1996: I turn 39

1996: Kathleen gets her learner’s license. I pay someone to plant daffodils in the yard–yes, pay. I have free time again–seven days this year, six in February and one in May. And I write on our new computer. I start a story about a woman who wants time to herself, and then I make reservations for three nights at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. It’s my first spa trip, and tears roll down my cheeks–all these people taking care of me. Back at home, I start going through a box of my grandmother’s recipes. She made the best pimento cheese. I decide I will put together a cookbook. One Sunday, the boys are in and out of the garage all morning. Around two, with Cal on the golf course, I get the two trash cans ready for Bobby and Jack to take up to the street. When I pull them out, behind one is a gigantic, curled-up snake. I freeze. I’ve never seen a snake before except behind glass. Usually I’m good in a crisis, but I’m stumped. 911? The screen door opens, and I scream at whoever it is to stay in the house. I’m still in the garage because I want to know where the snake is at all times. Bobby slips me the phone, and on the third call, I find a neighbor at home, and he (I hate that I have to call a man for help) comes with a gun and his wife–each with an opposing function. The wife cannot save this snake–it’s a six-foot water moccasin. (Our back yard goes down to a creek.) The neighbor shoots the snake–a lot of firsts for me–and a few days later, I take him a case of beer. The Summer Olympics take place in Atlanta, and we go to handball. Softball is actually here in Columbus, and we go to one of those games too. In August Charles and Diana are officially divorced. At my father’s urging, I start doing strength training. In October I go back to Canyon Ranch to do a hiking week. Cal picks me up, and we drive to Vermont to wonder at the fall leaves, taking a side trip to visit my old French camp on Lake Champlain, which is now a state park. Enya sings Anywhere Is… Kathleen illustrates Lilli’s Cookbook, and I have it printed as a surprise for everyone at Christmas.

21 days to 60


Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

8 thoughts on “1996: I turn 39

  1. I think it would be wonderful to have a family cookbook with recipes from all of the women in my family. I love seeing recipes written by hand. Handwriting is like having a piece of that person around.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have a number of venomous snakes in Australia, but like you I’ve only seen them behind glass. Your cookbook sounds wonderful, I love recipes that have been handed down, I can imagine them being cooked time and again by my great grandmothers, grandmothers, mom and now me. Thank you for sharing your memories Cynthia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the back of each cookbook, I included a plastic sleeve where I stashed a few of the original recipes… I’m so glad I took the time to pull it all together. Great to hear from you again, Karen–and all the way from Australia!


    • I did take his advice. And for a while, I even drove to Atlanta to work out with the trainer he used. And yes, still doing it–twice a week. It is interesting what each of you comments on–especially with this post!


  3. I love this sentence so much: “At my father’s urging, I start doing strength training.” So totally unexpected. I actually laughed, but not b/c it’s comical. It’s that weird sweet-funny, that strange that’s-life-funny: You play, you fight, you cry, you marry, you work, you try your Grandma’s recipes, you do strength training b/c your dad tells you to.

    Water moccasins are just horrifying. That’s the one kind of snake people always killed, growing up. They were always so damn big and full of hiss and thrash. But maybe I’m being unfair to the poor things. In your case, it invaded your home, so fairness goes out the window. But in my case, I’d watch boys find them in the creek and dispatch them. It’s a very strong childhood memory that means something I haven’t figured out, yet. Besides the obvious (primal need for man to kill snake). Something about the watching.

    You’re getting so many different comments on this one b/c it’s a particularly rich post. If you go back to whip up some essays using these posts, pay special attention to this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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