The senses are born to savor. Awake and link to memory all that you are taking in.
Flavors : The perfect citrus jems; the meal salted, plated, warm; the scrumptious offering of garden fresh snap, the sizzling simmer saucing; the sweet!
Your eyes close in pure delight. Flaky, croissant crust sugared and warm, fresh out of the oven of the orange colored corner patisserie on the Rue de Scipion near Les Gobelins. The French do know food. The 400 + types of cheeses with names like handwritten love notes beckon you in almost as fast as their breads and sweets. No telling when you’ll taste anything like it again, so you sample it slowly letting each almondy bite melt you until you feel that “Killing Me Softly” was perhaps written about a croissant.
Whispers : A bee’s buzz, a church’s chime, an ocean’s wave, have you flung a rock across a frozen lake?
The room now quiet around you. Gentle hot breezes float through the thin curtains making them whip like sails on a boat at sea. From the one tall window of your 7th story flat in the heart of Madrid, you wake each morning to the sun cresting and climbing the frescoed clock tower. Cherub statues poise and point to the manager of time as the deep tolls of the heavy bell wake the town. A giant’s heartbeat. You can set your life by that clock for the week you spend there.
Wafts : Chocolate melted, baking bread, sweet honey roses, a lazy walk through sun-heated lavender.
Pie day at the Shire. Around August, my Hobbit fam gathers at the gazebo when the long limbs surrounding it weigh heavy with apples. They wait to be picked in bushels like the berries black and warm waiting cradled in their stickered walls for rescue. Buckets in hand, we soldier on into battle like Prince Philip against the hedges surrounding Sleeping Beauty. We emerge triumphant, stained and scratched to the elbows, buckets and bellies full. Apple peeling commences, some use old fashioned turn-cranks and some prefer to peel by hand. My uncle told me years ago that if I wanted to become a person of worth, I had to learn the art of pie baking. He took his job of supervising and sampling very seriously. So, crusts mixed, chilled, rolled out, baked. A few to eat and freeze the rest. Celebrating harvest and becoming people of worth smells like a hot slice of heaven.
Glimpses : Gaze at the pure majesty and miracle, a snowflake in your hand, a leaf turning red, the mist lifting over the valley, the night ablaze with stars.
I missed the bus every morning growing up. Every. Day. My poor mother. For all of elementary school, I wandered, wondered, paused in amazement on the lone long driveway down the hill to the bus stop. My rounded patent leather toes pointed into each and every icy crackling puddle in the winter and I had to examine every petal of a bluebell or buttercup in spring. Their intricacies and colors called out to me, made me stop in my tracks. Nature is like the best movie being made: the special effects are so real. Time ceased to exist there on the way to the bus. I was enroute and enraptured. Time still does not exist when I am overtaken by beauty. Even now, with grown up jobs and expectations, as often as possible, I drive to the beach to watch the glow of sunset skies fade from red to grey. Magic.
Touching Souls : Odd to think that people are meant to be savored, but they are. Human interactions, no matter how mundane, can be precious.
I shook his hand. That was all. He was 92. He wrote Rebel Without a Cause when he was a much younger man. Ageless seeming, however, this pan was like the boy Peter who sprinkles the fairy dust of promised adventures, luring you with his eyes that glisten as he speaks into your soul.
Our “meet cute” was as follows. I drove to a tea and coffee place downtown to hear him speak on screenwriting. He told us of his best friends Paul Newman and “Jimmy” Dean. He grieved their passing still. He told us stories about himself and left the night open ended saying we could never write anyone if we could not write ourselves.
I walked to the doorway later and a hand caught the door and opened it for me. There he stood, eyes wide, peering into my soul. “What’s your name?” He spoke with casual kindness and open friendship. I responded and he looked down then up quickly in wonder. He took my hand and leaned in very close to my face. He spelled my name aloud. “P.L.A.T.T.E.R. A platter serves. Your name is bountiful.” With that blessing, he slipped away into the night, his lovely body guard in tow. Never before has a single greeting blossomed into more confidence or creativity. When I am blocked for ideas, he is there in my mind’s eye calling me bountiful. Bountiful. I am ever grateful for the life and words of my dear friend Mr. Stewart Stern who knew how to savor humanity and offer that gift to others. The Pan lives on and so must we echo his call to write our own truths, to be bountiful, to bless the guests at the doors of our lives, and to savor one another.
So, as we head into this mystery of a day full of faces and light and harvests and bell tolls and life, I will ask as the poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Stephanie Platter is a teacher, writer, film critic, and coffee-lover who gets distracted by beauty and still misses the bus.