Tomatoes and Tea

Kage Baker loved grey spring days like this one has been. Though it’s  only technically spring, for all that the plants are verifying it enthusiastically – the earth is still as cold as stone. Clouds have roofed the sky with stone as well, occasionally lifting to show last night’s snow low on the hills above Pasadena. The wind has risen steadily in force, and dropped just as steadily in temperature.

There was frost on the porch steps this morning at 6:30, when I staggered out to see if the Gawdawful screeching that had woken me was the little black cat being eaten by a coyote.  She was, fortunately, asleep in the curve of a neck pillow in the overstuffed armchair. The ruckus turned out to be a raccoon being driven out of a 3-story cypress tree by an hysterical raven. The raccoon Groucho-loped away in the eredawn, the raven stopped screaming, and I fell back asleep for a while.

So would Kage have, and then interrupted her writing all day to scout suspiciously for returning raccoons and soothe our outraged parrot. She would have wandered down into the garden, restlessly pulling weeds and checking to see which roses were budding early – as the Purple Tiger is doing even now. She’d have trimmed some dead wood, moved some planters, maybe planted out a flat of pansies or primroses. It would have taken the threat of hypothermia to drive her indoors today, when the lure of the words in her head finally overpowered the perfume of the dark earth turning under her spade.

I had errands to run, too, before writing. Duty calls even on Saturdays, though we obey happily in the service of personal projects. I was off to the host nursery of Tomatomania – the glorious Tapia Brothers in Encino this weekend – and returned triumphantly with a baker’s dozen of exotic and heirloom tomatoes. Red, pink, orange, black, purple – gonna be serious sandwiches and carnivale sauces when these beauties set fruit.Got some gorgeous early strawberries, too, damn near as big as eggs and breathing perfume like lumps of frankincense.

Then I went to Pasadena for tea with some old Faire friends. We ate melon and prioscuitto and home-made scones, and sipped good black tea from china cups; while gleefully recalling the days when we were all young and careless of our underwear, and tended to lose things  in the woods at night … it’s good to discover one can still howl with laughter and play Do You Remember? with your friends, no matter how much we all resemble staid matrons these days. It lifts one’s spirits to find that all the grey hair and creaky joints and ladylike behaviour are a mere gloss over the Maeneds one grew up with.

I can still discern those nymphs peeking out, Chris, Sandra … they peer from behind all our bifocals like startled does through the ferny brakes of old Chipping-Under-Oakwood. It’s an image I took back to warm me through the grey-granite evening tonight. The power went on and off, keeping me from writing until just now, but I feel very calm about it. Must have been the company of good ladies with whom I was once a part-time bacchante, warming up the tired old blood in my faltering heart.

Kage kept a fire like that burning all the time in her head and heart. I have not quite learned the trick of it yet, myself. Days like this one help me learn, though. I can sit by the fire now and look back on the day with a certain satisfaction. Not a lot of work done, but some limbering up in the area of joy; some much-needed practice in the arts of relaxation and remembrance. Really good scones and 13 amazing tomatoes plants.

Not bad for a grey cold Saturday.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to Tomatoes and Tea

  1. widdershins says:

    Sounds like a goodly stash of pirate treasure to me.


  2. MaggiRos says:

    “gleefully recalling the days when we were all young and careless of our underwear, and tended to lose things in the woods at night … ”

    Oh my yes. 🙂


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