Sunday, December 26, 2010


Yet another sacrifice I have made for my children: wine glasses with stems. Back in the golden days, evening could find me sipping my nightly dose of red wine from an elegantly stemmed goblet which would relay no excessive heat from my fingertips to the delicately balanced alchemy within. I liked to drink while reading on the couch. I still like to drink and read on the couch, but now the book is usually something about Star Wars, Thomas the Tank Engine, or Henry and his big dog Mudge, and now my wine glass is a sturdy creature that used to hold jam from the farmers' market. We do have one wine glass leftover from the eight-year-long stemware massacre; I save it for special occasions, like when all my children are somewhere else after seven o'clock at night. It's not that they are malicious, jealous little people who insist the greater portion of my attention be on them, not my wine, but everywhere they go chaos follows and wine glasses suffer. Someone breathes weirdly in someone else's ear and the whole room erupts. Someone mutters an offending comment on the nature of someone else's artwork and battle ensues. No, my house is not conducive to stemware. Someday my lone wine glass will have friends again. But for now it holds a certain allure, a timeless grace wrought by its solitary stature. I can go on vacation just by sipping near-decent wine from a special vessel, without ever leaving my couch.

Last week in the midst of all of the end-of-school thesis chaos my husband brought me flowers at work. Not the cut bouquet type of flowers that need arranging, a water-filled vase, and will die shortly afterwards; but rather a lovely scarlet-colored cyclamen known as Tianis Fantasia. (It seemed an aptly named gift, a cycla-men from my bike-riding husband.) Wordplay aside, after taking off the plant’s protective clear wrap, I made sure to read the instructions. I went over everything at least twice so I wouldn’t screw anything up. I knew that I needed to water the plant from the bottom, and not too often. Unfortunately, I came in a few days later to discover the stems splayed everywhere, the poor plant dying of thirst. I set it in a container of water, and in a short time all was well. The first thing you notice about the plant is that the flowers are quite striking; they seem to mysteriously spring up out of the green leafy undergrowth. As the stem that holds them extends, it is bent then begins to right itself; the flowers start to unfurl, darkening as they open. The leaves appear so sturdy and the flowers so vibrant but delicate--each depending on the stems to hold them aloft. This is the part of the plant that is neither showy nor eye catching, but is necessary. A quick look outside reveals the bare stems that are sticking up out of the snow, they are a promise of the season that awaits us. A renewal, rebirth, the relief/re-leaf of Spring. Like our bones or spine, they add structure, a rigidness that defines and supports us. In a way they are like husbands who know you’d rather have a growing plant than a dying floral arrangement, sturdy and dependable with a burst of color or surprise when you need it most.

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