Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fifteen and (not really) counting

I stopped at the post office this morning on our way out of town--a quick trip to Harrisburg to find Choe's Asian Market, recommended by Paula H. The box was crammed with colorful envelopes, which puzzled me for a moment, then: aha. Mom. Fifteen birthday cards. I glanced over at the counter, where V was shaking her head: I processed those, she said, and I kept thinking--
     What makes him so special? I offered. She laughed. I told her next week was my 50th and that there might be another 35 cards coming in. My mother really should have bought stock in Hallmark in the Sixties.
     Opening the cards at my desk after we got home and reading the little notes was an exercise in memory and forgetting: Remember the chestnut tree? Remember when you painted the fence and thought you'd never get done? I brought you cold drinks . . . I do remember the fence (split rail, and I painted it a dark, dark gray, and had to cut down an enormous forsythia bush) but I didn't remember the other part. How spotty is memory. Or maybe just mine?
     Bright envelopes: blues, yellows, some greens. Little stickers of dogs, cats, butterflies. One with a row of baby ducks, which triggers the memory of getting six tiny ducklings as a birthday surprise for her, and trying to keep them hidden in my bedroom closet for a whole day: six peeping birds in a cardboard box. Another story, but the look of utter joy on her face when we dumped them onto the living room carpet. . . And of course I will save the cards in the same box where I keep all her letters, but I keep looking at the envelopes: What can I make of these?
     --A quilt, of course. Of sorts. A paper quilt. Ohio Star? Too complicated?

And by the way, the trip to Choe's was a great success. We bought oodles of noodles, mung beans, hot pepper paste, a huge jar of kimchi . . . Then we tracked down a Vietnamese shop and got more goodies, including fresh gai lon and a big bag of the cutest little baby bok choy--I mean I wanted to kiss them, they looked that cute. Why does baby bok choy affect me the way most people respond to actual babies? Why ask why? We're eating well this weekend.

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