consuelacooks

cooking, poetry, and unapologetic intense moments in a life

Category: Spring

Secondary leaves, Or mid-life growth spurts

It’s been a solid three weeks since my little life began here in the deep south. In that time, I have figured out the GOOD grocery store, the BAD date sites, the BEAUTIFUL garden walks, the WILDLY FRUITFUL yard-sale neighborhoods, and the inevitable MIRROR UP TO NATURE that is alone time. All of this, of course, yields incredibly useful information, albeit sometimes with great discomfort.

There has not been great success personally in raising things from seed in my life. I am a scavenger of disposed-of plants behind grocery stores, and while those forgotten plants usually live in the world of dry, old, or ugly– I try to revitalize them and bring back some of the good old days of green living. But from seed? There was a pitiful tomato plant once. It yielded one lone tomato, about an inch in diameter.

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It was a momentous occasion. My friend Caitlin and I divided it in two and ate it with panache, as we did many beautiful meals in that dearest old stinky house we occupied in Pittsfield Massachusetts, so many moons ago.

But, due to Memphis dirt, divinity, dedication, decidedly good counsel, and delicious Tennessee light, we have secondary leaves.

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There does seem to be life here. In so many forms. The relish of fellowship, the love of music, the surge of urban art, the evolution of plants, neighborhoods and organizations, the REBIRTH of itself, the phoenix-like qualities of those who are marginalized –the sheer TENACITY of this resilient city is infectious on so many levels.

On this precipitous Friday, we look into that mirror, and rest with the ghosts who are becoming most transparent.

We wish them well, and they fade into thin air, like smoke.

“All things are engaged in writing their history…Not a foot steps into the snow, or along the ground, but prints in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. The ground is all memoranda and signatures; and every object covered over with hints. In nature, this self-registration is incessant, and the narrative is the print of the seal.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The running list of what I love about Memphis

Memphis is like no other place I’ve ever been. I won’t and can’t explain the feeling, as it would be diminished with language. It is lush, delicious. The days of alone time are very trying , but the moments of shared experience are unique and spirit-full. If there is a Holy Ghost, I swear he lives in Memphis.

The List:

IMG_20170507_082813190Midtown Laundry

You might say, “What the hell?”.

This place gives ample conversation, entertainment, the occasional prayer, and the inevitable communal belly laugh, and at 7 on a Sunday morning, I always see the same folks.

My favorite, my friend, 74, who lives on Spring, who always reminds me that if God lets her live another month she will be 75. She always touches me, invokes a short prayer, and gives me the updates on her health, her neighborhood gossip, and praises my moth tattoo. I’m pretty sure she is a deity of some sort.

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Overton Park.

Dogs, picnicking lovers, families laughing, lush forests, art, and a formidable playground.

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Magnolias.

They’re from the Jurassic period.

Literally dinosaur flowers.

They smell of fear, lust, surprise, gentility, and fire to me. Also, my friend Marquis is on that list- he’s one of my favorite things too. This was his first magnolia.

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This little Hippo.

Her name is Winnie and she is a baby. She is at the Memphis Zoo. Her Mom’s name is Binti. Hippos are descended from whales, and can grow up to 7000 pounds. They can run up to 19 miles an hour on land, and can open their massive jaw a whopping 180 degrees and muster enough force in them (along with incredibly sharp teeth) to crush an alligator. Their name means ‘Horse of the River’. They cannot swim or float, but can trot on the river bed like a horse, and when they need to resurface (about every 8-9 minutes) they push themselves off of the bed. They are the deadliest animal in Africa. Number one. Superlative. It doesn’t get deadlier, unless you’re a mosquito, an elephant or a black mambo. I love hippos. Can’t explain it.

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Memphis Rain.

I love it. I missed it. Thunder is a lullaby. Also, Ella is the best, and I wish they were here a lot. And their partner Mark.

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Caritas Village.

The Mission: ‘To break down walls of hostility between the cultures, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor & to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.’ It’s a miracle of a place. Smack dab in the middle of Binghampton. I met 4 of the warmest humans in Memphis in that place, and I can’t wait to return.

Burke'sbooks

Burke’s Books.

There is no better spot to sit, read, and think. It has survived depressions, prohibition, two world wars, a civil war, the turns of two centuries, hipsters, hippies, hip-cats, the Beats, surf rock, the British Invasion, baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and 27 presidents of the United States of America. There is really no telling if any of us will survive the current leadership, so I’m not including his reign in this endorsement for a rock-solid staple of Memphian destinations.

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Company d

Company d of Memphis, Tennessee, is a nationally recognized dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters. I was able to spend some time there, talk about possibilities, and meet some of the dancers. They were stunning. I hope to spend a lot of time here.

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My falling-apart-leaky-noisy apartment.

I feel safe in this ugly puppy of a building, which is no small feat in this town which lives up to its dangerous reputation on a daily basis. I’ve never laid eyes on my landlord, I had to work for two hours with a knife and a hammer to pry open one window, I’ve had two shelves come crashing down in my kitchen, and there are so many haphazardly laid layers of paint on everything in the apartment that I’m sure each room has lost a square inch. I live below two 22-year-old newlyweds who are very energetic, emphatic walkers, and late-night vacuum-ers, and although there is a washer and dryer in the basement, I feel like I’m in a final scene out of the Blair Witch Project when I descend those stairs, so I seek other laundry facilities (see Midtown Laundry). Vito loves the wide open space, and I have had a number of opportunities to have folks over already. My Basil and Cilantro are growing. I am sleeping (Maybe too much sleeping). I love my job and the people who I work with each day. I BELIEVE in my leaders. I TRUST them.

 

I don’t have those pals that I can be quiet with yet, but I’m getting there. I’ve only developed two or three crushes. I’ve only scanned the animal shelter offerings twice. I’m slowly extracting melancholy and injecting in some hope.

 

Baby steps, people.

NOPOMO 13 or God, I want my lobster

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Miles to Go

Each patch of skin
Is inventoried
All the stories that arrive with a touch

Tell all the nasty natal secrets
The preternatural longings, naïve mistakes, wild worldly wisdom
Anomalous wantings

Every inch has a history
They are all named and numbered and filed away
Shoved into memory
Without exception, forever locked
In my bare bones

Most steps I take sing a song of you
And I don’t even know your name.

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