Friday, July 29, 2011
Turkish(ly) Delight(ful times)
“Let’s pause from this period of intellectual enjoyment and take a moment to ponder the meaning of friendship.”
Such sentences are not uncommon from my very dear, intellectually stimulating cousin Amanda. We’re both sitting at the kitchen bar atop two tall wooden bar stools, the legs characterized by the loving mark of Vincent’s claws. The sky outside the glass kitchen doors leading to the porch is black, dotted with the light of scattered stars.
Amanda and I are huddled over a handful of literature books, drooling over Hopkins, T. S. Elliot and W. B. Yeats. Amanda points out Hopkins’ use of nature and Christ, and the sense of excitement he conveys. I point out Yeats’ ability to transport his reader into a completely different world, time and dimension with the power of words. I like Hopkins' use of nature as well, as Amanda has me read a poem of his for the first time, and Amanda reads some Yeats and says she likes him, but he's not her favorite.
We’re in heaven. The calm night sky pours in through the windows, most of the family is filtering into bed, and Amanda and I have the run of the kitchen to discuss literature to our hearts’ content as we wait for our Turkish Delight to settle (yes, we made Turkish Delight).
The sentence that began this post, about the meaning of friendship, pleasantly interrupted our English powwow when Esther, Hannah, Tabby and Julie came upstairs to show off their new fingernail art.
“Let’s pause from this period of intellectual enjoyment and take moment to ponder the meaning of friendship," Amanda says to the girls as they fill the kitchen with the aroma of freshly-popped popcorn.
The girls, caught a bit off guard, but seemingly interested, paused for a moment. Once they'd pondered the question, a list started pouring out of the qualities of a good friend. They jumped right in. Esther told us about her friend from church that no one else gives the time of day to. It's not a pity thing, she said, but a desire not to leave her behind because she cares about her.
Why are you friends with your friends, we asked. The discussion continued, as we got a glimpse into the world of these girls' ideals and principals, probably without them knowing it. They may only be 9, 13, 15 and 16, but they know what's going on. And they know they're still learning, too. So do Amanda and I.
We asked if friendships should be rooted in obligation. We all know each other because we're cousins. But we're friends because every year we're discovering more dimensions of awesomeness. Amanda's love of literature, ballet, the simple joy of a well-constructed sentence, love of laughter and storytelling skills with seamless comedic timing. Katie's and Anna's adventurous spirits in lands of the great unknown, Katie's fashion sense, Anna's great taste in television, Emily's cool, calm and collected smarts, caring spirit and ambition, yet slap-happy ridiculousness. Josiah's easy-going nature, ever-present smile and good-natured sense of humor. His and Peter's appreciation for the Onion News Network and tennis. Peter's level-headedness, intelligence and deadpan humor. Julie's disdain for mushrooms and mad violin skills. The list goes on and on.
Needless to say, combining these personalities makes for some pretty legit shenanigans, from our intellectual discussions concerning the intent of authors and their literature and the true meaning of friendship to dappling in the world of allrecipes.com user comments, how the Turkish Delight looked like a festering caterpillar and a nail-biting account of Amanda’s car troubles. And of course, Peter’s caution that google-ing a recipe is sketchy unless you scroll down to at least the third one.