from The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall


What was just right for tonight? Batty flipped through her pile of favorites. Here was what she wanted: Marvin Gaye and her extra-special favorite Marvin Gaye song, “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” She slipped the album out of its sleeve, set it on the turntable, and carefully set the needle down on the songs first groove. p 43

There are rituals that fill each day:
my cup of tea
my morning record
the book I read in bed
that line I write in my journal.

There are rituals that fill each month:
anticipating my story magazine
knitting at the inn
eating dinner with a friend
turning the calendar page.

There are rituals that fill each year:
birthday surprises
late nights at the drive-in
vacation at the Cape
holiday dinners with family.

These are the rituals that fill a life.
Some I perform by rote memory.
At times I strain to be fully aware
and not take these moments for granted.

I have performed each
so many times that they have
seeped into the fabric of my being.
They define my very existence.
You could rattle off this list
and get a sense of my outline.
Connect the dots and a picture
of me starts to appear.

If you distilled down my very essence,
would I be a
tea drinking, book reading,
watcher of late-night movies
who loves to knit, hum
and stroll on the beach?


I hesitate to be quantified
and qualified by such a small list.
But the fact remains that
these are things I love in this world—
they bring my joy and comfort.

These are the touchstones.
The familiar and
the understood.
Without them
there would be no adventure.

I think of it this way—
If you jump from rock to rock
even while the current is rushing past
eventually you’ll make it to the other side.

Without my tea and my books, just who would I be?

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