Happy Veterans Day. Or Armistice Day. Or Remembrance Day. Or Poppy Day.
I went to a British grade school in Mexico City. We wore a uniform. I was 7 years old. In November of my first year, kids started showing up with red paper poppies pinned to the lapel of their blazers. I had never heard of Poppy Day but I loved the color added to the otherwise mundane clothing. I bought one and wore it even though I didn’t understand why. I looked forward to it every year. That splash of red.
It was the 11th month, 11th day, 11th hour when hostilities ended. It was the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars. Poppies bloomed all across the fields where the battles were fought and lives were lost. A sea of red.
My first trip to Paris was over Armistice Day weekend. I was 16, and wandering around on my own. The city was empty. I was the only person at Napoleon’s tomb. I remember it was snowing that day.
In Washington, DC, Veteran’s day always meant Rolling Thunder. Motorcycles from all over the country converged on the Vietnam Memorial. They used to parade down to the Mall from Virginia and Maryland. You could hear them all morning. I was there for the 25th anniversary when they expected 500,000 motorcycles. It was impressive.
Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.
by Siegfried Sassoon, Selected Poems (1968)
I voted on Tuesday. I was relieved the red wave turned into a pink drizzle.
It also got dark this week. Short Dark Days until the end of the year.
We made this yummy cake earlier this week. It is gluten free in case anybody cares.
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2.25 cups finely ground almonds (I use almond flour)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Separate eggs into 2 large bowls.
Beat yolks, gradually incorporating 3/4 cup sugar
Fold in the almond flour
Whisk the egg whites until foamy.
Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar
Continue to beat until stiff
Stir 1/3 egg whites in to almond mixture, then carefully fold in remaining egg whites in 2 batches.
Pour batter into buttered 9-inch cake pan and bake about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Dust with powdered sugar.