How To Be Lovely {Mulberry Crush, part II}

l.i.c., ny

There are hazards to the constant pursuit of good food. Unfortunately, many of them are cosmetic. In my case, these cosmetic pitfalls show up under my nail beds, which are often dyed or dirty from the soil in my garden, the peeling of beets, or the picking of berries.

Today, I noticed this circumstance had traveled to my toes. As I looked down to find deep purple mulberries crushed into the space between my toes, I couldn’t help but think of Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey was lovely in every way. My sisters and I have a saying that we use amongst ourselves when someone needs a gentle reminder to be more lady-like. We simply say, “What would Audrey do?”

It’s possible it started when my sister Jenny caught me licking my fingers at a celebratory meal during sorority initiation back in college. At the time, she scolded me, slapped my fingers away from my lips and handed me a cloth napkin to blot the corners of my mouth. A few weeks later I received a package in the mail from Amy, our oldest sister. In it was the book How to Be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life.

In those years, I’ve kept this book full of Audreyisms nearby as a guiding force that helps me inch one step closer to the delicate flower I was born to be.

“My mother taught me to stand straight, sit erect, use discipline with wine and sweets and to smoke only six cigarettes a day,” Audrey said.

My mother taught me that cookies are best hot and fresh from the oven.

Still, we may be more alike than one might think. Audrey loved her garden, and all things green.

“When I didn’t have a dime, I held to the dream of one day having my own orchard with fruit trees and a place to grow vegetables,” she said.

See, we’re practically twins! I suppose Audrey wore gloves while working in her garden, but even so I found this similarity comforting. Perhaps I could be lovely after all.

There’s nothing lovely at all, however, about walking home from Costco with a super-size pack of Charmin in plain sight, and using it to climb up into the mulberry tree on the way home only to slip off into the grass that was wet with smashed mulberries. That, dear readers, is how I found myself with mulberries in my toes. At that moment, I had to ask myself, “What would Audrey do?”

I’d like to believe Audrey would gather her composure, climb back up on the 24-pack of Charmain and pick every remaining mulberry from that tree. She would take them home and would crush them in a blender with some simple syrup and fresh mint and fashion them into one very elegant mulberry popsicle for the one she loved. And, if she didn’t have popsicle molds {which most likely she didn’t}, she would freeze the popsicle directly in a champagne flute {made of plastic, since she would know that glass might crack in the freezer}. She would deliver this popsicle sweetly to her dearest love, and bat her doe-eyes at him as he praised her gentle ways.

Or, she might just save this popsicle for herself, and eat it when no one was watching, sucking out the deep purple juices until her mouth was stained. It’s hard to say.

“People seem to have this fixed image of me. In a way, I think it’s very sweet, but it’s also a little sad,” Audrey once said. “After all, I’m a human being. When I get angry, I sometimes swear.”

I bet she even got her hands a little dirty once in a while.


Jennywenny said...

I must remember this, the book sounds good too! I'm so bad at being neat, tidy and presenting myself well!

I just happened upon your blog recently and its just a treasure, your writing is beautiful. Thank you.

Jaime said...

Sarah, I SO love your writing! Audrey would be very proud!

Edible Living said...

Thank you both for your generous comments. I hope I continue to delight and inspire. Thank you for reading!

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.