Thursday, August 23, 2012



rubylane sales image

Y’know, when you were a kid and you used to get that smallest Whitman’s Sampler in the box with maybe six pieces in it from your favourite Aunt, and you’d hide it from yourself and ration it out just a piece at a time? Sometimes, you’d just slip open the box with that little shussssh of sweet air and rustle of paper, and maybe just take a tee-ninecy bite off the corner of the chocolate-covered caramel, so it would all last longer?


I did; I could ration those beautiful confections out like Mickey and the bean, sometimes slicing microtomic sections off with my pocket-knife.  I hid the little hearts and several boxes in a pretty crocheted bag which hung in my closet, later to hold stockings and neatly-ironed hankies, but christened with import-for-life just by dint of  holding those coveted chocolates.  That silky bag was one of the loveliest things I owned, made by my Other Mammaw, of pale variegated threads in the tiniest of stitches---it was every color of a rainbow-seen-through-mist, though the thread had a shine like my satin hair ribbons.
I loved those little boxes just for themselves, like little memories I could hold in my hand and lift to my face for a breath of chocolate, and I must say that I’ve been rationing out memories of our weekend with Kim and Mike in tiny sweet bites, as well.    Our Saturday together is stored in a special place, like that beautiful pastel bag, just waiting to be savored again and again. 
When we returned fairly early from breakfast, we all went to our own rooms to freshen up, and then they knocked, carrying their water bottles and trundling that conniving chair, and we all got comfortable to chat.   And we TALKED.  For hours.
I made a big pitcher of peach tea and we sat talking of everything under the sun---children and trips and cooking and more children, as well as what-are-you-reading, and a great segue off into such diverse subjects as Game of Thrones and the genteel gentles of Miss Read.  I have no idea where the time WENT, but in contradiction to the usual time flies feeling, I looked at the clock WAY later, and it was still just eleven o’clock.   And hours of talk-and-laugh later, it was still only noon.   I don’t KNOW what happened there, but we were in some sort of Brigadoonish cocoon or perhaps living at Scalosian speed for a time, for we were immune to minutes, it seemed, and that was weird and wondrous all at once.

And the highlight, I’m sure, was that ridiculous spectacle I made of myself in that Humpty Dumpty moment when tush and teakettle swapped altitude, and I sprawled right down on the floor.  
We’d discussed going to dinner, and maybe we would, but we never got around to deciding.  And the night before, I’d said we could have a picnic, with all that ham and the Things in Dishes we had stashed in the fridge.  We’d looked out at the inviting patio, with its cozy groupings of furniture and umbrellas, but it was HOT out there.   It got to be four or so, with more mumbles of dinner, and Mike said, “I can’t think of anything better than to have our picnic right HERE.” 


And we all fell to, with the guys sliding that neat little dining table out from beneath the computer desk, arranging chairs, going for more ice.  Kim spread a big white towel down the table and set out the food whilst I peeled several tomatoes from our garden and one of the guys sweet-talked a lady downstairs out of plates and silverware from the restaurant, instead of the paper plates I'd thought they'd get.

Chris sliced a whole lobe of that fragrant ham:
Of course, there were Paminna Cheese and sleeves of Premiums, a Braunschweiger-based “pate,” little containers of Duke’s-mayo-from-home and wonderful industrial-strength Inglehoffer seedy mustard for the ham.   Naturally,  Chris had to have a loaf of “white bread,” and that’s our little trusty green Tup of salt---that thing’s traveled more than the Astors.

Kim scattered several voluptuous peaches down the table---kinda like if van Aelst had been one to immortalize Tupperware, and we ate them in a down-and-all, chins-over-a-plate manner, like eating a juicy tomato sandwich.    Over in the left top is a plate of some of the cheeses Caro sent for them, along with jars of fig and cherry spreads to-go-with, but we didn’t even touch those. Caro's note in the cheese box:


We DID, however, delve into the cookie box, lifting the lid with great anticipation and delight, munching and sampling and probably sputtering crumbs onto the furniture as we just couldn't converse fast enough.


A perfect afternoon, WAY into evening, with the minutes flying and the hours slowed to syrup---sweetly,languorously spinning out of the bottle, laving us all.

I think the folks at Mike’s work teased him about traveling so far just to sit inside a hotel and TALK with people he’d met only once, but it was Old Home Week and Howdy-Do all at once.   Getting to know, and knowing perfectly already. 
Godiva, Laduree’, Fauchon, a five-pound, ribbon-tied satin box from a handsome swain---none of those could equal my memories of the charm and taste of those long-ago little Whitman’s boxes, and I don’t think I’d be remembering a Grand Tour with the fond reminiscence attached to that wonderful day with those dear friends.


steelersandstartrek said...

I don't know how we talked so much without lapping ourselves and repeating early conversation later in the day! It really was a marvelous day, and without qualification the very best ham I have ever eaten! Next time we do this, though, we needn't worry about "ample sitting space in the lobby," which was one of the required specifications I was given. We all did just fine partitioning that hotel room into a bedchamber, dinette, and parlor!

Kim Shook said...

I agree with the Mr. and you. It was a magical day! Oh, to be neighbors!

Chesapeake said...

Again, so glad you four got together again. Now to conjure a time for the six of us, if the Earth could stand that gathering!

Jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Hi Rachel, It feels so good to read your wonderful words without feeling rushed. Your story about the lovely Whitman candy boxes sure made me smile. However, I was never able to dole out or take tidbit bites of chocolate candy. I remember popping the whole piece in my mouth and then having much remorse when it was gone. HA! I admire your patience do eat the lovely treats "your way." Do you still have the bag your Mammaw made you? It sounds like a pretty treasure with sentimental value you keep forever.

How wonderful to be with new or old friends and to connect so well. There is nothing more pleasing then to have long talks with friends and wonder where the time went. It sounds like a good time to me. The picnic anywhere would be a treat. It is great to have such sweet memories Rachel.

I am so happy for the trip that gave you happy memories.

Love, Jeanne

Beverly said...

I've never been much for chocolate candy, but I am of course quite familiar with Whitman's samplers. My paternal grandmother always had candy at her house, and she loved it all.

My mother is the chocoholic in our home, and she, like Jeanne, pops them in whole and closely followed by another.

I have however savored your special weekend. You have pulled me in with your words of fellowship, friendship and love.

I count you among my blessings, dear Rachel.

Tonja said...

Oh, how I enjoyed catching up with you. My life has been so crazy the past few months that blogging and even reading my friend's blogs has gone by the wayside. But, I'm back and ready to see what everyone has been up to.

I remember those Whitman boxes. I loved too the design of the it fit together. I remember storing crayones in mine. But to me that was a treasure. I loved my crayons! I even tore up my Big Box of 64 Plus Sharpener! Managed to get the sharpener out and put it along with the 64 into their wonderful new home! The smell? Crayon with a subltle overtone of chocolate!

Sounds as if your trip was a real winner! So glad you were able to experience this time with friends. Nothing better!

Darlene said...

On my blog under the Marie Antoinette tea party you can see these party favor packages all wrapped up. Originally there was a little box of russel stover boxes of chocolate in there but my daughter kept having a chocolate craving and one by one we unwrapped them gently to steal the chocolate. That sounds so bad but we couldn't help it. Your story of the little box of chocolates reminded me of what we did. take care, Darlene