Retrospective

September 11, 2008 at 12:19 am 1 comment

Many of you who have ventured this blog lo these many years (both of them) doubtlessly believe my life revolves solely around food.  That is mostly true.  I do have other interests and profiencencies like my love of Auburn football and super heroes.  In addition to eating and cooking food I also write about it, but I write about other things as well.  It is with this thought in mind that I share with you a short essay I wrote about five years ago.  Read, think, remember.
Astrologically autumn begins in mid-September.  Its beginning is signaled by the vernal equinox- one of two instances a year that the sun actually aligns itself with our equator.  We know this because modern scientists have peered through giant telescopes noting each infinitesimal detail of our planet’s orbit through the solar system.  Native American shamans, pre-Druid Celts, and the Egyptians have known this for two millennia because they could count.

The heat of summer was beginning to dissipate.  The September sun gleaming in the clear sky personified Ronald Reagan’s metaphor of America as “the shining city on the hill.”  Wall Street was buzzing with economic activity.  Time Square flickered with vendors, shopkeepers, and tourists.  Horns honked, children laughed, and cabdrivers shouted profanities.

To the un-indoctrinated this is chaos.  To those who have ever lived in the Big Apple it is simply Tuesday.  Poets, lyricists, and authors have long seen the complex beauty in New York much as scientists see the beauty in mitoses.  It has inspired phrases such as in a New York minute or New York state of mind.

A roar echoed through the man-made canyons like a dragon from above.  Cacophony is no stranger to the average New Yorker, but this new sound was not right. A shadow of foreboding crossed the sidewalks at high speed.  Pedestrians looked up in horror.  It was headed right for the  . . .

On September 11, 2001 terrorists, enemies of peace, attacked the United States of America by hijacking two commercial airliners and crashing them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  That same day two other airliners were hijacked, one was flown into the Pentagon in Washington DC.  The fourth crashed to the ground killing all.

At 8:15 our world changed forever.  By 9:45 in a field in Western Pennsylvania the first indication of that change was evidenced in the selfless sacrifice of the patriots aboard American Airlines Flight 93.  The images and words that followed that week are now eternally etched into each of us who remember that tragic event and its aftermath.  From the frantic plea of a family member carrying a tear soaked photograph, to the heartbreaking sight of a flag draped stretcher emerging from the rubble of ground zero, to the stern warning, “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear us all,” something in each of us changed.  Heroes died.  Grown men wept.  Grandmothers became bloodthirsty.

The fall classic, the World Series, became a seven-night wake.  Each sporting event centered more on the singing of the national anthem than on the final outcome.  Before we knew it Thanksgiving was here and yes, we did give our thanks, but more so we faced the holiday with sorrow.  Without notice Christmas arrived and finally we began to heal.  Months passed before we completely regained our collective equilibrium. 

It is only now, years later that we look back and ask ourselves, “What happened to autumn?”  We try to remember how our seasonal procedures worked and what we did that year but we cannot remember because there was no “autumn 2001”.  That fall never happened.

It is like the old philosophical question – if a tree falls in the woods and there is no one around to hear it does it make a sound?  Now years removed from that tragic day there is no clear memory of autumn.  No remembrance of the leaves changing their colors or the cool wisp of a north wind at night and we have to ask ourselves – if the seasons change and the world is in mourning did that season ever happen?  History will record that there were in fact four seasons in 2001: winter, spring, summer, and grief.

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1 Comment

  • 1. Charissa C.  |  September 11, 2008 at 2:02 am

    Wow… interesting question there at the end Stuart! Great piece of work. I enjoyed reading this, and it was good to see a different side of you 🙂


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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