Memoir: Day 4 of Life’s New Adventure – A Moveable Feast

by Matilda Butler on November 26, 2010

catnav-journaling-active Women’s Memoirs with Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler, Post #17 – Memoir Journal, Matilda Butler

Blog Journaling and Memoir Writing

With homage to Hemingway’s collection of memoirs, yesterday seemed like a our personal moveable feast. It began when we made breakfast in the motel room just off Gold Beach in Oregon. We had purchased Van’s gluten-free waffles in a grocery the previous evening. Although there wasn’t a toaster, I used plates we had brought and warmed the waffles in the microwave oven. Not one to throw things away, I also had an opened bottle of maple syrup and the last of the macadamia nuts from our October (an ocean of time has passed since then) trip to Hawaii.

Elegant if I do say so. Warm waffles with slightly salty mac nuts drenched in maple syrup, its sweet scent filling the room.

“How many trees do you think we’ll see between here and Eugene?” Thus began one of our car mental gymnastics. It all started many years ago when we drove through the Iowa countryside and calculated how many ears of corn we were seeing. It continued when we were in Spain and wondered how many olive trees we were seeing. Now we bring the question to our new state. As we drove the four hours from Gold Beach to Eugene, we began to estimate the number of trees our eyes were taking in. By one guestimate, these densely packed trees might grow 2000 – 3000 per acre. From the highway, we could usually see half an acre back on each side of the road and sometimes hundreds of acres in the distance. Well, you get the idea.

memoir-writing, memoir, using the five senses in writingOur senses unexpectedly came to life twice along the route. In Coos Bay, the car filled with the scent of cedar as we passed a lumber mill. Just about the time we smelled it, we saw massive piles, sometimes 100 feet high, of cedar sawdust. Then as we rounded one bend in the road, we saw smoke rolling across the road and then its acrid odor filled our nostrils. We turned off the car vents to keep as much out as possible. Our California experience put us on alert. Was this a forest fire? Should we call someone? I grabbed the cell phone. Finally, we realized that the smoke came from a home out in the woods and that the heavy morning air kept it close to the ground rather than letting it spiral upwards. This is the beginning of new lessons about our new home state.

We timed our arrival perfectly. We got to our motel in Eugene in time for me to shower and wash the last of the California dust out of my hair. Then on to our son and daughter-in-law’s home for our first Thanksgiving meal as Oregonians. (By the way, we had to ask how to say that word as locals pronounce the state name as O-re-gun.)

The surprise at this next part of the moveable feast? I felt settled in as the local (although newly local) family member. My role as family — who would be around rather than as guest who would soon board a plane and fly away — wrapped itself around me and made me comfortable.

The meal itself? Perfect. There was turkey and tofurky. Mashed potatoes and gluten-free gravy. Lightly steamed green beans seasoned only with lemon juice from one of my (now ex-) Myer lemon trees picked with the aid of a flashlight in the last hour before leaving our home. Jicama and greens salad with an avocado and lime juice dressing. Homemade cranberry sauce with just a touch of maple syrup for sweetness. Cornbread made with some pumpkin. Butternut squash with walnuts and wild rice. And desserts — vegan, gluten-free pumpkin pie and apple crunch. And as if this weren’t decadent enough, we topped our dessert plates with Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, a gluten, dairy and soy free “ice cream.”

So how do I feel about all of this? First and foremost, I’m grateful to have family who want us around. I loved my mother, but never asked her to move closer to me. There are lessons in the midst of all of this, and I still need to sort them out. I’ll try to do that before I find myself overstepping the appropriate boundaries between parents and adult children. I’ll probably make some mistakes, but that’s okay too.

Until tomorrow,

PS Sorry Kendra. Those mac nuts were meant for you but I never got them in the mail. Finally, they became too tempting and we opened the package. We’ll just have to get more when you and I hold our First Annual Memoir Writing Workshop next April in Hawaii.

For previous posts:

Memoir: Day 3 of Life’s New Adventure – Ours versus Theirs

Memoir: Day 2 of Life’s New Adventure – The Realization

Memoir Writing Prompt: Day 1 of Life’s New Adventure

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