Yesterday our daughter Martha and her partner Lisel took us out for early dinner in San Anselmo — delicious mole at a place with the unlikely name of Taco Jane’s. We sat outdoors in the late sun, right next to a tall Altissimo rose. Altissimo has single flowers the size of salad plates, flowers of a vibrant, saturated true red that ping your eyeballs.
Then this morning, just after we’re off the phone with Jenny from New York, Tina’s brother calls — today is his birthday too, two years older than his kid sister — and another rollicking conversation ensues.
Brendan and I are putting breakfast on as I type this (I can hear the water about to boil). After, we set off for a birthday hike at one of Tina’s favorite places, Ring Mountain, above Tiburon.
Next weekend, a more formal family birthday party, and on Monday Jenny (Wren) arrives, breathless, for a five-day visit, fresh from producing a show in LA.
Here’s a poem from 2002. Happy birthday, Tina!
Pancakes and Syrup
. for Cristina on our 28th Valentine’s day
Gabby Pahinui’s spilling us the music of He’eia,
King Kalakaua’s sad-sweet timelorn anthem:
an ocean passage long ago, love and sighing surf,
a mistaken woman, but ‘o Halala i ka nuku mana
. –what a big bird’s beak he had!
It’s our fourteenth day of February; just outside
bright and careless plums are bursting all their buds,
one a breathless fountain, snowy white, its sister
pink and flaunting, shameless and extravagant,
. to provoke the starveling bees.
I’ve brought to you these dinnerplatter pancakes,
red-lipped apple slices, medallions of emerald kiwi;
the rounded shoulders of the fresh-spilled syrup
lenses to magnify the steaming nut-brown crusts,
. to tease our taste and tongues.
A flannel nightgown and the fullness of your breasts,
the morning’s sunslant caught in two blue eyes,
your long-loved face: who knows what prompts me?
I lean and kiss the syrup from your open smiling lips
. before a single petal has a chance to fall.
And here’s part of an e-card that just arrived from our grandaughter and her family:
Happy Birthday, Tina!
We hope you have a wonderful day. You are so special to us and have taught this family so much. You are an inspiration to us all. Thank you for always supporting our family, and reminding us to keep our sense of humor! You have modeled the importance of cherishing those you love. We hope that you know how much we cherish you.