• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 06
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When my great aunt came to stay with us, meals were never the same. She had won my great uncle with her culinary talents. Her pie crust was legendary. The way to a man's heart they said.

When my great-uncle died in a car accident, she had to sell their little house. No kids, and she couldn't afford it. So, she retired and came to stay with us, and brought her orange cat with her. He was all she had to love, now, she said. His name was Ginger.

Ginger soon had the run of our house, and we would find him in the warmest sunniest spot by the window, watching the sparrows in the yard. He was a big cat, but he would let us pick him up like a toy. He followed us around like a dog.

But he was most certainly a cat, possessed of that remarkable ability to do astonishing leaps with grace. Nothing to it, his green eyes seemed say when he would leap to the top of the bookcase. My great aunt would call from the kitchen, "Ginger, what are you doing?" He would act like nothing at all.

True, my great aunt spoiled him, buying raw chicken and beef livers to cut up just for him. "Fine with me," my brother said, "I hate the liver."

"Not the way I make it," my great aunt said, and she would work her seasoning magic. She used nutmeg and turmeric, thyme and coriander, curry and ginger, Even the names were delights on the tongue. Her meals transported us to these faraway places--Tuscany, Thailand, Madras, Barcelona, Paris.

She had difficulty with names, sometimes. "You kids!" but we always knew she meant us, even when she called one of us Ginger. "You're all Ginger to me," she'd say. Ginger was her word for love.

The kitchen was her artist studio, and we were her assistants. When her eyesight was failing, she needed help with the ingredients. By now, she had memorized the recipes, or forgotten. She knew the spices by their bottles. That one, she would point and we would hand her whatever it was. It was always ginger.