I’ve been ruminating. While the kids were back from Belgium, words of a parent kept returning to me

This Kutztown parent had a son who was interested in attending Vesalius College. My kids supplied details long-distance, via email or Facebook or whatever. At the end of the process, comparing all things that parents look for in a college, the woman didn’t care that tuition costs were less than, say, Penn State. No, the woman objected to the “true cost” of sending her son to Vesalius.

When I first heard this story, I immediately thought of the cost of plane tickets, postal and banking rates, and “side trips” to Budapest or Berlin or Bath. But those costs are so insignificant compared to the opportunities that abound, I told myself.

And then, overnight, teen-agers become adults. I find myself lost in a web of mother love, a purgatory of values, visas, and vicissitudes. I thought about the other “true costs”: Visits that come too seldom and end too quickly. Skype conversations, such a blessing compared to airmail; but Skype hugs and Skype tears, hollow and heartbreaking. No blowing out candles together, no sharing sunsets or moonrises, no spur-of-the-moment cups of tea.

When I was in labor with Richard, we walked around the neighborhood of Allentown’s birthing center to get things moving. Despite everything, I remember seeing crocuses blooming in the snow on that March 25th, 22 years ago. On Monday morning, February 27, 2014, I opened the Centre Daily Times to a photo of crocuses blooming around the Brussels Atomium. Connection.

Marina will be flying back to Belgium long before the tomatoes and basil go into the ground. Yet I was successful in capturing the essence of last summer with a savory tomato pie, frozen and then baked one blustery January day, just as the smell of happiness within a container of August pesto was resurrected from the freezer in February.

My niece Ansley, the psychology graduate, came for a visit. She spent a few days with her Nonna and dubbed this The House of Questions. That description bubbled with laughter then cut to the heart, reverberating through the generations. The web of mother love: In The House of Questions, where are the answers?

When our world was covered in sheets of winter, I raided the refrigerator and made a dish of roasted red cabbage and Brussels spouts drizzled in olive oil. Our white dinner plates became palettes of my garden dreaming, echoing memories of green “Envy” zinnias paired with velvety spikes of Salvia ‘Victoria’ or a fistful of the chenille exuberance of amaranth.

On seeing the deep burgundy strips of cabbage tossed with halves of emerald Brussels spouts, I was seeing my summer garden. My mother looked at the plate and asked, “What is this? I don’t know anything like this in my mind anymore.”

”Earth laughs in flowers,” Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote. Earth cries in flowers too. Laurie Lynch



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