Yesterday was my birthday.
It was a delightful day: my husband and I went to the NY Botanical Gardens to experience the special exhibit about the gardens of Alhambra, to look at the peonies (my favorite flower), to walk through the rose garden; then an early dinner (or was it a late lunch?) at the Tarry Lodge with good wine (very good wine—thank you, Joe Bastianich, for that wine list) and good food (very good food—thank you, Mario Batali, for that menu).
This was a departure from my usual mode of celebration, which involves inviting people over and me cooking (which I love) amid the hubbub of talk and laughter and the kids braving the not-yet-warm pool. One of the by-products of having a birthday that usually happens on the "unofficial start of summer" holiday weekend is the tradition of a cookout, after all. And I love that, usually.
But this year I needed some time to walk among the flowers and trees and shrubbery with my best friend, needed to reconnect in a new spot (we'd never visited together—which is unbelievable), needed to smell the perfume of a garden I do not tend. I needed, frankly, to be tended to myself. Because I made the space for that, it happened.
My daughter and both of my brothers called with birthday wishes before we set out for the day—as did my friend, Miguel, with whom I share this birthday. I was, frankly, stunned by the number of birthday wishes I got on Facebook; an embarrassment of riches, that.
The weather was glorious. The peonies are beginning the end of their glorious blossoming (a surprise, each time, that just a few degrees to the south makes that much difference—mine have just begun!) yet they were still showing off, as peonies do and which is why I love them so. The roses were, as they always are, an inspiration. And as we rode on the tram through the shade of the forest (a forest in the middle of the Bronx—it still blows my mind!) with a good breeze blowing, I thought, "Oh, yes, it's my birthday. Happy Birthday to me."
This is a Peace and Love rose.