Friday, November 29, 2013

Creation Myths, Dreams, and the Family Coffee Pot

Long before your arrival here in this southern suburb of Santa Fe, there has been a patchy-but-persistent crust of snow, more notable for the gaps in its coverage than for its presence.

From about the second hour of your arrival, there have been gatherings of random orchestration, involving members of the family to which you you belong.  The gatherings take place in the kitchen, somewhere within a radius of the coffee machine, which resides on a counter adjacent the refrigerator.

The inner door of the refrigerator reflects in an unintended way one aspect of the diversity inherent in this patchwork quilt of a family.  There is soy milk, nonfat milk, two-percent milk, whole milk, and almond milk.  What does that say?

A more adept student of dietary preferences and restrictions would find ease in determining there are at least two in residence for whom major sources of protein are proscriptive of animals, limiting themselves to fish, sea food, and eggs.  There are, by your accounting,at least two who, as you've become fond of putting it, have never met a barbecue they did not like.  There are those who would, if asked, classify themselves as omnivorous, although that term has potentials for ambiguity.  You are omnivorous to the cultural limits of your awareness of anything, as in, you eat anything.  Disclosure:  you do not eat blubber.  You do not knowingly eat insects.

The word "knowingly" is fraught with potential for distraction.  When paired with the word "insects," you are thrown back in time to a former job experience, where you are seated at the cook shack for employees at the Kern County Fair, located in Bakersfield, CA.  Your reason for being there was the recommendation of a friend to try the cook shack stew, a bowl of which steamed before you, accompanied by a bowl of oyster crackers.

You'd already had two or three spoonsfull of the stew, which you reckoned to be tasty, thick, loaded with identifiable vegetables, and a generous presence of some meat that had been cubed after being trimmed of excessive fat , when a wraith-like figure appeared before you, a checkered tablecloth wrapped about her as an apron, a long, slotted spoon clutched in her hand.  "Here now,"  she said.  "Can't have  you eatin' no moths."  She stabbed the spoon into the bowl from which you ate, flicking a gobbet of gravy to the sawdust floor.

You'd not seen the moth, but for the balance of the meal, you viewed every chunk of material not readily identifiable as suspicious.

Among these momentary meetings in the kitchen, you were the only representative of your generation, thus by default some patriarchal figure, which in its way prompts another digression:  How does one comport one's self as a patriarch?  Simple solution, refer to the generations present by number.  You, therefore, are Elder Generation, or the less imposing I.  Your nieces and their husbands are II; their children, your grand nieces and nephews, are III.

Offstage characters are your own big sister, in many ways the still dominant force in terms of references to her and to her relationship with a cousin, and with you.  There were a number of outside the family visitors and encounters, some of whom would fall into your generation of I, others, because their relationship is with your nieces and nephews, either a I or a II, including a I.5 who is one of the more gifted harmonica players you have ever encountered.

Your experience in reaching the status of I brings with it a significant reason for you driving 1350 miles to get here.  That is the explication of earlier family events and the first draft equivalent of new ones.  Perfect example.  At yesterday breakfast, your Nephew-in-law presented you and him with a casserole of a dish known as apple crisp, a cheery blend of diced crisp apple, cinnamon, and oatmeal, baked in a ramekin.  The crisp had been prepared by grand niece II, and her aunt, I.  Unbeknown to Nephew-in-law II, and you tucked into the casserole.
Shortly after your joint incursion, grand niece II arrived.  The look on her face was at that moment entered into the family fable.  A sweet, mild-mannered young lady, grand niece will morph into who knows what as the story is retold and of her immediate trip to the market before closing time to secure more apples to once again make the dish for serving as desert in the main Thanksgiving feast to come.

Such simple, basic events provide elements for story, fable, myth.  A relative innocent as a participant in the "Ally and the Apple Crisp" chapter, there is no telling what part or motives may be assigned to you historically.  There are enough present who knew your father, thus the possibility of this story elevating you to the chip off the old block, the apple falling close to the tree.

In its own way, history is driven by story, sometimes at each retelling of it.

With all this as background, there is small wonder the terrain of your dreams this past night was covered with snow, coffee was ever present, your parents were seen, dancing at what you believe was the fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration your sister and you hosted for them.  Nieces, cousins, and of course your sister were all seated about the trencher at which you sat last night, tasting the cranberry sauce your eldest niece heaped on your plate, informing you this was the exact recipe your mother used.

Your dreams were a concentration of family history, all of which brought you to the breakfast table this morning, thinking of details you'd not recalled for years.

For some time in your third decade aboard this planet, you'd done considerable research in support of a project to be called In the Beginning:  Creation Myths and Start-up Stories.  Because of who and what you were then, the work would have been serious (because you believed you were so very serious about your craft) and boring (because you were so very serious about your craft).

Creation myths are intriguing stories, not only of one's individual culture, but of the family through which one entered the culture.  At such times as breakfast this morning, lunch and breakfast yesterday, and the exchange of dreams (a grand nephew, for instance, saving for and living in the dream of owning his own home, asap), you become more aware yet of the world you were born and borne into, and the dreams you have for shaping it.  And you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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