Thursday, December 8, 2011
Jewish rye. I slid one, two pieces into the toaster before cracking a couple of brown eggs onto the sizzling griddle. Rye -- as much a part of my identity as my shoe size. Or the scar beside my lip. I can still see her pulling that long loaf out of her brown paper shopping bag (so much like a magician's hat), "For Nay, because she loves rye bread." And there in my little hands lay a fragrant brown loaf, that-morning-fresh from Gale's bakery. She had breezed through the door only 2 minutes before. Very much, come to think of it, like a rabbit popping unexpectedly out of a magician's hat. And suddenly a dozen wild little arms had surrounded her, and half as many shrill voices screamed "Grandma!" (I have my suspicions that she lived for those greetings). Then we'd all turn to the brown paper sac that had been dropped, or confiscated, or thrown to a chair in the fury of wild hugging. Out came the inevitable candy for James, a necklace for Sarah, a book for Rebekah, and always, there was rye bread for Nay. I can't even recall how the little tradition started. I suppose I must have enjoyed a piece one time, and she remembered. What I remember is the dignity of owning an entire loaf all by myself. That, and the dozen or so slices forgotten, dried up in the back of the bread drawer two weeks after she'd flown. The toaster dings. Two crusty slices of Jewish rye pop up. Very much, now that I think about it, like a rabbit popping out of a magician's hat.