Minimum Soup


First, a confession: this post’s title has utterly nothing to do with today’s lukewarm pail of twaddle. Yesterday my wife asked me to try a bit of  hot sauce in a bowl of barley soup I’d nearly finished while watching football. “Only a drop,” I cautioned. She squeezed out a drop and waited for me to try her enhanced creation. “The taste is too sharp,” I complained. She looked down at me with a disapproving expression. I rarely criticize her cooking; I rarely have any cause. “It’s because you have only a minimum of soup left,” she said dismissively as she snatched up my bowl and turned back toward the kitchen. Minimum Soup? I liked the phrase and vowed to use it as a title. And, of course, I told her later the soup was simply marvelous in its maximum form.

For about the fiftieth time in a row I am genuinely surprised autumn has suddenly arrived. Just yesterday we were in the midst of a scorching summer (or so it seems). Now, so soon, leaves are turning – and falling – and there’s more than a chill in the morning air. Next weekend Daylight Savings Time will end, pushing my close of workdays into darkness.

On the other hand, there have been crisp Fall days I remember as utterly glorious. Most of those days were spent in New York City, in October, under magnificent royal blue skies that perfectly complemented the bright yellow taxis, steel and glass skyscrapers and the surging throngs of people streaming briskly through the city. I have not been in the city in October for many years. Still, I have keen memories of the sights, sounds, smells and other delights of Manhattan during those October days and nights: Times Square at dusk, the myriad blazing signs above the crowds rushing to catch an eight o’clock curtain; the smell of steam rising through sidewalk grates mingled with the sweet and sour aromatic clouds wafting from busy restaurants, delis and food carts; hiking through the improbably green oasis of Central Park; finding an out of the way eatery in the Village; or marveling at sidewalk performers break dancing, juggling or playing jazz on a battered saxophone.

But the very best autumn day ever was the day I visited Swarthmore College in 1965. The sky was unbearably blue, the air a delicious blending of slight chill and soft breeze, and the dozens of still green, stout old trees casting scattered shadows on the  green, manicured grass. That entirely magical day cast an irresistible spell over me and enticed me to make Swarthmore  my first choice for college. The next Spring I was accepted and I began my freshman year September of 1966.


FLICKR GROUPS: Times SquareSwarthmore College

Photo credits: top,Patrick Pearse, remixed by me; bottom, Randy Lemoine; all subject to this creative commons license

Read all of VISIONS

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