LESSONS IN A DAY

By Mary Ellen Ryall

Before the Coronavirus, I used to use paper towels to clean out kitchen sink scraps. I remember my grandmother using newspapers to clean up sink filters. She used newspapers also when peeling vegetables and fruit.

That is being thrifty when there is a paper crisis in the grocery stores. Adapting in little ways makes my mind slow down to earlier methods used by families across America in the good old days.

Are you starting to observe little meaningful ways to weather the Pandemic?

This week a refund check came in from the hospital. I thought, oh goody, now I can order that puppy statue I wanted. Then I thought again. The refund is going to a savings account where it will earn a pittance of interest. Money may get scarce, and I better hang on to mine.

After making too large a portion of mashed potatoes last evening, I wanted to recook them the next day. Years ago, a Peruvian woman used to stand outside the building where I worked, in Carmen de la Legua. She sold crisp potato balls filled with bits of vegetables and hot pepper. She offered hot sauce to go with it, and I loved the dish. Of course, I made a version of the potatoes this morning. Slowing down allows me to wander in my mind to earlier times and memories of food and days of when I was young.

Saratoga Springs New York then and now

For the past 27 years, I have been estranged from my home town, home to my genealogy:  Great-Great Grandfather William Ryall, my Great Grandfather William Ryall, Grandfather James Ryall, My father William Alfred Ryall and mother Mary Rose Sullivan and our family of four children. My parents are gone now and like the prodigal son, I went full circle to the place of my birth and first 18 years of my life. I returned to memories, my heart, preservation, elegance, tradition and beauty. Saratoga Springs is a crown jewel in the league of fame and fortune.

Oran2-S.V_1 by Regis Brodie
Oran2-S.V_1 by Regis Brodie

My cousin Jim and wife Stephanie gave me two stunning pieces of pottery. One was made by my Aunt Pat. She has had a brilliant pottery and ceramic career over the years. She studied under Regis Brodie who permitted her to work on her craft in his art studio at Skidmore College. Matter of fact, he encouraged her to come.

The piece I have is a blue bowl that was crafted by using my Great Aunt Sarah and Mary’s doilies of intricate pineapple shapes. Aunt Pat stated that she made a paste like dough that she pressed the doily on.. Then she rolled the shape out to a flat sheet, which was somehow incorporated into the pottery. I feel like I have a intricate art piece that has my own family’s history in it. I  Sarah and Mary Renolds, my great aunts, were outstanding seamstresses, who at one time worked in the garment district of New York City. You can learn about Regis Brodie, the other famous potter at http://www.rcbrodie.com/

Sunday morning, Jimmy and I watched as hundreds of Canada geese flew over North Broadway in the biggest migration formation I have ever seen in my life. Later in the day, my sister, her husband and I saw thousands of Canada geese resting in the large reservoir. Jimmy lives on land that goes right to the edge of the pristine reservoir.  It is gorgeous to see beautiful water and forest, which was carpeted in oak leaves and a sporadic bright green ground-cover. To hear the sound of thunderous wings fluttering and geese honking, was to witness the power sounds of nature’s force in action. On reflection, it was a wonderful prayer I was honored to see and hear.