Sunday, May 15, 2011

Relativity Demonstrated


Lamb cake for the party


This was a weekend of beginnings and endings. My smallest granddaughter was feted at a Welcome To the World party Saturday, hosted by her happy parents and attended by dozens of family members and friends. I baked a cake for the little Bean in my own Memere's old cast iron lamb mold. For once, the ears did not stay stuck in the pan, the frosting was as light and fluffy as cotton wool, and the lamb's head did not topple off when I lifted the cake plate to carry it to the table. The day was a whirl of cooking and eating, of laughter and music and joy in new life.


Sunday was, in sharp contrast, a farewell occasion for an old friend. In a standing room only church we listened to the singing of Danny Boy, the saddest, most poignant song I know. Tears wet every cheek and talk afterwards was of missing and loneliness and sorrow. Rain fell first in a fine mist and then in torrents as if the very skies wept at this man's passing. 

I know that sorrow and joy are two sides of the same coin, that in this world of opposites we experience both, not always equally and not always with equanimity and we prefer one rather than the other, but there was some measure of comfort after the service as we recalled this gentle man's accomplishments, his delight in small things, his great love of family.

The little Bean will grow into her own life, will experience her own moments of great joy and deep sorrow. Her life will unfold and she will live it as best she can. My old friend's memory will live on in the minds of those who knew and loved him. His hand is everywhere I am, in the patches and repairs to my tiny cottage of which he was landlord, in the farm animals and buildings, and the meadows and woodlands that surround me and that he loved so well.

These two days - one of joy and one of sorrow - have had a hand in shaping my own life as all our days do, though we don't always notice it in our self-involvement. As a reminder that in the midst of both life and death there is something worth treasuring, the lilacs bloomed both days.

13 comments:

Brian Miller said...

smiles. we take them both...they come quicker these days...and in the midst beauty smiles.

Molly said...

It is a mixed bag, this life, isn't it? What a lovely tribute to your friend, R.I.P. A life well lived---delight in small things, love of family; sounds like he had his priorities right.

Good luck in life to your little Bean! Looks like she's got a very handsome lamb to lead the way.....Oh no! You all didn't eat him , did you?

Judith said...

So difficult to photograph lilacs and capture their delicate beauty and intensity --
But you did it. And you notice, no doubt, that at the tip are the blooms still to open, while the rest are full and fragrant --
And you know they'll rust and wilt, and then there'll be no more lilacs --
Until next year, when they will faithfully come again. Your friend was a farmer, yes? And you are a woman of the land. Who knows better the cycles and inevitabilities of life? And who loves them better?

steven said...

pauline - standing and sometimes dancing in the worlds of people entering and departing is like standing on a sort of perceptual fulcrum. it allows for the sensations you so clearly describe and then the perspective that comes with the fullness of their experiencing. i wold love to taste the lamby cake!! steven

Barbara said...

Life is such an ebb and flow. Kudos on the lamb cake! I've never seen such a thing.

Ruth said...

There is deep tension in both bookends of life, I find. While there is powerful hope and delight in that little bean, there is also the knowledge of all the challenges that lie ahead, and that final one, after a hopefully long and full and well lived life. So poignant, so beautiful.

Pauline said...

Brian - we don't have a choice about either, only the way we deal with them, eh?

Molly - it is indeed and when they come together like this, one is doubly aware. The cake was delicious right down to the chocolate chip eyes!

Judith - how perceptive you are. Yes, those buds will bloom too... it's the letting go that's so hard, the never seeing or touching a loved one again. We have to create our own comfort...

Steven - that cake was good! And yes, when one stands between joy and sorrow, loss and gain, one sees the balance.

barbara - my Memere had a cast iron lamb mold that she used to bake Easter cakes when we were children. It's very heavy but makes the most beautiful lifelike lamb in cake form. The frosting is called White Mountain icing and is made from sugar syrup and egg whites. I do not have company at Easter time so making the cake for the Bean's welcome party seemed appropriate. The mold is the Griswold Lamb Cake Cast Iron Mold 86. I've seen them on eBay...

Ruth - yes, tension is a good word to describe the feeling one gets when in the crossroads. The two days with their accompanying emotions so close together have left me exhausted but grateful.

Out on the prairie said...

MMMM that cake looks good.We used to get pans from a library when my children were younger and have fun decorating them.We went through their entire collection a few times.

Pauline said...

OOTP - when my kids were small I had a bunny pan, the lamb mold and one pan shaped like a big flower. I learned to cut cakes into shapes and glue the pieces together with frosting... you're right - it was lots of fun!

Kerry said...

All of this sorrow and joy at the same time: almost too much to bear. The lilacs are beautiful.

Pauline said...

Thanks Kerry - the lilacs helped me get my bearings between days...

Marion said...

This post touched me deeply. I imagine the tug and pull of the different emotions on the weekend were quite exhausting and yet fulfilling.

I'm so glad little Bean had a lamb cake...what a great animal to use to greet and welcome a new soul.

I've enjoyed all the thoughtful comments here. I know you will miss your landlord...a lord of the land. Great post, Pauline, as all your posts are!! xo

Bluebell Books said...

love such beautiful reflections.
bless you.



check out short story slam today. hope to see your participation.