My New Year started with thoughts of old years. On January 1st I knew I had to make my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce. I didn’t know why. I just knew I needed the smells of grandma’s house filling my kitchen and to feel the presence of those who are no longer here. As the fireworks went off and people toasted 2023, I pulled pig parts and sausages out of the freezer. It was an instinctive action, it was 12:02 AM Sunday morning and Sunday is – was – spaghetti day. I wish it still was, but it hasn’t been for years. Not since my Aunt Catherine died and the family Sunday table collapsed out of my life.
As I started chopping the onions, garlic and green peppers, I remembered the scent of Sundays at grandma’s house. The sauce bubbling on the stove, chicken parts covered with millions of onions roasting in the oven and garlic sputtering in a hot frying pan. The kitchen table was opened up to almost big enough for all the Guerreras that would race in when the firehouse siren roared noon.
As I added a handful of fresh parsley to the pot, I saw my Aunt Cat grinning. Every time she tossed whole parsley – stems and all – in the sauce pot, she would look at me with her big Cheshire Cat grin. It was her culinary secret to leave the parsley whole so it was easier to fish out. Later, when no one was looking, she would scoop out every cooked piece and eat it. There is something comforting about wilted parsley dripping tomato sauce pulled out of the pot and popped into my mouth. Please don’t tell Jack – he hasn’t seen me do this.
I left the pot simmering, filling the condo with aromas of my past and visited my walk in closet. Now, we have owned this condo since Covid lockdown and I have never organized my closet. The closet is more than a closet, it could be a New York City studio apartment. My purse collection – yes I love purses and shoes – was tossed up on a shelf that I could barely reach. Clothes that I hadn’t worn in years were cramped in garment bags. We spend half the year in Italy, do I really need to know what is lurking in the garment bags? Sigh – I decided my New Year needed organization and what better way to jump start organizing than as my mom would say, start in one corner and work out. What corner? The closet is in the furthest corner of the place. Hmm. I walked in the closet door, remembered my mom, and stopped at the first corner. A corner that held an old dresser, four shelves stuffed with who knows what and a couple of squished robes. Starting at the top, I pulled a plastic box down off the highest shelf. My primary concern was not passing out after the hard plastic conked me in the noggin. My second concern was who would find me in the closet if I was bleeding from plastic pieces and lying on the floor. Luckily, my sense of drama was stronger than the box and I managed to catch it before it conked me. Having no idea what was in the box, I shoved the stuff that was on top of the dresser on the floor, plopped the plastic box on the newly cleared dresser top and opened it up. New gloves I didn’t know I owned, spiked rubber things to put under you boots and prevent death by black ice, Christmas joke jewelry from a pazillion years ago, empty jewelry boxes and –
Now I understand why the universe told me to make that sauce! After finding this precious piece of my history and the condo full of the odor of my grandma’s kitchen, I knew where my 2023 was headed. Back even further into my past and closer to the family of my present.
Buon anno! Have a healthy, happy, creative and successful 2023! May all your resolutions come to pass and if they don’t may laughter fill your days. Abbracione.
Ci vediamo a presto –