It has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street and the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees, of birds’ hung havens, hangars. People go by; things go by. Now is the night one blue dew, my father has drained, he has coiled the hose.
On the rough wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts. We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there.…They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet, of nothing in particular, of nothing at all in particular, of nothing at all. The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near. All my people are larger bodies than mine,…with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night. May God bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away.
After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home.
My son, Carl, recited this as our prayer for Christmas for our family and our thirty guests. (It’s from Samuel Barber piece, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, from James Agee’s poem.) Beautiful, peaceful, heart-warming. My heart bursting with love for my sons, Ted, Carl, and Scott, and my lovely wife, Terry.
We then joined for a delicious repast, featuring sirloin-tip roast, cioppino, homemade bread and desserts, hand-tossed salads. Loud chattering, laughter from all around, sounds of children just having a grand time. Added to this was the 2003 Melville Chardonnay flowing from a 3 liter jeroboam bottle that stood three feet tall. Still fresh and youthful, with aromas of citrus and slate and tastes of tropical fruit and pears. It was delicious and proved Robert Parker wrong. He said it would only last until 2008.
Then, on New Year’s Eve, our friends, Sandra Chiusano, and her son, Jonathan, visited and came bearing some of Jonathan’s award-winning beer. He’s the brewmaster for Taps in Orange County. He brought four growlers, Irish Red (the gold medal winner at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival); Nectar Injector Double IPA; Bohemian TAPSody; and Port and Beans, a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Porter with Coffee, another gold medal winner). The Red was my go-to beer, balanced beautifully between a blonde lager and a dark Irish ale. Quite intriguing was the Port and Beans, a potent brew with 10% alcohol. It’s my first beer that had layers of flavors. Starts with the brooding whisky note, moving to coffee and espresso, and finishing with understated chocolate. It was a great reunion with old friends.
Home, family, friends, good food and wine and brew – a memorable end to the year.