There are presents wrapped in bright paper with bows, or slipped into gift bags with tissue galore, and then there are gifts that come from the exuberant suggestion of a dear friend. Have you ever gotten one?
I did, just after Christmas, when Janet, aka Country Mouse, recommended a little memoir that she thought I would like. Her enthusiasm was so contagious and our friendship so rooted that I knew I needed to read the book. I found it at one of the libraries I haunt and was turning the pages as soon as I arrived home. It was JUST the book I needed to read at JUST the right time, and now I want to tell you about it.
When writer Suzan Colon starts feeling the wrath of the downturn in the economy in 2008, she starts to economize on the cut-backs she correctly anticipates will happen. Sack lunches and walking instead of taking the subway are a prelude for the day her job no longer exists. At her mother’s suggestion, Suzan looks to her grandmother’s recipes for inspiration. It becomes a journey of recipes and family history as she explores not only Nana’s recipes, but her writing as well, along with her own mother’s stories of survival.
I read about Suzan making split pea soup just as my own ham bone was floating happily in a pot of green on the stove, and I thought about how we all “make do” with leftovers and leftover leftovers as I put ham in with potatoes to stretch that little piggy a little further on yet another day. I thought about the pinwheel cookie I was eating and how it came to Tom’s family through a cookbook that came with a stove and how Tom’s mother wrote a letter to the government seeking permission to buy the stove during WWII rationing as I read about Nana’s recipe for butter cookies, neatly typed for Nana had gone to secretarial school, when she wanted to be a teacher and a writer, but life and times got in the way.
This sweet little book is filled with Colon’s family history and survival as she works her way through the tough economy and all it entails that many are struggling through, still. It is, to me, really about looking to our family and their stories for strength, to take each day one at a time, to enjoy the little moments in life and to allow yourself a “treat” now and then. When I finished the book, I found myself wanting more, for this little gem found its way into my heart and nourished my soul JUST when I needed it. I’m thankful for the earnest recommendation of a long-time friend and kindred spirit, and I am thankful for having read Suzan Colon’s book. “Cherries in Winter” – I JUST might need to find myself some cherries soon.