Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Keep? Or compost? (and, quietly, a memorial for Torrey Reade).

I was on my way out to the composter with these, when the sun caught them, and they suddenly didn't look so wan, and it looked obvious that they might have a second life as dried flowers ... at least for the rest of the summer.  So in they came again, and they're now part of the dust-catching apparatus in my study.

But this is also a memorial post in honor of Torrey Reade, Alice's old friend and roommate from college, who died two evenings ago.  She was an avid, daily reader of this blog, and so it seems strange not to be writing with at least an eye on her ear and eye - this is the second post that I can be sure that she'll never read.  I thought about waiting for a spectacular sunset, or capturing some quintessentially Santa Fe vista by way of a suitable farewell visual - but then, it was very clear to me that carrying on as I would have done anyway, and posting my daily image and piece of writing that works to capture that day's simultaneous quintessence and ordinariness was surely the only way to go.

As befits her desire not to make a fuss and performance about anything - especially being sick; especially dying - it's a low-key memorial, but at the same time I can hardly let her passing go without a comment (the whole of this last year has been an exercise in saying nothing here about her illness, of course - above all when we went east to visit, and when she was out here in Santa Fe in late January - and hence acts as an exemplary instance of how what's very much on one's mind is very much what one doesn't write about).  So this is to say: I'll miss her.  I'll miss her sharply inquiring mind - about what one's been reading; about what one thinks of what one has read; about what one should read.  I'll miss the passion with which - especially two summers ago - she entered into the culture and history of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico: she soaked up local knowledge and information and filed it neatly away in her capacious memory.  I'll miss her knowledge about farming and organic food (she ran, until quite recently, an organic farm in Southern New Jersey - a place of great serenity as well as lovely sheep, cows, and proliferating barn cats),  When she and Dick visited me in North Carolina nearly two years ago, and we went out to a local farm-to-mouth Italian restaurant in Durham, with another young couple they'd befriended, the precision and curiosity with which she talked about their interest in charcuterie, and in food writing, and their developing ideas, was spectacular.  When she and Dick flew out to our wedding in 2013, she quietly and tactfully and confidently - not exactly took charge, but kept us sane as we put the day together (and then they stayed and house-and-cat sat for a couple of nights - a wonderful gift).  And I could pile on other memories, from the first time that I met her when she came to a house-warming party we had in Highland Park in 2006, to a meal in Hamilton NJ when she'd just come from some kind of important meeting in Trenton to do with agriculture in the state (and, of course, if the tables were reversed, and she were writing about that evening and I'd just come from a meeting, she would doubtless be able to remember, even after all this time, precisely what it was).  There's no way that isn't trite to end reminiscences: it's just so very sad - writing about her necessarily brings her presence sharply back, and makes one very much the more aware of loss.

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