The Audacious Magpie
A Novel in Real-Time
Chapter 5: Eating It Up
Monday May 19, 2014
I opened Gus's email and knew I was in for a treat. There were so many photos attached. I sat back to savor her message like a child with a new picture book.
I thought of you while grazing at this weekend's Smorgasburg.
You would love this creative food bonanza serving everything from fresh coconut water to the world's fluffiest donuts. I know Gran is taking good care of you there in the gingerbread house, though. Please know I'm thinking of you both and sending vibes as warm as fresh cinnamon buns.
I do have to say, the Big Ample is getting more delicious every week, Lenny.
This week's gift was inspired by all the delectable food at Smorgasburg as well as the amazing feasts available in the city most all the time. We had some wild storms this week and I know the whole city was thanking our lucky (barely visible) stars for the intrepid delivery men who kept us nourished in the torrential downpour.
The gift was originally meant for delivery guys alone, but it morphed into a celebration of all the lion-hearted cyclists who take on New York's streets.
I borrowed heavily from your Happy Spring gift and left little daisies on parked bikes around Chelsea.
Yes! I thought. Gus was really getting it. These photos filled up my heart like chicken noodle soup fills the stomach in winter.
I showed the photos to Gran sitting next to me on the couch. She smiled and laughed. "That quote from Einstein is my favorite," she reflected. "'Life is like riding a bicycle -- to keep your balance, you must keep moving.'" She patted my knee. "How well we know that, don't we Skata?"
I nodded and gave her a hug. Gran was a warrior through the healing process. She'd kept moving all right. She kept moving to keep life on the farm going, but she also let herself move through the daily tidal wave of mixed emotions. Perhaps that is how she kept her balance, she didn't stay too long in grief, but she didn't resist it either. "It's all part of the ride," she'd say, wiping her eyes. "We may not have signed up for this roller coaster, but there's no way to climb out of the seat now."
She and I had a cozy evening ritual now.
After I came in from my evening run, Gran would serve up dessert -- poppyseed lemon cake or chocolate ice cream with raspberries. While I digested the day's email, Gran snacked on Thoreau and Dickinson. We shared the small tastes of our reads with each other. Ever the pair of night owls, Gran and I stayed up late, munching through the our reading like popcorn and M&M'S.
The final part of Gus's email made me grin ear to ear. I savored it while Gran devoured Tennyson.
I swear, Lenny, this Big Ample kaleidoscope you've given me is so much better than rose-colored glasses. It's like eagle eye vision for sweet moments on the street. New York becomes a soul candy carnival with Big Ample goggles on.
First, I have to tell you about a delightful moment of serendipity. While I was standing at the craft store counter to write out the labels, you'll never believe what played on the sound system--
Follow Your Arrow! The same song you listened to during the first Big Ample gift, right? 100% uncanny. I've never heard it on the radio before. Such a good omen if ever there was one! Big Ample must be on the right track.
From there, the night was filled with gorgeous moments.
I sat at a bus stop to assemble the mini bouquets and a woman waiting there helped me put them together, stripping the hanging leaves to smooth the stems.
As I walked along 8th Avenue at 20th to deliver the gifts, I heard someone sneeze and a friendly passerby blessed him gently. (A small gesture, I know, but in a city where a siren is barely audible under the orchestra of car horns, it was tender to hear this kindness.)
Finally, after delivering all the bike bouquets, I turned the corner at 21st and 5th to find two friends reuniting:
"Elizabeth?" a man greeted a woman with cautious familiarity.
"Yes?" Her glare was filled with guarded skepticism.
"It's David!" he smiled.
As I passed between them, I recognized the careful look in her eyes as she sized him up. She wondered what he wanted, I could see.
I was 10 feet past when I heard her finally recognize him with delight. I turned back to witness a bear hug big enough to encircle Manhattan.
I'm not sure what the next gift will be, Lenny, but I'm loving the ride. Ah -- that reminds me! I finally included one of my own poems in the poem-a-day project. It fits very well with the foodie theme of this week.
I'll sign off with it and wish you well til next time,
I read a beautiful thought today about 'delicious ambiguity.'
The idea that life is delightful because it is uncertain.
So much of the beauty and the joy
Lies in the inherent mystery of what will unfold
The next moment
The next day
The next year
When one lives in the confidence,
That the world will continue to offer up its bounty,
It is then that we suck the marrow from life,
Knowing that it will not run dry,
While we are here to feast.
So, pull up a seat, whet your appetite -
A plate of the most delicious ambiguity is about to be served.