I’ve grown up and up nursing the adage, You’re only as old as you think you are. This was usually compared with folks you ran into who would say, Old age is hell. Now I really didn’t think I was as old as I was, except at the times when my grandchildren seemed to show some respect for what could be my historical presence on the scene. The great depression, WWII, Hitler and Mussolini and FDR. Then of course I was proud of it. I could read along with them on Grapes of Wrath for their English class and offer a few personal insights that made me sound pretty smart and a valuable resource. I kept up with some of the music, knew about mosh pits, understood play dates and boys and girls actually sleeping together in the family home. I worked for The Garden Club, the democrats, the League of Women Voters, continued to do a little volunteering, did most of the cooking at home, and with Betsy kept up the gardening. Felt just a wee bit annoyed with those who complained about being old. I even offered the advice (You’re only as old as you think you are) to those who complained to me about their state of mind.
So isn’t it the pits. My hip went off to one side; my back started to weaken; I didn’t walk so well anymore. And they didn’t get any better. It turned out that I really was 87 years old and just not exactly the same woman I used to be. I found myself unable to do Skype. For a few months I sat down and contemplated the changes in my life. I bought a cane and hobbled till I was out of breath. I didn’t exactly say getting old was hell, but I was much surprised and a bit more willing to hear the other side of the story.
THEY told me I couldn’t drive and you would be surprised at my heart healthy response. Oh no, you don’t, I said, and immediately I set about getting my keys back in the ignition. You can only go so far before you start a revolution. The problem with all this was that I had accepted the far right and left of the situation–not something I would ever do in politics. There is a middle ground. It watches the changes taking place in the aging body, and helps to clarify issues. It teaches you to maintain your age and your attitude toward it on an even plane.
In a couple of weeks I’m going to get a pain killing shot in the hip, and then no doubt I will be seen buzzing around in my car, visiting, or going to a meeting or, the best thing, grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is one subject I am in complete and total sync on. I am as hungry as I thought I was, and I love to dream up menus of devastatingly delicious quality. It doesn’t get me young, but it keeps me alert.
We’re reduced to Price Chopper in January. Pie in the Sky and Annutto’s won’t be open until April or May. There is no Farmer’s Market until April either. But I can find meat at Stone and Thistle.
Now let’s see:
I have a plump chicken at the ready and I will dismember it into decently sized serving pieces, lay it out in a pyrex baking dish and cover it with plain, non-fat yogurt and small sprinkle of cinnamon. In another pyrex baking dish I’ll spoon out cup size mounds of pureed winter squash. I’ll make a dip or depression in a mound and add to that a mix of onion and grated apple and a small blob of Healthy Choice Margarine. My mind is beginning to percolate a little better now.
It must be agreed that this is a moment for Bulgar and rice pilaf. (remember the rice is brown,) all of it a bit on the chewy side, flavorful from the thyme and the 1/2 inch chunk of fresh ginger, and to finish it off a salad of Belgian endive and grapefruit nicely sectioned, and, lying together, and looking strangely alike, strips of avocado. The same color, the same shape, with a vinaigrette–but not enough to make it seem soggy.
Crazy, isn’t it. I’ve just been returned to myself, myself brought back to the beginning here by right of my vast age, back to a time when all our food except for what Aunt Fern canned was fresh and unprocessed. And by some kind of miracle I am suddenly trans formed into being as young as I feel. As young as Aunt Fern’s sous-chef, the little girl who peeled the onions and squash.