I miss her. That is all.
I miss her as she was when I was 8. I miss being 8. I want to jump back to 1991 and whisper in my own ear and say, take a moment. Take a good look around. Get it set in your brain. This, all of it; the sights, the sounds, the emotions…it is all pretty grand.
I would tell my 8 year old self to memorize what was written on the chalkboard in the kitchen at the base of the stairs. How many tomato worms had grandpa killed that summer? Had grandma drawn any men with pipes yet that day? I would tell that 8 year old girl to inhale deeply while standing in the middle of the kitchen. It smells like cast iron pans, sauted onions, and browned ground beef. I would tell my 8 year old self to look down. Really remember the green linoleum floor with the hand woven circular rug under the kitchen table. Memorize the colors of that rug, as it will be under your feet for decades.
Remember what it feels like to be surrounded by corn fields and how it feels to be tucked away and hidden from the outside world. Dear 8 year old me, you will crave this sort of isolation from time to time but understand that it is more of a need to be encompassed and surrounded and less about the isolation. It will be why you are drawn to cities. Suck in the sweet smell of the corn deep into your lungs and feel the warm humid air cover your skin as it sweeps over those fields. Rememeber it all I would tell her.
I would tell her to remember the sharp pain of stones jabbing her tender spring feet while gingerly walking barefoot across a gravel drive. Remember how you will be able to run at top speed on that same gravel in a few months but with August feet. And remember the tenderness with which grandma will scrub your grubby toes at the end of each day. Take a step back and take a mental snapshot of that image and hold it with you forever. An old wash basin sitting in the middle of the drive, filled with ice cold hose water and a splash of slippery bleach…an aging grandma bent over a squirming child, a scrub brush in one hand a dirty foot in the other. Keep that image in your back pocket.
Dear 8 year old, don’t forget the concord grapevine that grows wildly yet is carefully tended to on the west side of the house. Between the chicken coop and the garage. Remember the cluster of purple grapes so dark they seemed black. Linger a few moments with the sweet flavor of their juices and notice the similarity between it and the jelly you adore. Know 2 decades later you will chase that flavor for an entire summer.
Remember ice cream treats in the front yard with grandpa. I would tell her to pick the Flintstone orange pushup more often because they will not taste the same twenty years later. I would tell her to let the nylon webbing of the lawn chair stick and scratch her thighs and just listen to the ebb and flow of the adult conversation happening above her head. Or just sit there and help grandpa watch the corn grow. I would tell her to learn how to sit still and to listen and to watch.
Remember the persistent and constant chirp of crickets as you sleep on the porch. Their drone louder than distant cars on distant roads. Take in the smell of that porch – damp bricks and wicker. Remember the darkness of the farm at night and don’t forget to look up. Always look up – those stars will not always be as bright or as visible or as plentiful. I want her to look at those stars more often. Remember the comfort gathered from the dim light above the kitchen sink that proved a more than adequate night light. Remember how grandma not once forgot to leave it on.
Remember the smell of Joy dishwashing liquid and how she never minds your help with the dishes. Remember her quick, reply of ‘pull up a chair’ and how the zero hesitation in her voice makes you feel needed and wanted and loved. Remember her never ending kindness and patience towards you no matter the amount of water down your front and on the floor. I would whisper to her to learn that brand of patience. It is needed in this world.
Remember how you gently nudge grandma awake during your marathon games of gin rummy after dinner. Remember how she sits in the chair opposite you, her stained apron still around her waist and her legs crossed so her worn broken down sneaker bounces in the air. Remember how her head bobs when she succumbs to sleep, often times waking herself up and how she will say she was just resting her eyes and how this will make you giggle. Remember that she will always enthusiastically agree to at least 5 more hands of gin rummy. Remember how she never lets you win.
I miss her.
That is all.
The chocolate mousse has zero to do with grandma – it is not a recipe from her or ever made by her. However, I think she would have liked it. The only correlation between this chocolate mousse and grandma is that she didn’t fear the eating of raw eggs and she promoted ample whipped cream with any chocolate dessert. Or more like a bit of chocolate with her whipped cream.
- 3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped ( I like 60% cacao)
- 3 eggs
- Whipped Cream Topping
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
- Place chocolate in a glass bowl and set the bowl over a simmering pan of water. Do not let the glass bowl touch the water. Let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Separate egg whites from egg yolks. Place in separate bowls.
- Stir egg yolks into melted chocolate.
- Beat egg whites until white and fluffy, just before soft peaks form.
- Add egg whites to chocolate mixture and mix well, until there are no streaks of egg white remaining.
- Pour into coffee mugs or shot glasses or other small glass jars. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mousse and place in refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- When ready to eat, make whipped cream.
- Place heavy whipping cream and sugar into a medium bowl and with a hand mixer or with a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat until stiff peaks form – over do it and you will have butter!
- Dollop whipped cream atop chocolate mousse, sprinkle with optional chocolate shavings, and enjoy!
*adapted from French By Design