My neighbour Maria is from Sicily, and since we moved to Montreal these are some of the things she has handed me over the garden fence: homemade arancini, deep fried battered squash flowers stuffed with melted mozzarella, basil seedlings... And every Christmas she rings my front doorbell and hands me a heaping plate of homemade Italian pastries. How does a person reciprocate in the face of such joyous and extravagant splendour? But today I saw her shovelling the dreary snow in her back yard in her rainbonnet. I was sitting at the glass doors sipping a perfect cafe au lait with my nose buried in the cold, waxy paradise of the pot of hyacinths I bought at the market on the weekend. If Maria glanced up, I thought, she would see me: decadent and relaxed in a fragrant morning dream. But she did not glance up: she was working too hard. Like a lot of the Italian women on my street, Maria is in her 70s and her husband is unwell. Time to go down now, said The Voice of Spring, and give that lovely neighbour a pot of hyacinths over the garden fence. So I did, and springtime came to us both, and Maria told me the Italian word for hyacinth is giacinto. "Giacinto," we proclaimed together, in the rain and snow.
Smiling as I catch up on your posts. (Okay, a tired smile. I've been up since 5 am.) I cannot *believe* that you're doing your own taxes! I took a photo of zucchini flowers in a market in Mexico City to show you. I remember you telling me about your neighbour last summer. Wonderful that you shared your pot of hyacinths with her. My version of mandala colouring is that I want to embroider myself a Frida Kahlo vest. Although, at the rate that I finish such projects, I might have to live until I'm 90 to wear it. I agree with your ultimate decision re: purses. They're supposed to carry things in such a way that those things stay yours and private. A sleek purse is like stylish, but skimpy stockings in -30C weather.