington Square Park, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and people are out to see the sight

of them, feel the gentle heat,

sun on their faces,

filling the outdoor spaces

and even the walls shout of spring

Mural by David Guinn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

while the birds trill and sing—

(“Phoebe Phoebe, sings the chickadee,

“Peter Peter” the tufted titmouse calls,

and the mockingbird repeats them all.)

Spring fever all around

Penn’s green country town.

Pennsylvania Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please silence your cells phones—again,

the play is about to begin,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and thought-provoking it is,

the playwright’s words are his,

but “a fantasia inspired” from Forster’s book

though people and countries are never named

other than with letters,

Country X and Country Y, could be any nation

the characters not assigned by the writer to any gender, race,

or sexual orientation,

F, R, H, M, D, Q, J, B

plus, a mosquito and a gecko–

and, of course, there are those echoes. . .

we hear them, reverberating through now, the ages,

all around us–

and on stage, thus–

F speaks of the people in the darkness,

Dr. B is arrested for a crime he did not commit,

and G breaks the fourth wall to talk to us

questioning,

and yes, it’s a bit uncomfortable–

Are we supposed to answer her out loud?

I wonder, and are we different from another crowd?

 

Later, I say,

“I’d like to see that play all over again with another cast.”

How different would it be to see people of a different race,

or gender, play the roles we just saw?

Because, I think, we must draw

pictures in our minds—leap to conclusions—

have preconceptions that we cannot help but make,

and would it break them–

somewhat–

if what we saw was not,

well, exactly the same.

I imagine this part of the writer’s aim.

(I learn there is a hashtag, #ChenMindFuck)

but my mind is rather more struck

than fucked I think,

and we have much to discuss over food and drink.

Can one be friends with one’s oppressor?

The idea leads to variations and degrees of power

not only of gender and race, but

CEO and factory worker, student and professor,

Black Lives Matter and #MeToo,

seeing things from another’s view. . .

The server brings more bread,

I wonder what lies ahead.

At Tria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walk and talk back to the train,

ideas swirling in my brain.

“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall.”

but time flows through spaces and goes to places

unknown,

calls–

Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.

 

 

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to use sound. “The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By the Sea We Gather, NaPoWriMo, Day 16

Monday Morning Musings:

“My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Secret of the Sea”

“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”

–L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

 

By the sea, we gather, we four

full of longing to share our secrets–

no special sequences–

but in the way of friends

they flow like waves, rolling to the shore

tumbling, one after another

silvery shadows and thrilling pulses

visions of things almost seen

things that are and things that might be

 

We embrace and sit in this lovely space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

this place in which my friend has found welcome shelter

a temporary place for body, if not heart,

a house between homes,

a loan

where she and her husband have lived

between and around unexpected circumstances—

well, life is chances,

no smooth sailing on this ocean–

sometimes we turn about

sometimes we tack into the wind

begin again,

navigate through a choppy sea

till we are free

to sail calmly and be

 

So, we

sit in this interim home

where we can hear the water play

(come this way, stay)

and seagulls laugh as they fly about

black-tipped white wings sing in the sky

with the sun glowing warm and high

and the wind sighs from sea and land

spindrift covers windows, cars, my hand. . .

 

is held out to my friends

we gently hold each other’s hearts

apart too often to know the everyday annoyances

of ailing mothers and troubled kids,

roosted egos, wandering ids–

we talk of husbands and silly cats,

all of the this and all of the that

and move from living room to kitchen

pitch in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(though it is all prepared)

take our chairs

and over quiche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we relax some more, release

and feel a bit at peace. . .

 

to venture out to see some history of place and space

a concrete ship, a lighthouse, a bunker, the beach,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

where we walk a bit and feel

the sand beneath our feet–

in this moment, life is sweet,

away from troubles and toxic tweets,

this faux-summer day

holds us in its sway

I am mesmerized by the tumbling waves

the ocean takes, the ocean saves,

(à bientôt, inside, I say)

as we turn and walk away

 

back to the not-vacation house

where my friend offers us food and drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and we sink

into a relaxed state,

where troubles abate,

as we talk and drift

(eyes open, close, open again)

the golden sun beats down through window panes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and slowly in a ball of fire, sinks

extinguished in the sea

 

we see it after we’ve walked

(ten miles one friend exclaims)

heading for a restaurant, but too long a wait,

no debate

and none of us that hungry anyway

no need to stay

so over pizza we watch Letterman, Seinfeld, and Obama

wishing we could get rid of the current nightmare, drama

and farce, in every moment, tweets and cheats–

the outside world, outside this place–

but even here the temperature drops

and the sun hides the next day, stops

her summer-teasing ways,

and in the morning, we watch branches sway

and the tom-catting chairs dance and prance

out on the deck

and the windows are specked

with salt and rain

we hear the sea

calling. . .

but let it be

 

to breakfast or brunch

(perhaps call it lunch)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and linger around the table,

unable,

unwilling to part

our lives and thoughts

tumbled like my friend’s sea glass

smoothed and polished by laughter and tears,

friends together,

friends apart

friends in joy, in troubles,

friends for years

we’ve shared our secrets here by the sea

now it’s back to reality,

(we sigh)

we must do this again

spend

time together,

let’s do this, friends–

time flows and bends,

(an arc)

and ripples like the sea

and on it our friendship sails

(an ark)

so, we’ll journey together, and then—

well, we’ll see.

 

 

 

I’m off prompt for Day 16, NaPoWriMo.

Unusual formatting due to WP gremlins and a cat sitting on my keyboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.napowrimo.net/day-sixteen-5/

Here is Home: Haibun, NaPoWriMo, Day 12

Here, are two, then three, then four, then two again. Here, atop a settling foundation and slightly slanting floors, are family dinners, friends, love, and tears. Here, the venerable oak tree stands tall, shading and shadowing, though the swing set that stood beside it is long gone–and here, decades-old daffodil bulbs still bloom. Generations of mockingbirds have sung through summer nights perched on the new greenery of aged trees. Here is home, where amidst clutter and dreams, cats gaze from windows–then look within.

 

blooms and snowflakes fall

drift through Earth’s revolutions–

ghosts sing to living

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s NaPoWriMo  prompt was to write a haibun “that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live.”

 

 

 

Time Tumbles

Monday Morning Musings:

 

When I was young I played on the beach with my sister

we built sand castles and moats

and body-surfed the waves

peaches and plums dripped with sticky sweetness under the summer sun

for years, I imagined their taste mixed with bits of sandy grit–

memories held in mind’s drawers, sliding in and out,

tumbling in time

 

My love and I walk the beach hand and hand

summer-warm skin, golden-toasted

bodies young, futures imagined

(but not)

lazy days and languid nights

hot kisses dancing across flesh

burning, tumbling in time

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We walk the beach holding a daughter’s hand,

we walk the beach holding two daughters’ hands,

watch them build sand castles and body surf in the waves

we get hugs and kisses

ice cream melts down faces and onto summer dresses

laughter and tears when storms come

and time tumbles

 

We walk the boardwalk with grown children

19221498_1580455775301013_8477924527879669761_o

nieces and nephews run ahead and behind

and on top of railings

(Get down from there, Sammy!)

talk of family and this and that

warm summer days

warm memories

ice cream that melts and drips down our fingers

 

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(lick it off)

the sun sets

and the ferris wheel spins,

the moon smiles down on us

11884100_1032434843436445_159769580174888310_o

 

I hear the ocean sing

waves tumbling

like time

 

I hold my love’s hand as we walk across the sand

the tide pulls, ebbs and flows

time tumbles again and again

 

 

Yesterday was our 39th anniversary. We went to the beach for a few hours and then out to dinner. A wonderful day!

 

The Beach, a Memory: NaPoWriMo

Dimply in the dapply light,

she danced in joy, my little sprite

the sea breeze tossed her springly hair

while seabirds squawckled in the air

she skipped upon the golden sand

till her father took her by the hand,

together they walked to wavy sea

(tumbling, white-capped, spumey sea)

where in a Jersey summer rite,

she jumped right in, such pure delight

 

Day 18, NaPoWriMo. The prompt was to incorporate neologisms, made-up words.

This poem is based on my memory of the first time our older daughter saw the ocean.

The River’s Song

Monday Morning Musings:

 “Go forth, and the whores cackle!

Where women are, are many words;

Let them go hopping with their hackle [finery]!

Where geese sit, are many turds.

The Castle of Perseverance, 15th Century morality play

 

“The river sings and sings on.

 

There is a true yearning to respond to

The singing river and the wise rock.”

–Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”

Full text  here.

IMG_4251

What is the song of the river?

though I listen,

noisy are the thoughts unbidden

that flow within my brain,

meandering tributaries, bearing gifts

some chaff, some worthy

But hush, listen.

 

What is the song of the river

as it gently laps against the rocks?

A song of history

from its birth in Ice Age glaciers

to its passage to the sea?

A song of fish, of shad,

of Lenni Lenape

then European settlers,

migration of fish, migration of people

cycles repeated through time.

IMG_4270 2

What is the song of the river?

A song of birds in flight?

of cargo ships and Huck Finn rafts

Commerce and recreation,

the bustling colonial port,

capital of the early nation

still thrives,

though not as before

when cargo came by ship—

tea, rum, wine, tobacco, and people–

and passage to and from New Jersey was by ferry.

Now there are highways, bridges, and planes.

What is the song of the river?

A song of history

of battles fought

of soldiers dead

of memorials, reenactments, remembering

of fossils and relics.

Generations and regeneration,

children squealing with joy at butterflies

of gardens resurrected

of couples talking

of men and women jogging steps

of people seeking Pokemon,

yes, that here, too.

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And what of the geese?

And what of their turds?

IMG_4248

Yes, they’re underfoot,

chased by children and men in carts

And what of my words?

Do they cackle and crackle

like old whores?

Or do they stream like the river,

my song of musings?

I’m reminded of the history of women

who wrote,

long ago,

poetry, history, and letters,

Milcah Martha Moore, Hannah Griffits, Susanna Wright,

and others

who shared their work with other women

and some men, too.

It’s a song that carries to this day,

along both sides of this river, the Delaware.

 

What is the song of the river?

The sound of people celebrating

though we cannot see the water

from the festival site whose name pays tribute to it.

But we sit with friends

and we talk and we sample wine

Our words flow like the river

singing a song of friendship

and joy to be alive on a summer day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Further Information:

Red Bank Battlefield

Merril D. Smith, The World of the American Revolution: A Daily Life Encyclopedia 

New Jersey Wine Events

A Day at the Beach, with a Side of Guilt

Monday Morning Musings:

IMG_4147.JPG

“Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,

so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”

William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 60”

 

“The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.”

–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

 

Fantastically, wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration,

a plan to get my mom to the beach for the day.

A notion hatched by H.

on Saturday afternoon, for the next day.

Younger daughter and I already had plans

because we like things set in advance,

definite, not tentative,

BUT

we decide to go along with this wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration idea,

despite the weather forecast.

Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm?

(My first question to H.)

Texts and phone calls back and forth.

 “Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans.”

(Daughter says to me.)

So plans evolve.

We’ll travel in the morning,

have lunch there

and return home early to avoid the traffic.

Husband and I will still get together

with daughter and her husband later for dinner.

A horrible, wonderful, wildly improbable idea,

a beach day for my mom.

 

Three cars from three destinations travel to Ocean City, NJ.

It’s a Seinfeld episode,

or any sitcom,

the human comedy,

the comedy of errors

What could possibly go wrong?

IMG_4146

 

My husband and I are the first to arrive in Ocean City.

We drive around, looking for a place to park the car.

We park.

The downpour begins.

I text the others

We’re here.

We’re sitting in the car

Waiting for the rain to stop.

Trying to be optimistic.

Oh, I hear thunder now.

Daughter replies

There’s a flood watch in effect.

All day.

But the skies clear,

the sun comes out

and my husband and I walk to the beach.

The sun is shining.

The beach looks washed and clean.

It is beautiful.

Daughter and her husband arrive.

They have met

H., her family, and my mom,

who have decided to walk on the boardwalk.

They will have lunch there.

We have packed our lunch,

but I expect we’ll see them soon.

Daughter and I walk on the beach,

walk and talk,

gazing at the ocean

looking at the gulls,

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watching people,

the little boy who wanders in circles,

shovel in hand,

smile on face,

I keep expecting H. to text me

so we can help them

get my mom onto the beach.

I don’t want them to miss this beautiful day.

But no text.

We return to our beach chairs.

Daughter sits down with half a PB&J sandwich,

she takes one bite,

I hear a scream,

a gull has snatched the sandwich from her hand.

Scary, but kind of amazing.

We wait for H.,

and watch dark clouds moving in.

We wonder where they are,

she hasn’t answered the texts.

It’s getting close to when we planned to leave.

A beach checker comes by.

Do you have beach tags?

We don’t.

We decide to pack up,

and wait for H and family on the boardwalk.

Daughter sees them then–of course.

H. has paid for a special wheelchair contraption to get my mom onto the beach.

My mom can’t get into it.

So my mom holds H’s arm on one side

mine on the other, and

we begin a slow walk over sand,

a few feet that seem like miles.

H’s husband sets up their umbrella and chairs,

and it begins to rain.

My husband and daughter have packed up our things.

We leave my mom with H’s family on the beach,

feeling guilty,

but it stops raining.

at least for a time.

 

In the evening, after showers and rest

my husband and I eat pizza and drink wine

with our daughter and her husband,

dog and cat sitting with us companionably.

We watch an old Star Trek movie,

it also involves fantastically, wildly impossible ideas,

but we know Captain Picard and his crew will triumph over

the creepy Borg Queen,

love, friendship, kindness, and creativity

trump evil,

humanity will be saved

once again,

a comforting thought.

I haven’t heard yet what happened

with H., her family, and my mom.

I hope they had a great time on the beach.

It’s a fantastically, improbable idea

but one worthy of consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Morning Musings:

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“Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

“Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul.”

–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 

Nine people killed in a Charleston Church

on a June day last year,

forty-nine killed in an Orlando club

a week ago this June

innocent people going about life,

eat, pray, love

dance to the music

black, white, Latino, gay, trans, and straight

hearts that loved

no longer beat

no more inhaling and exhaling

sending breath into the air

in and out

inhale

exhale

 

We began as creatures of the sea

perhaps a sea sponge, 640 million years ago

or perhaps a comb-jelly drifting through the ocean,

we emerged from the sea

a cross between fish and reptile,

walking as if on crutches,

moving between sea and land

what compelled us,

creatures of earth

to leave the sea

to breath the air

inhale

exhale

 

And yet, the sea calls to us still

a longing for the rhythm of life,

rocking on the waves

that soothing lullaby of motion,

we tell tales of mermaids and selkies

creatures of both sea and land,

fantasy, or secret desire

to live between these worlds?

We’ve been sprinkled with stardust,

sparkles in our genes,

perhaps we have relatives on distant worlds

who swim in other oceans

whose breath sparkles as they

inhale

exhale

 

My husband and I spent the day on the beach

we walked, leaving footprints behind us

that filled with water and vanished

removing all signs that we had strolled that path

we splashed in the surf,

causing ripples in the water,

like those we create each day, existing

rippling time,

watching the seabirds soar above us

their wings wide and white,

I thought of angels,

like those shielding the mourners in Orlando,

like those who stood at the funeral of Matthew Shepard.

I watched those birds,

wondering about the fathers and mothers

protecting their young ones

do they listen for their breaths

as they

inhale

exhale?

 

We read our books

and watched the waves,

a beautiful day,

the sky bluer than the sea

almost cloudless as we arrived,

but then clouds grew

blooming like flowers,

floating like creatures in the sea

or like the frozen breath of giant beings

formed as they

inhale

exhale

 

Father’s Day,

neither of us with a father any longer,

but he a father, and I a mother,

our children began as cells, multiplying,

growing arms, legs, brains

swimming in an amniotic sea

listening to my heart beat

and my breathing

in and out

till they emerged,

tiny and perfect,

and breathed on their own

and walked upon the land

inhale

exhale

 

Do souls cross the ages

as clouds cross the sky?

do we wander through space

after we die?

do we visit oceans on distant worlds?

Do we breathe,

absorbing stardust and infinity

becoming luminous, as we

inhale

exhale?

 

As oceans are made up of drops

so each one of us is a drop in the universe

each drop is inconsequential,

each drop is unique and important,

the universe is composed of such paradoxes

and so we float and swim

and we drift, we walk on crutches

and we fight to survive

we breath

inhale

exhale

but when the sea calls to us

we return

carried by tide and time

to the sea that gave us life.

 

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Ocean City, NJ June 19, 2016

 

On Saturday night, “Father’s Day Eve,” I called it, I made pizza, and we watched the movie Cloud Atlas, based on the book by David Mitchell. Somehow we missed it when it was in the theaters. It’s not for those who like straight forward narrative, but we loved it. I would definitely watch it again. All of the main actors play multiple roles, changing gender and ethnicity. I haven’t read the novel, but I have read David Mitchel’s The Bone Clocks, which also told multiple interconnected stories over time.

Looking back, I discovered that my Father’s Day post last year discussed my father, his life, his death, and how he loved to take us out to eat. I also discussed the Charleston shootings. If you want to read it, you can find it here.

 

The idea of animals walking as if they used crutches, came from this article.

You can read more about the angels here.

 

 

 

Rhythms of Summer, Rhythms of Life

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings

(One of those days, Folks!)

The sound of life is measured by its own rhythms. At its most elemental, there is the rhythm of the heartbeat. Parents are reassured and then overwhelmed upon hearing that first fetal heartbeat. A lover, quiet after the escalating drumming of two hearts, is comforted to hear the steady beat of his or her beloved’s heart as they lie together, one resting a head upon the other’s chest. Animals find heartbeats soothing, too–my cat cuddles against me in the night. My heartbeat calms him, and the rhythm of his purrs comforts me.

When the heart stops beating, the body dies. The pushing and pulsing of blood through our bodies is necessary for us to live. [As an aside–because this is the way my mind works– have you noticed that in popular culture, people kill vampires by putting a stake through their hearts, but zombies have to have their brains stabbed or heads cut off? Is it because vampires feed on blood, but zombies eat bodies? Add to list of things to ponder.]

The earth also has a rhythm. Watching the ocean from the beach, I’m often mesmerized by simply watching the waves as they crash upon the shore. There is something hypnotic about that rhythm and the rolling of the waves, as well as the beauty of the water catching the light and creating a tumble of white, silver, blue, and green and spraying rainbows into the air.

Summer seems to have its own special rhythm. This summer has been a busy one for us, marked by rhythms of life and life’s passages—one daughter’s graduation from graduate school, our other daughter’s wedding, and my husband’s retirement.

The song, “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof, has become a sort of cliché at weddings. (For the record, it wasn’t played at either of our daughters’ weddings.) But like all clichés, it was once fresh and new, and the words ring true. At each wedding, I did wonder to myself as I gazed at the beautiful bride, “Is this the little girl I carried?”

The chorus of the song, reminds us of the passage of time, and the rhythm of day to night, season to season, months to years:

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset,

Swiftly fly the years.

One season following another.

Laden with happiness and tears.

As well as life changes, I’ve been caught up in work–finishing one book project, beginning two more, and writing test items. Testing is big business. Still, no matter the activities, summer marches to a slow, lazy beat that is different from the brisk upbeat of autumn and the solemn dirge of winter. Even though we’ve yet to make it to the beach this summer to watch those mesmerizing waves, we’ve spent time outside—

Watching a Bastille Day event at Eastern State Penitentiary, a silly hour of song, dance, and jokes hosted by “Edith Piaf” of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret. (“Marie Antoinette yells, “Let them eat TastyKakes,” before hundreds of them are tossed to the crowd below.)

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Drinking wine, eating pizza, and watching a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at a local New Jersey winery,

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And enjoying the bounty of local farms.

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This is why New Jersey is known as the Garden State. Yes, it’s more than highways and the Jersey Shore.

In the summer I long to sit on the beach or on a shaded porch and spend hours reading a novel, simply relaxing. I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, but I still have some weeks left before summer marches on. Soon, its hazy, lazy-feeling days will merge into the crisp, clear, get-back-to-work fall. Then winter will come–and instead of longing to be outside, I will want to huddle under a blanket and read a novel. I’ll want to turn on lights to find my way out of the darkness, to eat hearty soups with homemade bread, and to wish again for languid summer days. I have work to do now, but perhaps a nap is in order. It’s all part of life’s rhythms, and after all, it is summer time.

In Vino Veritas

“Wine is Sunlight held together by water.”
–Galileo

This past Sunday was my birthday. To celebrate, my husband and I went on a trolley tour of 5 local wineries. Wineries in S. Jersey? Yes, indeed. There are close to 50 wineries in the state of New Jersey–and more appear each year.

Two Bridges Wine Trolley Tour

Two Bridges Wine Trolley Tour

The trolley tour was a fun way to visit several wineries in one day—and to sample their wines!  The tour lasted about six hours, and it included a lunch stop. We began and ended at the Cedarvale Winery, where we were each given a tote bag with dividers in it to hold 6 wine bottles, a wine tasting glass, and admonitions to drink plenty of water, eat, and pace ourselves throughout the day. Although each winery produces a variety of wines—white, red, sweet–each winery/vineyard has its own unique character and wines. Some of the places, such as Heritage Vineyards, the oldest winery in the group we visited, are wineries that found a new way to sustain family farmlands.

The wineries we visited were:

Auburn Road Vineyard and Winery, Pilesgrove, NJ
Cedarvale Winery, Logan Township, NJ
Heritage Vineyards, Mullica Hill, NJ
Monroeville Vineyard and Winery, Monroeville, NJ
Wagonhouse Winery, Swedesboro, NJ

It was a particularly fun time to visit the wineries because each was decorated for the holiday season. Some of the tasting rooms had fireplaces and included warmed spiced apple wine in their samples of wine to taste. But I imagine the tours would be fun at any time of year.

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At Auburn Road Winery

We learned that sweet, fruity wines are very popular in S. Jersey. Although they do not particularly appeal to me, I’m pleased they are made from the locally grown fruit—apples, blueberries, peaches, and even tomatoes. Wine is indeed sunlight held together by water.

In the musical, The Sound of Music, the oldest Von Trapp daughter, Liesl, who is “sixteen going on seventeen,” sings, “I’d like to stay and taste my first champagne.” I don’t remember at what age I first tasted wine. I imagine I was a teenager, and it was Manischewitz at a Passover Seder–which probably kept me from drinking wine for a long time. During college we had some wine and cheese nights. We ate some good cheese from the local farmer’s market, and some mostly not-so-good cheap wine from the local state store. We were young, foolish, and knew nothing about wine.

My parents were not really wine drinkers. We didn’t have wine in the house regularly. Perhaps they drank some in restaurants, or had some on special occasions. It was the era of cocktails—not that my parents drank cocktails at home either. (If you read my blog regularly, then you probably know food has always been my family’s drug of choice. We love to eat.  When we’re not eating, we’re talking about food and eating, or we’re planning what we’re going to eat next. Well. . .maybe that’s just me.) But when my parents went out, I assume they drank cocktails. They used to go to one nightclub in Dallas, and when their vocalist friend, Enrico, was in town, they would take my little sister and me to see him. My dad ordered “Shirley Temples” for us, and we felt grown up.

So wine. Yeah, I enjoy it, but I’m not an expert. I don’t have a wine cellar, like some dear friends have. I don’t order cases of my favorite wines. But I suppose I’ve developed a more sophisticated palate over the years. I’ve also learned that red wine and dark chocolate are pretty amazing together. (See? It all comes back to food.)

In vino veritas? I don’t know that wine has brought me truth, but perhaps the truth is out there. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)  In any case, you might want to have a glass of wine while you ponder truth, or the meaning of life.  Or you might simply want to say, L’chaim, to life, as you raise your glass—and then eat, of course.  Thanks for reading!