Ross & Artichokes

Ross lived with Matt and I for one year before dying tragically in a rock climbing fall. He was a downright luminous person and we miss him every day. I especially miss him on warm sunny mornings as most of the spring and summer he lived with us the three of us sat on the front porch drinking up the sun, coffee or tea and each other’s company. I think most people find a couple with an adult roommate odd, or unusual – and perhaps that is so. But Ross really fit into our life and was a friend to both of us. We’d quietly and not so quietly hoped he’d live with us always.

While Ross lived with us Matt worked Sundays. Ross and I spent many Sundays together watching movies, visiting IKEA, running errands or cooking. Sunday was Ross’s night to fix dinner and he often bit off more than he could chew. Once he made breakfast for dinner that included bacon, homemade hash browns, eggs AND french toast. I think he used every pot and pan we owned that night. One of the things I loved most about him was that he was “all in” for almost anything – including dinner. He was an eager and appreciative eater, who I never saw  eat to satiety which made him a wonderful person to cook for. In addition, he was always the first to stand up and work on dishes, even when he (or I) HAD used every pot and pan in the house.

One Spring Sunday Ross came home from the grocery store with everything he needed to make dinner. I don’t remember what dinner was exactly, but I do remember that the first thing he did when he got home was pull out two artichokes and hold them up for me. He looked at me across the kitchen and said with his incredibly wide and genuine grin, “We’re going to eat these before Matt gets home, he doesn’t care about vegetables.” Which is true. Matt does not care about vegetables or really fiber in any form. Ross always made sure I had vegetables when he cooked and was a willing participant in the vegetables dishes I served.

As Ross steamed the Artichokes he talked about learning how to do so from his Mom. I told him my Dad used to fix artichokes sometimes for us as well.  When the artichokes were finished, Ross melted the butter and brought everything to the table where I sat with my book. As the spring sun streamed in across the table we worked away on the tender, rich flesh at the base of the leaves. Artichokes require you to eat slowly, they are a Zen dining experience as you pull out each leaf, revealing the choke with each bite. When we’d finished, Ross looked up, thrilled and said “Watch this!” He took the choke and with a knife and his hands ripped it open to reveal the heart. He dipped it in the butter and ate it, as I watched slack-jawed. I’d never seen anyone eat the heart out of a steamed artichoke, I’d always been under the impression that you had to be careful with them, which for me meant avoid them, because the choke could indeed choke you. When he finished Ross looked at me and went to work on the second choke saying, “it’s the best part!”

I miss Ross at every meal. Sometimes more, sometimes less – but always some. Losing Ross taught me that often times  life’s best parts end up wrapped in something difficult or scary. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth seeking out, revisiting, and spending time with. I can’t see or eat an artichoke without thinking of Ross, and gratefully artichokes are not the only food that make me think of him. Often remembering Ross or imagainging his delight in whatever is on the plate is indeed the best part of the meal.

Kaipaamme sinua Ross. Kippis!

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