A poetic salad

Candice presiding over her kitchen

“Don’t worry Sheila, you’ll get to eat,” Candice tells me. We’re drinking tea in her kitchen, talking about relationships, writing, organic produce, Portugal, friendship, the world scene.

I’ve been back home in Tucson for a week. As always, my visit with Candice on Mount Desert Island — my other home — was loaded with words. As always, it was intense.

Candice is a poet. Words coincide with everything she does, even arranging a perfect salad.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Like all my  dear friends on Mount Desert Island, I met Candice at least 20 years ago. She came into Oz Books, and with typical Candice urgency, she asked, “Would you be interested in having a writing group in the bookstore?”

“Yes,” I answered immediately. Candice, a native Mainer, had just moved to the island.  It was winter. I remember because she was wearing a very large fur hat from China, where she taught for a few years in a previous life. “Oh how perfect!,” she exclaimed.

On July 26, the day of this summer’s visit, Candice has driven from Camden where she gave a poetry reading the night before. She’s ironing pillowcases when I get to her Somesville home surrounded by woods.

“Ironing calms me down,” she says. “I just walked through the door 45 minutes ago.” The phone rings, she zips around the house. She stops to show me the most gorgeous lettuce, which she bought in Belfast on her way home to the island.

Candice washes each lettuce leaf, then carefully creates layers separated by paper towels in a glass pan that she puts in the fridge to chill. We go for a walk at the nature preserve on Indian Pt. Road, looking for seals when we reach the water (instead the mosquitoes find us).

Back at her house, we sip white wine. She starts the process of preparing the salad. Two and a half hours later, we sit down with more wine, candles lit, looking out at her garden and the woods beyond.

Candice and I are both Geminis. She calls me her  Gemini sister. We talk on the phone regularly when I’m back in Tucson. “Real-time talking” is the only way Candice communicates, even with her students at the College of the Atlantic. “Don’t even think about emailing me,” she tells them.

When it’s time to go, she thanks me for carving out a visit. “I know how busy you are when you’re here, Sheila. You’re surfing all over the island.”

Then in her own surprising way, she starts singing “Everybody’s surfing now. C’mon, let’s go surfing now…Surfing Safari with me.” She makes me laugh. Makes me think.

“I think I’ll turn on Bruce Springsteen now, maybe dance,” says Candice, as I leave for another year. Even though I never know where poetry will take me, the best part of being with old friends is that I’ll always belong.





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