On October 12th, I celebrated not only the anniversary of my arrival into the world outside my mama’s belly, but the anniversary of my arrival to Ashland!
It’s been quite the year!
My house was already planning to hold a potluck supper on October 9th, and I wasn’t sure, that morning, that I wanted it to be a birthday celebration potluck. But, I wondered, why not? Some little voice in me was saying it was wrong to want a party focused on me, but I had to wonder where that voice was coming from. I never figured it out entirely, only that I was being silly!
Interestingly, our landlord Asha called me that day, and reminded me that October 9th was his father Kindler’s birthday. You can read a small story about Kindler here, but at some point I would like to share more about him. I sleep in the little kitchen loft that used to be Kindler’s space, and I even wear an old pair of handmade shoes, sometimes, that were his. He would have been 75 on October 9th. And for many other, more important reasons, it was an honor for me to share my birthday party with him. We invited some of his friends, and some of them showed up and shared reminisces.
For the party, I made a simple plum cake with Italian prune plums, a tomato/goat cheese “tamaccia” (a cross between tamales and focaccia, something I created at the Wellsprings kitchen where I work), a black bean soup made with leftover gazpacho made by my coworker Luis. Hollie made roasted root veggies, with parsnips, beets, and sweet potatoes, Jules made delicious focaccia with lots of garlic and my Fir Oil, and the guests brought lovely cheeses, ice cream, quinoa, red wine, IPAs, soup, and more vegetables. Marcus brought a huge tray of vegetables he harvested from his garden, including some very beautiful eggplants of different purples, yay!
A passel of little girls showed up. My friend Gayatri brought her best friends and her little sister Lalita, and my dear friend Victoria brought her daughter Aurora, who presented me with a dozen red roses, and some handmade raw candies. What a dreamy, amazing thing, to be given a dozen roses! I can’t help but notice that every single thing we do in this kitchen, since the roses arrived, is made even more poetic, by their glorious presence. I treasure each day of getting to watch my beautiful house mates making tea by the roses, chopping greens by the roses, laughing or crying with the roses as their shining companions.
The little girls spent a bunch of time during the party making me cards. I was sitting on the living room floor, surrounded by friends making music, several people handing me chocolate, a new friend named Violet giving me an aromatherapy treatment, many people giving me hugs, Gunasilan brought me my favorite store-bought cookies (Stropenwaffles) without knowing they were my favorites, and those darling little girls handed me handmade cards, one after the other. And Aurora, who is three years old, told us all an amazing, very detailed story about how she came from a star. I think she could convince a lot of people here in Ashland that it was entirely true.
Marcus and Monica took turns playing our old upright piano so beautifully I didn’t want them to ever stop, but our dear carpenter friend was busy remembering all the Grateful Dead covers he ever knew on his guitar… Thankfully this was made more entertaining by a pair of sweet young men from South Carolina playing the mandolin with him. Our friend Vittorio arrived fashionably late, wearing a bucket full of figs he’d just picked out in the Applegate, advising me to save the black ones for myself, which I did, and ate with bleu cheese, and, later, with the brie that my friend and coworker Luis brought to me with a candle on top.
After most everyone had left, it was almost 2am, and Victoria and I somehow got on the topic of my cookbook, and, after we scrolled through a bunch of it, she agreed to assist me in the finishing stages, which was extremely exciting to me. But somehow, I managed to get to sleep anyway…
It was so nice having my birthday party ahead of time. There were lots more lovely treats and precious events that happened after the party, too, which, after all of that, were truly the “icing on the cake”! A wonderful, long email from Rhiannon, a handmade card from my mother, getting to harvest acorns with Jules and Hollie, and then the next day, with Marcus. And a song circle that happened the night of my actual birthday, hosted by my dear housemate Jessica, which was an amazing event all in itself!
Marcus doesn’t have many things in common with my former partner Wolf, and as much as I dislike comparisons in general, it is interesting to note that there are a few overlaps. For one, they both tend to enjoy their own company, and being in nature or at some focused work more than being in social situations. (it’s true, “hermit-appeal” for me, is a very real thing) Another is that they both love to give presents, and they are both quite talented shoppers, especially good at finding great deals. Over the last year, Marcus has gifted me with an impressive collection of small instruments that I am very slowly learning to use. The latest one is a beautiful dulcimer.
Also, for my birthday, he scored a classic cookbook, and a gorgeous alpaca garment that reminds me of the capes the elves give to the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. And as much as I treasure these wonderful things, the flower crown he fashioned for me out of fishing wire and marigolds touched my heart the very most. Because he watered and grew these miraculous flowers all throughout the dry, hot, smoke-filled summer, and made this beautiful, impermanent thing, just for me. And because when he put it on my head, and I looked in the mirror, I felt like I’d never looked prettier. I wore it all day long, and it even stayed on my head the whole time we picked acorns together.
In just a few more days, it will be the anniversary of the day we met, and hung out for the first time in our friend Dylan’s van in the co-op parking lot, with a few other new friends. It was one of those perfect hippie moments in time. But no, we didn’t have our first kiss that day.
It’s been quite the year, of ups and downs, but never a dull moment, that’s for sure…