Is there any other kind? What kind of joy can you bottle? Except maybe wine. I often sit on the sidelines at social gatherings, happily, in fact, watching others laugh their hearts out, wondering what it’s all about. Laughter, is as vital as air, but elusive to me. Observing, learning, recording, dissecting. But with time, patience, perseverance, and a kind of envious exhaustion, I’ve learned the just stay with the mood, let it happen, even if I still have no idea what or why "it" is.
"It" is this– Tonight was a petal of a blossom of the cherry tree of life, fluttering elusively, flipping, dipping, slowly, inevitable to the ground. But I was on that magic carpet, riding the soft, contented pink cushion of the petal, curving, zipping, dizzy with glee as it floated joyfully to it’s fruition, and perfect demise- the end of the evening.
I had dinner with some very good friends. One in particular, accompanies me on many fantastic forays into aesthetic Disneyland; food, wine, poetry, beauty, music. Joe is he. He and I are co-conspirators, floating side by side, guiding each other deeper into ourselves. The other two are neighbors, but oh so much more. Serendipitously, they fell into my life, at least that’s the way I see it, when they bought the house next door 8 years ago.
Summer is approaching, the pressures of time give in a bit, the wine waits for our attention. So, I threw together a meal to accompany a special bottle of wine, a 2000 Turley Zinfandel. I really did throw it together. Serendipity. I like it that way, the accidental perfection for which I can take no credit. I went for a reliable standby: grilled beef fillet mignon, Mache (an heirloom salad green, nutty) and Watercress salad (with a garlicky sweet, nutty dressing), sauteed Portabella mushrooms and Vidallia onions and a hearty loaf of sourdough bread. Some wine and food were meant to meet their consummation in tandem.
The fillet, with mushrooms, onions and horseradish sauce, and the Turley, were made for each other. Turley Zinfandel, a limited release, subscription only wine, is audacious, muscular and carelessly voluptuous on the tongue. As for the meat, the creature form which we stole it blessed our bodies tonight with it’s life. It was succulent and full flavored. The food was wonderful, the wine spectacularly memorable. But the real chemistry was in the company.
Paul is a story teller, with countless hilarious accounts of his life. He’s cute, engineer smart (in a boyish way), wise, sexy, and married to Mary, who is brilliant, wry, artistic and a perfect balance for Paul, in humor and life. He and Mary will finish each other’s sentences, and also contradict each other.
It’s even fun to watch them garden together over the fence. Her:"What the heck are you doin’? I told you ta put it over there!" Him:"I thought you said the rose over there and this hosta over here!" Her:"No, you dufus, I told you three times, the rose over here! How may times do I have to say it before you get it through your head. Roses don’t grow in shade." and on. Or, he’ll start up his "power tool" "weed wacker" and start edging the grass, then I’ll hear Her:"NOOOO, not my creeping thyme garden, that’s not grass!!!" Him:"Oh, OK, but they look the same…". Such lighthearted banter, mixed with bird song and wind chimes, is the background music to my gardening. I guess you have to be there. But they’re genuine, good hearted, very cultured, well traveled, and also lover’s of food and wine, and laughter.
Joe is a debonair, free spirit, who has taught me the ornate passions of food and wine, among other things. Though I enjoy good food, I tend toward functional nourishment, and consider "haute cuisine" delightful, if a bit decadent. Not Joe. He dives in, head first. And why not? What are we saving it for?? Really? What do we really gain by starving, parsing just to look like a photo? What’s the use of living long, is we only skim the surface? (My philosophy is "everything in moderation, including moderation")
So, we ate, we talked, we laughed and laughed. What did we laugh about? Everything, and nothing, a word, a story. It’s all gone, the food, the laughter, the words, the stories, evaporated, a puff of steam, released into the ether. During dinner I thought, wistfully, "This is as good as it gets!" I’m on the magic carpet, the fluttering petal. This is the only heaven I’ll ever need. When it’s over, it’s still ours, because it was shared. Otherwise, it’s added to the memory banks of eternity. Thank you Joe, Paul and Mary.