It's said that every child born into this world is gifted by another world with three blessings or talents. But when I was born, while three wee fairies appeared, only two gave me christening presents.
The first fairy waved her wand and said, "She'll be pretty enough but not too pretty so she'll never suffer the envy of others."
The second fairy waved her wand and said, "She'll be smart enough but not too smart so she'll never curse the world with another invention like gunpowder or the nuclear bomb."
The third fairy sneezed, "Ker-chooo! Bless me," she said, by way of excusing her hay fevered self then added, "And bless her too but I don't think she'll be needing any help from me. Have you seen that family of hers? Why that's a thousand blessings right there and I dare say she'll be spoiled already." So, instead of waving her wand she merely tucked it behind her ear so she could blow her nose on a lilac petal.
And of course the sniffling fairy was quite right and very wise and, even if she had been about to bestow me with my very own kingdom, it could never have meant as much to me as my family.
I am endlessly amazed at, among other things, my family's generosity, love, ingenuity, good humour and good graces even in the face of one of my outlandish schemes. So, when I proposed a pig roast to fete a visit from my American cousins and their Brazilian friends and my own farewell/birthday, it was not a surprise, though it was a relief, when Uncle A polished, painted and donated his spit, and Uncle D donated a week of his life to building a cover for it in case of rain, and Leona offered their farm and dishes and a million other details to the cause.
There were a lot of moments of doubt-like when the affair blossomed to double the guests long after I'd already ordered the pig, then again when, upon seeing the wee tininess of the piglet, I realized with certainty there would not be enough meat and yet again when my roiling stomach convinced me the pungent briny marinade I'd concocted would ruin the meat before it ever made it onto the spit- but my family was there at each turn, reassuring me everything would be just fine and roasting up "plan b" chickens, just in case.
There were other moments where I felt like a serial killer, driving around with a carcass in my trunk, talk of clean rubber gloves and fluid catching tarps, not to mention suturing the skin - so humanesque it was easy to see why pigs are used in med schools- after stuffing it. "Quit thinking about it," Uncle D demanded at one point, but really, once the thought strikes you, it's nearly impossible to shake.
Then too, as a vegetarian recently converted back to a carnivorous diet I had much explaining to do regarding my decision to roast a beast, which I won't essay today except to say I don't eat pork on a regular basis but in this situation there was tribe and ritual to consider, a belief in roles and purpose for all living creatures fulfill and our own place in the these cycles.
In the end there was laughter and love, new friendships made, however brief, and more than enough pork for everyone. And there was that moment when, coming out of the main house I stood on the back deck looking out towards the torch lit summer kitchen where everyone had taken shelter from an evening storm round the wood stove. The laughter and chatter rising from it was so great it drowned out the thunder and, as lightning lit the charcoal sky beyond the meadow I thought, There, in the midst of this puddling mess and mud, is my family sharing food and wine, stories and jokes and, because of them, I am the most fortunate soul on earth.
Plautdietsch Word of the Day: Gummshoo = galoshes (or rubber boots)
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