Midnight Hour Rambling
I can't sleep.
The clock is yawning on toward midnight and both the dog and the husband have been out cold for hours. Biscuit tucked herself in around 7pm, almost as soon as she burst through the door after her second full day at doggie daycare this week. It's been cold here, too cold for her to go play with her dog-friends on days when it doesn't get north of 30*. Too cold for long, rambling walks. Too cold to chase down the trails the rabbits leave up and down the hill behind the apartment building, and certainly too cold to go explore whatever interesting smell was wafting toward her yesterday morning from the frozen creek bed. It was 5* outside. Nobody is adventurous when it is 5* outside, except my dog.
But it's warmer now, so she gets to go play with her friends, then come home, run straight to her bowl and devour everything before collapsing and laying still, convincing me she's dead, for 14 hours. Yesterday despite it being a temperate evening, I fell asleep early. I had felt a migraine pressing at my temple all day long, and I didn't want to fight it any longer: I just gave in.
I'm glad I did, of course. You can learn a lot from watching the behavior of a dog. One of my favorite lessons: If your body can sleep for 14 hours, it probably should. But now tomorrow became today and today became tonight and here I am, awake at midnight by myself, thumbing through old blog posts by David Lebovitz and pretending I know what Paris tastes like as I nibble pizza leftovers and reminisce about the cherry tomatoes and concord grapes I used to steal from the plants around my childhood yard.
And, as always during these dark, cold weeks when winter seems to stretch on forever, I dream of summer. It's different this year, though. This year summer comes brimming with the promise of my first house, the first place that will feel like my home again since I moved out of what has now become my parents' house. My old room there has been painted over, and the laundry appliances have moved in, and a twin bed that's constantly heaped with scarves (which I love) and laundry of varying organization (with which I can empathize). My mother and I, we run similar ships.
James and I are meeting with our realtor tomorrow to go see a house. It's too far away from where James works to be practical for us, and we have to save a bit more before either of us want to make offers on anything, but the pictures of it showed a red front door, and an acre of property that is completely bare. Other home-shoppers might see an expensive landscaping road ahead of them, but I can see roses, and pergolas draped with heavy wisteria, twirling their tendrils into the air and sending out waves of their heady perfume. I see beds of tomatoes, every shape and color and flavor. I see herbs, cucumbers, pumpkins large enough to be Cinderella's carriage. I see a greenhouse, and I seem hydrangeas and peonies and a magnolia tree, stretching high toward the sun. I see an orchard swaying gently in the southern summer breeze, branches getting ready to bare peaches, lemons, figs, apples, pears, nectarines, olives. I see brambles of berry bushes: blueberry, strawberry, huckleberry, raspberry, blackberry. Lavender shrubs and lilac trees and oriental poppies. Maybe even allium. Why not? It's a blank canvas, that's the point.
It could become anything I want it to be.
And from there, it's a slippery slope, and I know that, but it doesn't matter. We're already down the rabbit hole of dreaming, you see, and this late at night, there's nothing to pull me back. Once I've started thinking about the orchard, there's nothing to grab onto. So I don't.
I just let myself go.
And I think... I could grow every vegetable that David Lebovitz's writing has made me crave tonight, spin them into dinners so fresh you'd swear they were miracles. The minutes tick away, and as January bows out to February, I am dreaming of jarring tomatoes (whole, pureed, diced, as sauce) and pickling garlic and cucumbers. The berries are harvested into ice creams and jams, the lemon eventually into curd, the figs adorn baked brie. And my love of gardening and my love of eating once again find a happy common ground on my kitchen table, which would, ideally, be surrounded by dear friends.
I don't mind being up late, stealing quiet moments to myself, because during the day, I miss the dear people we left behind in New York. I get homesick for my parents, and my sister, and Kristin and my godchildren. I never host Maxine anymore, or goad Kallie and Rich into coming to Brooklyn for supper. Cara doesn't work at the butcher counter down here, and I miss her soulful eyes and bright smile. I miss dinners with Catherine and Eric and sharing a mischevious smile with Sarah across the aisle at work. I miss dinners at Landmarc and afternoon strolls through the fish market. I miss Anthropologie (the one here doesn't even carry shoes) and Sarabeth's chocolate pudding, and even though I have the recipe here it's simply not the same. Who's going to eat the chocolate curls off the top for me? Not Juliann. She's a thousand miles away.
Here, my table is empty during the day. And I don't have a yard for a garden, yet. And my mother, she's just so far away.
But not at night, not in these quiet moments. In these quiet moments, it's so easy to dream, the moonlight flooding into the apartment through the blinds that I refuse to close because we finally have neighbors that live more than 15-feet away from our windows. No, in these moments that I steal for myself, I read about life in Paris and I swear I can taste it. I think about hosting dinner parties for friends far away and I swear I can hear their laughter, the sounds of the dishes I haven't bothered unpacking yet because there is nobody to use them clanking merrily against one another as course after course, cooked from my very own garden, make their way down the table and into my loved ones' souls.
I can hear my mother's voice, politely telling me that I am loading the dishwasher incorrectly (I can never remember whether the forks go in tines-down or tines-up) and then my mother-in-law's voice telling me it's wrong once I've changed it (because however my mother does it, my mother-in-law does it differently). And then my mother reminds me that she has a wonderful pair of earrings that would match my apron perfectly. She'd give them to me, you know, if only I'd wear them.
And in these dreams, everyone settles in for a cocktail on the back porch. The breeze through the wisteria and the magnolia trees and the crickets and the tall grass swaying lull us all into a peaceful moment, and my father-in-law is telling stories loudly, with big gestures because he's full of passion for life, and my father is chuckling to himself with his head cocked to the side and he's running his finger over his eyebrow in the way he does when he's not paying attention to the fact that I'm paying attention to him because he's enjoying himself so much. And the air is perfumed and fresh and everyone is happy and healthy and together, and it's perfect.
And here, in the quiet, in the moonlight, I don't force myself to be reasonable or practical or rational.
I let myself dream about Paris and my future house and garden.
There will be plenty of time for practicality tomorrow.
Maybe I'll even wear earrings.
What do you dream about when you let your imagination run wild?