Snow Falling on Sibilance

There were whispers of snow again this weekend in and around the District and parts of Virginia—unusual for April, but in line with the whimsical weather of late that feels rather like living in a science fiction novel.

(Instead, it rained all morning, which always makes me feel like reading old Orangette posts and watching the “We Are the Web” video with Jennifer Hall, Tron Guy, and Peter Pan again (it just never gets old).)

Last Saturday morning, I woke up to snow covering green leaves and purple blooms on my way to the market.

snow in April

snow in April

Farmers were sharing concerns as I quickly canvassed the first Saturday of the Charlottesville City Market before changing into heels on my way to campus to moderate a panel at our department graduate conference on text and improvisation.

(My moderating duties were light as Brent Edwards, the noted jazz scholar and our esteemed conference keynote speaker, attended the panel and suggested ways to strengthen both papers at the end of the session.)

Making a late lunch for my friend Stewart and roommate Ben after his moderating duties on a panel of a Lacanian bent following mine, I scrambled the duck eggs from Planet Earth Diversified (with thicker shells and larger orange yolks than chicken eggs), roasted baby artichokes and new potatoes, and sliced hot cross buns from Albemarle Baking Company (appropriate for the holiday, but less magical than their sticky buns).

snow in April

snow in April

snow in April

Strewn across the eggs were scissored tops of green garlic from the Goat Cheese Man, one of my favorite early spring market arrivals. Friends know that I have a problem that worsens in the spring: I’m a garlic junkie.

For an EasterBQ last Sunday, I brought a bunch of green garlic as a topping for grilled meats and mushrooms and a goat cheese dessert that my friend Steph and I have agreed transcends boundaries between cheese and cake.

snow in April

My friend Eric Rettberg, a champion griller, hosted the event and cooked brats last—tempting most of us back to the table even after we had cut the excellent chocolate cake Eric’s roommate Sarah made for the occasion (she’s in the background in the third image below next to her boyfriend Jeremy with the handlebar ‘stache).

snow in April

snow in April

snow in April

snow in April

Eric and I both heart Christopher Kimball, the “Yankee Wookie” (as Achewood‘s Chris Onstad memorably characterized him in a recent James Norton Salon interview) from the illustrious, persnickety Cook’s Illustrated magazine and public television series, and we agreed Kimball’s editorial board would support flexibility in timing and courses at a grilling event.

I cut the goat cheese cake, a recipe Steph had helped me test in January (when we watched “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and determined, in this recipe’s case, goat cheese cake should be three separate words), and tried to keep the berries on top of the slices.

After picking up the camera to record me cutting the cake, and then accepting a plate, Steph took a bite and looked at me quizzically

snow in April

until I admitted that I had crossed the savory/sweet divide and subbed goat cheese laced with garlic chives from the market for plain goat cheese.

snow in April

She smiled and shook her head, whether at the garlic chive cheese incorporation, or the den groupsing of Bangles hits, led by the eternally fascinating Carolyn Tate, I couldn’t tell.

snow in April

In related Easter festivities, my friend Mica, pictured below on her recent birthday (photographer unknown),

Mica Birthday

celebrated with the more traditional Peep jousting: the competitive showdown of two sugared marshmallow blobs armed with toothpicks facing off inside a microwave.

Peeps jousting

At my request, Mica posted these images on Facebook (Ben and I are morally opposed to microwaves and thus could not hold our own competition), and as usual, added her own unique take on the activity by tagging the respective Peeps with her name and with her opponent Ashley’s name.

Peeps jousting

Search within Facebook for tagged photos of Mica, and you’ll find images with her glossy dark hair and her exploded yellow knightly representation.

The silliness of confectionary battle underscores the numbing pervasiveness of war and its insidious metaphors in the current American collective consciousness deplored by the tactical humanist Kurt Vonnegut, author of the controversial Slaughterhouse-Five based in part on his own experiences in the bombing of Dresden in WWII, who died this week.

The “live web” (as Technorati has taken to addressing the blogosphere) is mourning in its way with tributes and memorial scrapblogs.

In recent years, Vonnegut used interviews and a final collection of essays, the 2005 A Man Without a Country, as opportunities to disparage the continuous American military deployment in the twenty-first century, wielding prose and illustrations from his felt-tip pen.

The first time I came across the penned * that was much more than an asterisk in his 1973 Breakfast of Champions, I knew this was an author deeply invested in challenging readers, applying visual rhetoric across time shifts and shady irony.

Like the surprise dusting on tree branches last weekend, I tapped powdered sugar onto the top of the cake last Sunday, thinking about the last time I had made it, thinking about the next. I placed the cake in different lighting, standing absurdly on chairs and couches and any available furniture.

Ben sat nonplussed at the computer, having learned this behavior is normal for me, and I realized when I later uploaded this set of images that my Flickr account now has 999 photos, the sort of number that would be significant in a Vonnegut fiction, if only as a detail a character noted without explanation.

And, in his way, I’ve graded the images below C+, B, and A-, in that order.

snow in April

snow in April

snow in April

Weird as the weather, unrefined to the end—Kurt Vonnegut, as you wanted us to say, you’re up in heaven now.

snow in April

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