The Schumanns were all there; lined up on the stairway between our apartments like bowling pins. Grandma Rose stood her ground as the head pin. Grandpa Robbie who looked like movie gangster George Raft and their firstborn, Bert positioned themselves respectfully behind her. Remaining above was Uncle Herby; the most sweet-natured of the five siblings. My Aunt Evie, only fourteen years older than I and my favorite used her fingers as a comb to untangle Aunt Sandy’s curly hair. Sandy, who up until that moment was the baby of the family, rarely hid her disdain for me, making our encounters mostly unpleasant and sometimes a little scary. Even Spotty, the street dog that returned each night to sleep on the tiled floors between the two apartments, stayed in that morning sensing another scrap-source was arriving.Read More
One More Thing Before I Go
Last spring when the scent of lilacs followed me from the backyard into my kitchen, I thought of my mother’s distant cousin and her daughters, who, like my lilacs, visited yearly when the earth warmed and the days grew longer. I pictured us all in idyllic memories of jump rope games and playing with dolls. But, except for MaryAnn, the littlest daughter, I could not remember their names.
A few years ago, I could have called my mother. She would have teased me for my forgetfulness, asked what I was making for dinner (there was never a phone conversation where we didn’t talk about food) and repeated her mother-to-daughter mantra, “When are you coming over?” We would have shared stories of those long-ago days before hanging-up and re-joining our lives. But my mother has passed on and while the images of our family lingers-the details are lost. I write One more thing before I go, my living record for my son, in hope that one day, when he has a question I can no longer answer, it can be found in this blog.
By the last days of our North African adventure, I realized the sites that awed me; the Portuguese fort in Essouria and the surviving Roman columns of Volubilis, were built by Morocco’s conquerors. Then we entered Chefchaouen*.Read More
A dusty trail took us to the ghost city of Volubilis, whose majesty still commanded attention 1,972 years after Emperor Claudius built his farthest Roman outpost. Our guide walked ahead barely sharing the enormity before us. The mosaic floors, now faded to pink and black revealed the talents of both Roman and Berber artisans; sea creatures still life-like, gods and goddesses still beautiful. Mighty pillars loomed on the expanse, thumbing their noses at time and the elements. One column caught my eye. At its top was a huge nest; big enough to cover my chimney at home. Were there pterodactyls in ancient Morocco?Read More
I come from an Island with beautiful beaches; Jones, Rockaway and Coney Island, but Essaouira offered more than my beloved hometown shorelines. Its gusts whipped off our hats while pushing us backwards. It was my first experience with summer winds. (Jones beach is blustery in winter, but nothing like Essaouira.) A brightly colored banner overhead announced, “The Wind-Surfing capital of the World,” which is almost true- With its 70-80% wind reliability, it’s one of the top 10.Read More
Before we left for Morocco, I learned we were going to spend our nights in riads.* I won’t lie, growing up Brooklyn-poor made me distance myself from any hotel less than 4 stars. I have had my fill of vacation-bedbugs and grimy towels. I googled riad to make sure it wasn’t jargon for youth hostel. Up popped luxurious bedroom snaps (a little gaudy for my taste, but luxurious and inviting.)Read More