My New York City grandchildren spent their spring vacation from school in East Hampton with us, a long week in which I got to know them better. We saw each other from morning till night, and there were continual surprises. I discovered how much they had grown up, and it felt like seeing them anew.
It’s easy for grandmothers to dote. We are famously prone to finding common behavior thoroughly remarkable when it comes to our own grandchildren. I myself find it fascinating how much Ray knows about computers and how much his sister, Sky, loves to draw, but you probably don’t.
But will you indulge me while I tell you how Ray has begun to get into cooking? Surely it isn’t the average 10-year-old who creates complete recipes from scratch. The culinary high point was a thoroughly original dish, prepared with a tutorial from his father on slicing and dicing. Who’d-a thought of combining eggplants with a yam, sautéing them with bacon, onion, and garlic, adding a pinch of ginger, and letting them simmer slowly in chicken stock for an hour and a half? If this doesn’t sound very good to you, just try it. It was delicious. Ray topped it with a little grated cheese and, although we ate it straight, it would have been good on pasta or rice.
Sky, who is 8, took to arranging forsythia blossoms into small centerpieces, and she did a lot of art. She left a painting of a dashing girl on the refrigerator, but her most singular work was a two-sided letter to the bunny found on the dining room table after the kids had gone to bed on the night before Easter.
On one side it read: “Dear easter bunny, I love easter! I hope that you are nice! Love and happy easter, Sky Rattray! P.S. This is what I hope you look like! open this way. . . .” A drawing of a bunny with long eyelashes and perky ears was inside. The bunny was standing up, wearing a two-piece summer outfit decorated with an Easter egg, and holding a basket with a heart on it. A caption reads, “My famaly’s easter bunny.”
Today, the New York kids are back in school in Manhattan. They left me with treasures: a printout of the recipe and a letter to the Easter bunny for that scrapbook I keep meaning to start.