Remember Katharine Hepburn, in "Stage Door," saying in that inimitable voice of hers, "The calla lilies are in bloom"? Well, the snapdragons are in bloom. They are popping! And the callies and the wave petunias are all settled in and happy, and the alyssum are perky and fragrant. Man, this is cool.
Last weekend, between all the gardening, other things happened which were, in retrospect, Mother's Day observances. I did something I do only occasionally: I cooked my mother's recipe for spaghetti sauce and meatballs.
You must understand, my mother was 100% "lace curtain" Irish, not an ounce of Italian blood. But for ten years, early in their marriage, she and my father owned a neighborhood grocery store, and a number of little old Italian ladies patronized it. As time went by, they shared recipes with my mother, she, herself a newlywed, and a hard worker-- anyone could see that. She drove an army surplus jeep to deliver groceries, she cleaned chickens and turkeys, she was unfailingly kind to all her customers, carrying bags home herself for the more infirm among them. Thanks to the patronage and appreciation of those ladies, my mom became a most accomplished cook of what a friend of mine used to call "red lightning" Italian cooking: sauce, various items parmegiana, bracciole, meatballs, etc.
My high school boyfriend commented once that our house had a "culture of food," a remark that got him banned for a month or so. I suppose it hit my mother in a sore spot. It was the truth: my parents were (and my dad still is) exceptionally concerned with food and eating and with providing their children exactly what they wanted to eat, with providing nourishment-- and treats-- in superabundance. For my mom, at least, this was a direct result of her experience as a child during the Depression. She knew what it was like to be hungry. She knew what it was like to be ashamed of that very hunger. She never failed to weep when she watched "Gone With the Wind," and Scarlett O'Hara held up that grimy root and proclaimed through clenched teeth, "As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again." That was my mom.
So I made my mother's recipe for spaghetti sauce and meatballs. We (my children, Beloved and I) feasted on it with angel hair pasta, sourdough bread dipped in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic, and a salad of field greens with the same for a dressing. It was only later that I realized what a fitting Mother's Day observance it was.