Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hoppin' John rings in (another) New Year

Dear Sister,

Another year gone, the wheel turns again.  I find myself on an island that gives an embodied illustration of the term 'tropical paradise' and you are a stone's throw from Appalachia.  The husband is watching college football play-offs (I'm told it is the first year that the college teams are using a play-off format to prepare for Championships) and Alabama's Crimson Tide has been playing all evening.  They've just lost, the announcer informs me, but it brings to mind the hot sweltering summer days, nights of fireflies who taxi fairies in the woods, and early mornings harvesting (ok.  trailing our mother while she harvested) field peas on the farm.  I remember the dictionary I bought from the thrift store in Birmingham on whose cover some previous owner had scrawled "Roll, Tide, Roll;" I remember my six-year-old self, even less enamored of organized sports than my current self, who for perhaps the first conscious time, defaced a book and wrote in response "Please don't roll."  I remember the older self who found humor in the childish script refuting the sentiment with such firmness and such politeness.  You are on the northern edge of what can be considered 'southern cooking" and I have long and ago bypassed any Southern affiliation, claiming a home in the sub-arctic; and still:

This New Year's, as every New Years, nearly since I can remember; I cook Hoppin'John, a mixture of collard greens, turnip greens and kale, cornbread... and drink a glass or three of champagne.  Four thousand, four hundred and seventeen miles away, I know that you cook Hoppin' John, and three thousand, one hundred and forty four miles away, our mother cooks the same.  The years in the deep south have given me instant at-will access to the accent of a southern belle, and a lifelong practice of cooking Hoppin' John on New Years Day.

Across the cotton fields (whose post-harvest dried husks adorned our Yule tree as kids), the tradition of Hoppin' John eaten on New Years Day to bring luck in the new year and greens for good fortune rings across the years and across the many many miles. 

I imagine that you, like me, cook based off of the "Sundays at Moosewood" cookbook, with handwritten notes in the margins modifying the recipe.  This year, I read the recipe from a photo on my techno-magic-space-phone, and modified it again to match the ingredients of my in-laws Hawaiian pantry.  And its still the same.  Traditions such as this (watch out! I may possibly be getting maudlin from the consumption of champagne), link us across the years and across the miles; they speak to the past which helped create us, the future we will create, and the bond of sisters....

May the new year usher in three hundred and sixty five brand new days of joy and creation and love and success and laughter and great good fortune for us both!


your sister.

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