Hearts and Bones
You take two bodies, and you twirl them into one;
their hearts and their bones. So they won't come undone.
Paul Simon, Hearts and Bones
The pink candies are called "chicken bones," named for the brittle cinnamon-flavored shell that encases a slender marrow of bittersweet chocolate. For over a hundred years, they've been the signature confection of Ganong's, a candy factory in the tiny milltown my mother grew up in, just over the border from Calais, Maine.
They taste like the St. Croix river sounds through the ice in winter, the crackle of my grandmother's wood stove and the gleam of her porcelain horses, the musty smell of my mother and aunt's homemade prom gowns in their old bedroom closet, a ruin of romance novels stacked near the top of the stairs, New Brunswick summer rain on the roof above, a ransom of gooseberries and piccalilli set by in the earth cellar below.
My friend and Blogher roommate JenB went to God only knows what lengths to bring them to me in San Francisco. She's that kind of person. And then some.
We had planned to drive 1,800 miles next week to a cottage on the Bay of Fundy, just up the road from my mother's hometown. Crazy, I know. But my sister is bringing her children, and it has been three years this summer since I have seen her, my nephew and niece. Various internet friends and colleagues offered us berths along the way. We were set to go.
I don't know where the month of July went. I blinked, and here we are. Our plan suddenly seems not just crazy, but borderline reckless. Gas prices are through the roof, and the van needs a timing belt. Flying five people to Canada is out of the question.
I'm hoping to persuade someone corporate to help underwrite the trip, thinking maybe the folks who make hybrid cars might like to sponsor a series testifying that the Great American Family Roadtrip is still a feasibile adventure in the 21st century. It's an awfully long shot, though I have friends who know how to broker such things on my side.
"There's Christmas," I told Mom yesterday, when I told her the trip seemed to be in the last ditch. I've been saying those particular words for twelve years and they have yet to come to pass. If my children grow up and move away as far away from me as I have from my mother, I think I will die. When my sister and I were little girls who slept with our baby dolls between us, I never dreamed I would be a virtual stranger to her children. A picture in a magazine. A shared middle name.
Hearts of my heart, bones of my bone. When my ship comes sailing in, I'll be racing it straight down the St. Croix, up the St. John and across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to see you. And it will be Christmas, whatever the day.
Labels: we are family