Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Oracle of Delphi.

I've been intrigued since our introduction in a Western Civilization class in college -- when Doric columns reached out their bony sunbleached hands and grabbed me, pulling me through the slide-projector screen. The dark classroom cloistered morning light, and funneled thoughts into siphoned history.

I always loved these "Western Civ." classes. I looked forward to them; focused, like a horse with blinders on. Everything in that class was fascinating, and had I emerged from the College Educated Egg, having incubated only information from those two classes my freshman year, I would have considered the time and money well worth it. I would have felt Properly Hatched. Ok, I know, you think this seems a horrible exaggeration. But, anyone who has taken a Dr. Hohmann class knows exactly what I mean. He animated the ancients with the gravity of mortality; while at the same time, sculpting their stories with the beauty of humanity.

More than anything or anyone else I learned about in those classes, The Oracle of Delphi captured my imagination: the trance induced by a man's decomposition, the answers of poetry, the wisdom of a woman...the mystery...

There are times in life when I have wanted, very badly, to consult with an oracle. To have rights reassured, or wrongs weighted. At certain points in life it was not just any oracle I wanted, mind you, but one fed and informed by decomposing manflesh (for historical accuracy, of course). Doesn't that sound exciting? A bit femme fatale, yes...but oh, so very exciting. After all, The Oracle of Delphi is about the power of a woman...

But I now realize that I've always had one -- an oracle, that is. Mine isn't in Delphi, and as far as I know there is no decompositional incense rising from under the foundations of her house. She may not write poetry (at least not anymore), but oh, she is wise...

...my maternal grandmother.

Long before I admitted to what spring the Winter of Discontent was leading, my grandmother confided to my mother that it might be "for the best" if paths parted...for me to walk on. Alone. I was told of these words, and was oddly reassured of right. Comforted, even.

Last year at another juncture of paths, my grandma vividly appeared to me in a dream. I hadn't been sleeping well, if at all, for weeks. But that one night I fell into a deep sleep -- "Everything will be alright, Little One," she said. I awoke at peace. Lowly hung clouds still blocked a view of the end -- but, the fog was comforting. I didn't need to know. I didn't need to see. Not just yet. I just needed to live on my mountain...to welcome the fog.

Months ago she wrote, lettering her hopes for a "Special Christmas," even though I wouldn't be going home to family. And indeed it was. It was special.

Recently she spoke again, words wafting from salmon -- "A coincidence!" she marked. I could hear her voice's sustaining ring of awe at always seeing a hand at work.

My grandmother is a writer too, you see. She writes weekly to her grandchildren and her children, scattered about the world as thistle seeds to the wind. She went on, "I mentioned in your note that I would like you to write about salmon. And there it was! Even before you got my note."

A coincidence...

...since, I have wanted to eat salmon again. And this time, I would cook for the chef who my grandmother was now so curious about.

When my grandmother talks and when she writes, I listen. And --- I wonder...what is going to happen next...



~ Seer's Supper ~
Sockeye salmon fillets, sauced with horseradish, sour cream, green onions, lemon juice, and butter, baked on a bed of spinach. Served with roasted fingerling potatoes.



4 comments:

  1. "I've been intrigued since our introduction in a Western Civilization class in college -- when Doric columns reached out their bony sunbleached hands and grabbed me, pulling me through the slide-projector screen. The dark classroom cloistered morning light, and funneled thoughts into siphoned history. "
    That was one hellovan opening...I too loved those classes. And the accompanying text books! I never wanted to sell them back to the school...I believe I kept most of them. Now that I think of it, my maternal grandmother may have possessed oracle-like traits. But she is dead. And she had a slightly sadistic sense of humour. Now she shows up in the purple streak paint of a new pickup truck. Or, for no apparent reason throws me out of an airplane...

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  2. As soon as I read your beautiful piece about oracles (and before I read the above comment) I was mentally composing a response about my own suspected oracle who was the kind of woman you loved or hated....a force of nature!!! It seems the above commenter and I are thinking of the same person. Treasure yours as I'm sure you do although yours sounds sweeter than ours.

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  3. Forces of nature, personified or no, are terrifyingly beautiful things...(and people).

    Hart - I most certainly do treasure mine...

    Jay - I could never sell my textbooks back either. And I still have all of my three-ring binders spewing notes (and angled doodles)...and a final paper on early Christianity and Greek Stoicism. I loved doing research for that...

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