My woo woo pals will not even blink when I say that at 7:00 AM the other morning I bumped onto my grandma. She died when I was 16 but I remember her vividly – it was her.
Wearing the same kind of caftan I had on when I first saw Ruth St Denis, whoops that’s the mom of modern dance and she has nothing to do with this story. It’s just the magic of the caftan. So wearing this old tied died caftan, I was walking in The field across the street from my house carrying a plate of apricot peels. As I started to toss the peels into the field – there she was. Smiling because I hadn’t been lazy and walked way out onto the field just like she taught me.
Whew, where did that memory come from – why was she here now? When I was a wee thing we had pasta at grandmas house every Sunday. After the locusts in my family had managed to eat everything but the mopeen – dish rag we all used to wipe our saucy fingers on – it was often my job to take the pile of bones and other table scraps out to the field. The instruction was walk far and toss. Sometimes a lazy kid would just dump the plate at the edge of the lawn. ( Jack screams at me now because I’ve turned into a lazy kid and dump on our Flagtown lawn line.)
This was a no no and would draw rats close to the house. We didn’t have a fancy compost pile or Eco box. We had the field. Foxes loved the bones and they were soon gone. The egg shells and the veggie scraps were great for revitalizing the earth. Now 60 years later, here I am in the place where my nonna learned that doing a field dump wasn’t a trailer trash thing. It was simply keeping the cycle of growth happening.
That morning I was doing something I know she had done. The field was a recently shorn hayfield. The feral cats and foxes still eat any meat stuff and the rest just rots back into the soil. Maybe next year this field would be a potato patch – enriched by or simple veggie scraps.
What struck me was how the simple action of tossing apricots peels brought my nonna back to me. She was there making sure I walked out far enough and did the job right. This had a colossal impact on me. After a year long painful inner dialogue about selling our house in NJ, it was this moment in a field that nonna made me realize that I could. The farmhouse was my grandma’s and is the place where I feel the presence of my elders everyday. Nonna let me know that wherever I am they are and all is OK.