A good seder

I did a little cooking for the seder Sunday. Basically we cooked all day Monday until it was time to pack up and head for Dan and Janice’s house. The seder has grown too large over the years to fit into our small diningroom. The Silvermans have a big open space on their first floor that can accommodate up to 22, 23. Woody made his famous matzoh ball soup. I make charoset, Sephardic since I cannot digest walnuts: apples, figs, dates, almonds, cinnamon, allspice, bits of ginger and kosher wine. I made a Sephardic salad for the first course with eggs of course, fennel, cucumbers and a dressing of lemon and olive soil. I also made gedempte flaisch mit abricotten, Ashkenazi, my grandmother’s recipe. I add onions, parsnips, carrots, spices and madeira to the meat and apricots. It all came out very delicious.


I let other people make or buy desserts, having had a disaster some years ago with a potato flour cake I spent hours making – it came out of the oven looking pretty and collapsed immediately to a flat mess. My friend Janet made a vegetarian tzimmes and Danny and Janice made a salad as well as chocolate covered matzoh. Emma Rose made an apple cake and Helen made a fruity cake with almonds and orange peel. I’ve known Emma Rose since she was born into the commune where I had a room in Cambridge many years ago. She’s working in the film industry. She drove from Cambridge for the seder. We had invited her to spend the night, but she had to go to work on the film at eight the next morning.


I had put a fair amount of new stuff into my haggadah about Trump, refugees, the war on women and other timely concerns. We had enough leftovers to share them with Melenie the next night when she visited from Easthampton. It was good to see her. It had been a couple of months because she was acting in a pIay in Northhampton. I gave her an embroidered blouse that our landlady in a row house in Baltimore had sold my mother to support the Czech resistance in 1944.


I’ve begun thinking about the panel I’ll be on in New York the first week in May. I have more thinking to do before I can start writing my speech. I wrote three new poems. We planted beets, Swiss chard, bullsblood, garden cress, leeks, arugula, dill, parsnips and put out calendula, pansies, fennel and parsley plants I’d started. The spinach, cress and arugula are up already and the various lettuces have germinated. Many daffodils, dark blue hyacinths, dark blue scilla, the golden Cornelian cherry are all in bloom. The path to the gazebo is lined with small bulbs in white and blue. Spring is completely here.


Spring to me is not warm days when I can wear shorts. It’s when the ground thaws, the first bulbs bloom and we can plant. I look out the window next to my computer and the main garden is no longer a patch of bare soil sprinkled with occasional weeds. Things are growing. The birds have begun singing to mark their territories. Male turkeys are strutting around like so many dinosaur-peacocks spreading their tails wide in hopes of attracting as many females as they can. Our cats are all over the house running around like crazy. Male goldfinches are bright yellow. The northern birds who winter here have gone – juncos, tree sparrows. Owls are active and the crows protest. We have to put the screens on today.


Last night we had a delightful supper with Helena Kennedy, the British radical lawyer and baroness and her son, and three old friends from the sixties, dating from Students for a Democratic Society and many decades since.


All week we’ve been working on Woody’s room, moving the furniture around in preparation for the chair that was a birthday present and was just now delivered. It should be comfortable for reading, watching Netflix or working with his laptop. Now he just needs a new light fixture to complete the transformation. I built that room for him in 1979, just before we began to live together fulltime.



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