Friday, November 6, 2009
November is by all accounts my favorite month. It wouldn't surprise me if the rest of you raised your eyebrow and said "she's lost it, what's so special about November"? My love affair with November is well deserved.
November sneaks in on the tails of Halloween, all quiet and grey. Leaves that were vibrant hues of reds and golds are now a faded yellow. One look at a November sky and you know... heavy clouds, the sun teasingly peeking in and out, stark brown branches against a temperamental sky, that distinctively crisp bite in the air.
Its not just about the weather. This month graces us with 3 National holidays. Its about being able to have a choice, appreciating those who fought so we might exercise our freedom and being thankful for everything the year has brought to our lives.
On a personal note November is the month both my grandfathers were born. Antonino in Sicily in 1895 and John in New York City in 1899. I have fond memories of my grandfathers who both seemed to possess a certain twinkle in their eye. Antonino (Tony) taught me to speak Sicilian at the age of two. Nothing formal, he just didn't speak English so I really didn't have a choice. Sent to America as a young man following the death of his father in a case of "mistaken identity" my grandfather came to be known as the "Banana Man" of New York City's lower east side. He knew every fruit and vegetable dealer in the area and we seemed to walk for hours visiting them all. My grandfather was a tall man and I can only imagine taking his little granddaughter along must have slowed him down tremendously although I never once heard him complain. We were out for a good time! A field trip with him included a stop at one of his favorite haunts...the bocci ball court off 2nd Avenue and 5th Street. The excursion would end with one of his favorite snacks... a big, juicy red apple. My grandfather would place it on the table with a look of glee, admiring it and calling it an American lollipop. John, my other grandfather, was a practical joker who taught me how to juggle eggs, usually raw, much to my grandmother's dismay. We'd play dominoes, roll dice and travel the route from 9th Street to 14th Street to the old Con Ed building to pay the electric bill. We would stop at the park running along the East River and I thought it was the coolest thing to take the cross walk over while cars zipped by underneath us on the FDR Drive. Our favorite stop for lunch was the Jewish Deli on 9th Street and Avenue C. It was small and quiet, the floors were made of wood, and several tables for 2 were always available. I can still smell the steaming potato knish served with lots of mustard and of course a corned beef on rye to finish off the meal!
Those days are a wonderful memory for me and I'm sure as you turn your attention towards Thanksgiving you too can find a piece of your past to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is like a quilt to me. Its a time to become introspective, look at the fabric that is your life, the person you are today. Take time to notice your favorite colors, textures, and themes for they make up who you are. Appreciate the richness of what makes you happy, what makes you unique and respect that in others as well. Be thankful for the gifts and talents that make you who you are.
November will leave us with a fanfare showcasing a variety of fabrics, kicking off the festivities that will fill our lives for the remainder of the year. Enjoy what this month has to offer, quiet moments, walks in the chilly night air, settle in with a good book or a fun project you've been planning to start and a healthy cup of steaming hot chocolate.
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder the darker the healthier (flavonol antioxidants to lower cholesterol)
1 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of ground cinnamon
sugar to taste
Mix sugar, cocoa and 2 tablespoons cold milk in a mug until smooth. Heat the remaining milk in a small saucepan on the stovetop or in a 2-cup glass measure in the microwave just until steaming hot but not boiling. Stir in the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
Sprinkle cinnamon on top. (an anti-oxident and germ killer)