Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer Celebrations: VT and NY

Mother's Day, Father's Day who needs them?

Sears, certainly, great for lawn mower and Lazy Boy sales. At Macy's on the Saturday before M-Day the line ran past cosmetics into men's wear and nearly out the door onto Fulton Street during the 50% off most jewelry sale. Hallmark always makes out for the poetically impaired, and statistically restaurants do best on M-Day while sales of grills and charcoal peak on Dad's day.

Like I said, who needs them?

But this year, without planning it, I found myself seated at a picnic table-- well, a plank of wood balanced across two saw horses, surrounded by the wives and children of 3 of the best fathers I know: my husband sculptor Rob, devoted to our 3 kids who with him share a liking for smoked meats, crude humor and silly voices-- and a sometimes hard to deal with independence of mind. Tom Merwin: fireman, painter, also a lover of smoked meats, who has raised his son Matt to love and respect nature and art, a twofold vision both share, Tom in painting, Matt in film making. And Mike Brown: musician/ teacher who has not only passed on his musical genes to his son, drummer Dave Brown, but also drummed into him the importance of discipline in practice and hardcore commitment to the craft.

It hit me as I balanced a chocolate sheet cake leftover from one guest's graduation and a trifle
jiggling in a bowl by my British coloured sister-in law and a cake by Chris Brown. (I don't bake and am blessed by friends and family who do.) I was crossing through Rob's studio where the door opened onto the gravely yard where the lifting cloud of rib-smoke refracted the evening light that glinted off my brother Tom's silver buzz cut and the gleam of all those faces, shiney with the grease of many ribs and lamb chops.


How beautiful they all were in this shiney, greasy transcedent way.
And this was the holiday I had hoped to avoid.
(Now tomorrow I'll be back to tell you of a Blue Moon celebration in Brooklyn and the three amazing women who grace the top floor of a five story walk-up in Carrol Gardens with their own transcendent beauty.)
Okay, it's taken a couple of days to get back to finish this blog, primarily due to our move to yet another sublet, this time in Crown Heights, while the hovel by the graveyard is being transformed into a home.
On the night of the Blue Moon, which only showed itself briefly as a tangerine smudge modestly covering up behind sheer grey clouds, Sheela Woolford had a roof top party. And what a roof it was: a 360 degree reminder of all the reasons one might still tough it out to live in NYC. Despite insane rents and the stress of juggling jobs to pay them, the city still has long tree lined streets in Brooklyn, with stoops for those of us who still don't have airconditioning to sit until late hours like our parents of a generation ago and chat with neighbors as they come and go on a summer night. And in the distance the sparkling city. From Sheela's roof you can see it all. The close-up friendly down below view of Carrol Gardens, the elegant expanse of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and the still glittering promise of Manahattan.
Sheela our host writes. She recently accepted a sabbatical to finish her first novel. Also to her creation credits she can boast two stunning daughter: Lelah and Sarah who like the circular landscape that surrounded us from where we sat on their rooftop are both as solid and friendly as the Brooklyn street down below us, and as sparkling with promise as the NYC horizon by night beneath a Blue Moon.
Sitting with my friend, admiring her daughters as well as the silhouettes of my own twin teens against that Blue Moon sky studded with antennas and dotted with Dishes-- I thought this in fact was mother's day. Well, more like a mother's moment-- one of those blissful epiphanies when you see the loveliness of your own creative efforts.
Like living in New York these days, being a parent is so difficult, so expensive, so nearly impossible.
But sitting on Sheela's roof that I night I felt a wave of certainty: well worth it!


At 8:51 AM , Blogger Sheela Wolford said...

You had me with chocolate sheet cake.

Oh please tell me a collection of essays by Reilly is being written and in this very vein of reality?!

I could read a book of it.

At 11:35 AM , Blogger Sheela Wolford said...

Some hear the call of the wild; we hear the call of the roof. Thank you for pointing that out and thank you for attending that night. I promise to attend any barbecues you design. Only good can come from it.


At 12:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVED the blog DO have a way with words, capturing the essence of the gathering and of the people gathered. Perhaps a book of such stories...Family Ties...should be added to your future projects...because everyone can relate and it encourages others to truly cherish the moments that sparkle in life...reminds me of song lyrics by Jonh Lennon..."Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans"...

At 12:03 PM , Blogger Eben Reilly said...

Sheela & Chris...

Thanks for sharing not only the blogs, but the events!


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