August 15, 2023

A Love Gathering

With my sons Anthony and David

As the sun moves toward the horizon, seven people sit around a table on my son Anthony’s stone patio—two women, four men, and one white haired crone. Two of the men are my sons, but I haven’t been with both of them at the same time since December.

That afternoon, David and I buy food for a feast for Anthony’s friends visiting from the west coast and snacks for a Saturday night music campout. David doesn’t mind doing the shopping on his own, but I want to spend time with him in the quiet of his car.

My new family role is watching my sons and their friends create and cook in their own style. Although I made a great blueberry cobbler last week, I’m rarely the one organizing food and cooking these days which is OK with me. I contribute by paying for groceries at the health food coop.

Shawn and Tony cooking











When David and I arrive at Anthony’s place, Shawn is making a pot of the world’s most delicious corn soup with homemade croutons. Last night Anthony’s friend Steph met Shawn and Kelly at the Rochester airport and drove them to Anthony’s place. Anthony’s friend Tony has been on a writing retreat for a month at Anthony’s small second cabin, so I already know him. While Shawn creates an unforgettable corn soup and fills Anthony’s house with fragrant steam, Tony makes salad and grills salmon.

Steph gives me butterfly tattoos for the next night’s musical gathering, just for the fun of it. It’s joyful to be with my sons and their friends despite my damaged hearing.

I miss much of what’s being said around the dinner table. Everyone talks fast and laughs, as I used to do. I miss the jokes, but they aren’t essential. I hear their laughter and eat delicious food for the joy and pleasure of being together. If I need to hear something like “the grill’s on fire,” they’ll make sure I know.

David, Steph, Anthony, Kelly, Shawn, & Tony (in dim evening light)

As we drop croutons in our soup and begin sipping, everyone grows quiet. I give up trying to hear what everyone is saying and enjoy the compliments for the cooks and constant jiving. I feel a nourishing sense of belonging. After the sun sets over Anthony’s pond, we look for fireflies but it’s late in the season, so we only see a few.

Vic would have loved this gathering, joking with our sons and their friends and sharing good food, Anthony’s beautiful gardens, and the friendly community. Even though Vic’s body is gone, his love is with us tonight.


Who does the cooking in your world? Both my sons are excellent cooks and gardeners. Anthony’s friend Tony gets my award for most beautiful presentation and Shawn gets the award for best corn soup ever created. For other posts about sharing meals with my family, see Brotherly Bonds. For a post about handling hearing loss and getting a cochlear implant in 2019, see Relighting the Vital Fire.


  1. August 20, 2023 at 9:06 am



    I can so relate to the banter and repartee and the way it zooms by. Until it happens to them, people just don’t appreciate how much gets lost in the ping-ponging chat. The back and forth is just too fast. As for me, I do the cooking now, by default, but he could make rib-sticking meals with little apparent effort. I just can’t get that roux quite right… Looks like a lovely gathering and I’m glad you got to absorb the in person caring and sharing, especially after that long 2+ years we just emerged from.

    1. August 20, 2023 at 2:31 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      I’m sure you can relate to the experience of being with people you want to communicate with while having no idea what’s going on. I imagine myself in a foreign country where I don’t know the language. I can talk with one or two people fairly easily if I can read their lips and there isn’t much background noise. Most social occasions don’t meet those demands. The food was excellent and love was palpable. I have to settle for that at a larger gathering, but I’m always relieved to be back in the silence. I have to push myself a little to stay socially involved because it’s so much easier to be alone. Thanks for commenting since I know you get it. Few people do. May all be well with you.

  2. August 19, 2023 at 11:16 am

    Aladin Fazel


    What a lovely event and memories, my sweet friend, Elaine. I am so happy to see such a dearest moment for you and your loved ones. Wishing you all the best.

    1. August 20, 2023 at 2:23 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, Aladin. I wish you weren’t going through such a hard experience with what’s happening in Iran. I read about it and think of you. May the government find a heart.

  3. August 17, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    Jean Raffa


    Just lovely. Gave me the warm fuzzies! Jeanie

    1. August 17, 2023 at 6:10 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, Jeanie. It’s a rare treat to have both my sons home at the same time–and these guys are all great cooks and take care of everything, including me.

  4. August 16, 2023 at 9:12 am



    Sweet and delicious!

    1. August 16, 2023 at 9:49 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Yes, it was both. Thanks, Harriet.

  5. August 16, 2023 at 3:50 am

    Lauren Cottrell Banner


    I can feel the comfort of being with both Anthony and David together and of course their friends too. It’s a party I might have crashed if I had been in Hector! Did you get the recipe for the soup?
    I had a fabulous meal last night cooked by Mia. I’m in Scotland visiting her. I love it here!
    She’s made friends with a South Indian guy who has been teaching her how to cook Indian food. He came over last night last minute after she had already made a sag paneer. Otherwise he probably would have cooked. He loves cooking. So even though the sag was done he immediately finished it with browning garlic ginger and a bit of paprika to drizzle on top. It was fabulous. Soon we will go to his house where he’ll make iddly and sambar, yum!

    1. August 16, 2023 at 9:02 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      We would have invited you if you were in the area. My sons consider you their auntie. I have a general idea about the soup. The key is cooking the whole corn, including cob, then cutting off the kernals and tossing the cobs back in the pot before scraping a second time. There’s a distinct delicious flavor contributed by the cob. There were also fresh herbs from Anthony’s garden, but other than garlic and parsley, I’m not sure what. I will ask Shawn.

      I know you’re in Scotland and how great to see a few photos on FB of the narrow stone streets. And Mia can cook Indian food! Sounds like Mia has found an excellent friend who knows his way around the kitchen. I look forward to hearing your adventures in the Land of the Unicorn. Sending love from here.

  6. August 15, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    Marian Beaman


    I smiled all the way through this post, feeling the joy you experienced in the car, in the kitchen, and around the table. How well I understand the feeling: “David doesn’t mind doing the shopping on his own, but I want to spend time with him in the quiet of his car.” I too cherish time alone with my adult children.

    Thanks for letting me feel a nourishing sense of belonging with you guys. By the way, that butterfly tattoo is SO cute, Elaine!

    1. August 16, 2023 at 8:55 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      It’s a pleasure to be with our adult children and see who they’ve become. I had to make an effort to get time alone with David since there was so much action here. Just sitting next to him as he drove was a treat. These guys are all excellent cooks and Anthony’s friend Steph gave me three butterfly tattoos. Of course, I chose the Monarch that night, just for the fun of it and she put it in just the right spot. I loved a few moments of playfulness and the tattoo was still in place the next morning.

      1. August 16, 2023 at 11:09 am

        Marian Beaman


        Earlier you mentioned being dubious about the return of the Monarchs. So happy to hear they are once again thriving in your hospitable home.

        1. August 17, 2023 at 8:21 am

          Elaine Mansfield


          Thanks Marian. I can’t say they’re thriving, but there are some Monarchs around. I rarely see them, but find eggs on milkweed plants. Last year I raised and released around 200 by migration time in late September. This year I hope for 50 since there are few butterflies in the fields and gardens. I found four caterpillars yesterday, so my mania continues.

      2. August 24, 2023 at 7:31 pm



        A love gathering, indeed! And so many delicious images from words and photos to nourish body, heart and soul: corn soup (never knew about the flavor added by cobs), homemade croutons, butterfly tattoos, exuberant sunflowers, music, family and friends. And I bow to the way that you allow yourself to participate without being able to hear, with all that entails. I have to work hard at times to not wallow in feeling left out when my health keeps me from joining in the way I want to. And then I am usually able to bring myself to gratitude for what is, while still making space for the sadness.
        Hard to believe we’re heading into the end of August. With all the wildfires and smoke, the rains can’t come soon enough.
        Sending love, Anne

        1. August 26, 2023 at 10:21 am

          Elaine Mansfield


          Hi Anne, I participated by just being there. I didn’t do any of the food preparation or cleaning up. Everyone there knew about my hearing, so if they really wanted to communicate with me, I let them make it happen. Sometimes it drives me crazy and I do plenty of lamenting about my hearing, but it doesn’t help. The best thing is to find all the ways I can thrive in quiet and solitude–with reading, with one friend at a time, in Nature, or with Disco who doesn’t require conversation. I’ve also had to learn to say no to social invitations I know won’t work for me, plus I’m having more trouble hearing the two Zoom classes I attend and don’t know if that will get worse. Meniere’s Disease is a fickle companion.

          The butterfly season is winding down after starting at least four weeks later than usual. The 50-60 raised from eggs this summer tended to eat milkweed like crazy, go through chrysalis stage, become butterflies, and head south. They seemed interested in migration rather than procreation, but it’s hard to know what they’ll do since their rhythm was thrown off by the Canadian fires and unusual June wind directions pushing the Monarchs south when they needed to go north. They also began the season with about 3/4 the usual population. We’ve had an unusually cool and wet summer which is confusing considering the rest of the Earth is roasting and drying up. I’m sorry you’re struggling with smoke. We haven’t had a repeat of the terrible smoke blast of June. A blessing that may not last when the north winds blow out of Canada. Sending love and clean air to you.

  7. August 15, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    Deborah Gregory


    Dear Queen Bee,

    Oh, I love your love gathering! And thank you for bringing your words to life by including wonderful photos. How great it must’ve been to share food and reconnect with David and Anthony (and their friends too) in person. Soul food of the highest calibre I’d say! Mmm, your blueberry cobbler sounds delicious (I have a sweet, sweet tooth) and I love your new tattoo, Mama Monarch!

    In my world, cooking duties have always been shared by both of us, although Lin is definitely more adventurous in the kitchen and loves nothing more than creating dishes from scratch, including making her own sauces. On that note, as we’ll be approaching apple and blackberry season next month in the UK, I expect I’ll be making several crumbles and pies for the freezer real soon.

    I hope all’s well in your world my dear friend and your nursery is filling up now with eggs, caterpillars and all those beautiful newly e-closed butterflies! I can’t imagine readjusting to life after Willow’s death has been easy, so I hope you and Disco are doing well and both of you are getting to see friends and taking long, leisurely walks through your forest and land, regularly.

    Oh yes, and before I go Elaine, Shawn’s soup sounds amazing!

    Love and light,


    1. August 16, 2023 at 8:52 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, dear Deborah. It was an unusual pleasure to be with both my sons and Anthony’s visiting friends. Besides that, they’re wonderful cooks. I didn’t make blueberry cobbler or anything at all for this gathering. I was always the cook in my marriage and Vic was the sous chef and the one who did cleanup. He made terrific salads.

      I have about 12 chrysalises and 40 or 50 small catepillars in the Monarch nursery. It continues to be cool and wet here, so there are few butterflies on the wing and few eggs being laid. I’ll look again on a warmer day and see what I find, but releasing 50 butterflies (1/4 last year’s count) feels good since I expected zero for a while. Many in this area are seeing no Monarchs or only a few. Disco was four yesterday. I wonder how that happened so fast. Have a terrific end of summer rest. I’m sure you’re taking great walks and reading good books and maybe writing poetry. Sending love over the low gray dripping clouds through the light above them.

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