March is the best-named month. Back when Rome was in diapers, and all the months got nice Latin names, the first month of the year (in Rome, anyway) got named after the god of war. They were right, whoever picked “March.” (Good job. A+ in month-naming class.)
They were right: It’s an action verb, this whole month, all about forward progress, and doing, and conquering, and in Seattle, growing. And right now, it’s marching right over me. I can’t seem to keep up with any of it: the garden, or the sun, or the rain, or the lists. I’m always a half-step behind. There are fourteen magazines on our coffee table, which is the spot reserved exclusively for Things We Must Read Soon. (Normally it’s two or three.) I’ve spent most of March so far being sleepy, but I hear the rest of the month coming, far off in the distance. Clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp. It soldiers on without me.
And so far, I’m okay with that. So far, I like my pace. Yesterday a friend called from back east, smack in the middle of the afternoon when I was busybeeing over a story. My first instinct was to arrange a time to call back. But my hands hurt from typing, and I was actually a little ahead of my deadline, so I couched myself and had a nice chat. I came back to the story twenty minutes later, refreshed.
I, for one, am not going to march. I’ll just walk, thank you. I’m going to stop and smell the flowers, and not think about how much more productive they’re being this month, with all that bud-forming, petal-pushing energy.
My grandmother came to visit earlier this week. (Being with an eighty-year-old sure helps slow the pace. Thanks, Grandma.) We drank tea out of the peacock cups and examined the buds on the bushes around our house.
June calls this The Grumpy Season, because there’s nothing to do. She divides her attention between the plants and the news, and being in my house – without a television – was a little disarming for her, I think. She doesn’t use a computer, so I relayed the news to her a few times a day, when we weren’t listening to the radio.
“Hillary won Ohio and Texas,” I told her early on Wednesday morning. We were heading out the door for a walk.
She whirled around at the bottom of the stairs, a huge grin spreading across her face. She loves Hillary.
“Really?” she asked. I nodded. “Yup.”
“Hot dog!” she exclaimed, with her hands spread out at her sides, fingers splayed and wiggling like she was rehearsing for FAME. “Hot DOG.”
Why did that expression go out of style? I think it’s the best. I’m going to make an effort to use it more. It also makes me wonder why certain foods get picked for certain sayings. I mean, hot dogs and wieners are basically the same thing, right? But you don’t hear people going around shouting “Wiener!” when things go their way.
Anyway. When grandma was here this time, we cooked. Not my food, but the food she remembers best, the food of my father’s childhood.
It was a sunny day, so we made picnic food. Baked beans with sausage and onions, to be exact.
I wonder if my father remembers eating it.
We cut and seared up two fat, fresh hot Italian sausages, and mixed them in a bowl with a big can of baked beans (the kind with extra brown sugar). We added a 10-ounce bag’s worth of brown pearl onions, boiled and peeled, along with a dollop of Dijon mustard, a big squirt of ketchup, and two swirls around the bowl of dark molasses. No salt. No pepper. Just mixed it right up, dumped it into a dish (I didn’t have her Corningware, but we made do), and baked it at 325 degrees until bubbly, about an hour.
I did cringe a little, dumping cans and bottles of things into a bowl and calling it dinner. It’s not quite my style. But I’ll admit I loved the way the sweet, sticky beans mingled with the spicy sausage under the pudding-like skin that formed across my casserole dish. I’ve been heaping it into a small bowl for the last few days at odd hours, enjoying it straight from the fridge. It’s like eating an old secret.
We had Jell-O salad, too. Lime Jell-O, with cream cheese and pineapple mixed in.
Not for dessert. For salad.
I didn’t like that too much.
Oh, how times have changed.