"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Saturday, February 02, 2019

When Life Gives You Ice, Make Tortilla Soup


For some, February 1 is a “Rabbit, Rabbit” thing. And February 2 is Groundhog Day. I’ve written before, with apologies to T.S. Eliot, that it is February, and not April, that is the cruelest month.

Dates and anniversaries are important to me. Even when I neglect to send a card or outwardly acknowledge an occasion, I’m usually mindful, grateful, and thinking fondly of the people or events involved.

My niece was born 17 years ago this weekend. February 1 there was a terrific ice storm in Kansas City. Lots of folks lost power — good thing the hospital didn’t! — and my brother and sister-in-law had friends without light and heat staying in their home while they were welcoming their first born in the hospital.

That same day, one of my besties (we’re sort of Three Musketeers) was traveling by train to KC from western Kansas for a routine doctor’s appointment. The ice forced delays; her Kansas City hotel was without power; the other bestie and I brazenly interfered and rearranged her doctor visit. Of course she’d come stay at my house when her train finally chugged into town many frigid hours later.

February  2 is not only Groundhog Day, but the day my beloved one and only daughter and second-born child came into the world. Like her brother, she was a bit past her due date and I’d joked with the doctor about when she’d see her shadow.

That cold, icy weekend in 2002 we were celebrating my daughter’s 9th birthday and the birth of my brother’s first child. But those days are in my heart for even more than that.

 My mother, another light and heat refugee, was in the house. The third musketeer and her husband, also without power, brought their sleeping bags over and slept before our fire. Their daughter, mine, and our western Kansas pal gathered ingredients and concocted the most magnificent tortilla soup — nurturing, comforting, born of love and family and friendship.

Even in the midst of a frigid polar vortex — and I do so feel for my loved ones in the midst of it — I have such warm memories and so much gratitude for that early February weekend 17 years ago: the miracle of birth… the warmth of friendship and family ties… the aroma of cumin, garlic and chicken stock on the stove… much laughter and many hugs… the crackling of Ozark firewood in the hearth… and the beautiful spontaneity of an icebound house party. Maybe February isn't so cruel after all.