It happens, even to the best of us. You pull a tarot card and it makes no sense. I use the experience like an archeologist would. Excavate the fossil and unearth a new meaning. This works especially well in a card a day practice.
My family packed up for a small trip. We’d been invited by our gourmand friends, Leilany and Neil, to their weekend home. I pulled a tarot card that would give me the flavor of our getaway . . .
The Knight of Cups appeared. Hmmmm. A handsome young man tempting me with his dreamy eyes? Doubtful.
Didn’t have the slightest of what this card meant. So, I did as I often do. Kept the card in mind and tried to make connections to it as the weekend progressed. I’d revisit my Knight again to see what he meant, thereby assigning new meaning to him. Card connections are like synchronicities. Once you start looking, you’ll find them everywhere.
Our car shot out of the Midtown tunnel landing on the Long Island Expressway. The city canyons dissolved behind us as if Manhattan was merely a dream sleepily pushed to the back the mind. On through the outer limits of Queens where the bizarre clash of industrial city meets suburb. I was reminded transitions are uncomfortable both in life and landscape. Eventually bedroom communities drifted by, each exit offering up suburban paradise with names like Port Washington, Glen Cove, Stony Brook.
At the end of Long Island you are presented with a choice. Turn right and head to the Hamptons, crawling with mansions, Range Rovers, and tony New Yorkers. Like Beverly Hills, the Hamptons caricatures itself almost to the point of ridiculousness.
However, turn left and you’ll find yourself rewarded with calming Long Island wine country. Grape vines align with searing precision, as you pass vineyard after vineyard. Strawberries sent the air; lavender farms offer purple blush as far as the eye can see. The town of Greenport, New England like with smart white clapboard homes, fishing boats and ferries, sits at the furthest end.
Transported, I felt the exhilarating rush of being a tourist and very much out of my element. I started to gain the sense of exactly what my Knight of Cups meant.
The Knights of Tarot always imply movement and a bit of risk, exactly the qualities of traveling and tourism. The Knight of Cups holds a cup and I knew I’d be holding many glasses of wine through the weekend.
Traveling, you want to be sure to get an authentic local experience and “do as the locals do.” Food is the best way to do this with music pulling in a close second. When in Rome, you devour pasta, in London it’s roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, visit New Orleans, you’ll indulge on jambalaya and ettoufee. Local food on your plate, you become a local yourself.
This waterside town meant tons of seafood. Thing is, I’m not much of a fish eater. Like a Knight, I didn’t let this stop me. At the pier, crunchy fried clams were heaven with icy beer in a soft plastic cup. We followed up with a wine flight at a local vineyard while the kids danced to a John Mayer cover band.
Back on Leilany and Neil’s deck we were offered oysters on the half shell. Oysters are at once sexy and horrific. They reproduce without sex but are regarded as the strongest aphrodisiac. Oysters live, preserved by the salt water within their shell ‘til shucked, practically alive when you slurp them. Briny and primal, I swallowed each oyster with a dash of spicy cocktail sauce. They were slippery, strange and wonderful on my tongue.
Our hosts followed up with a bbq to make even Bobby Flay blush. Smoked ribs in a spicy rub, zesty grilled chicken and double fried plantains. A cheerful heirloom tomato and green bean salad shimmered under its dressing, looking like modern art so colorful the plate. Sweet bursts of tomato countered the spicy ribs and melded with a gorgeous cabernet.
As if this sensory overload were not enough, after dinner, our husbands strummed their guitars. Leilany and I hopped into the hot tub, whispering girl talk amidst the bubbles, strains of our husband’s music floating in the night air. It was beautiful.
Our Sunday commute back to the city left us all crimson fingered as we devoured red little strawberries purchased at a local farmers market. Seasonal strawberries, sweeter than candy, are so unique in flavor that monster hybrid berries in the supermarket should go running for cover. I peeked back at my daughter, who sat grinning in her car seat like little Claudia the vampire, red juices dripping from her mouth.
The lesson of the Knight of Cups and a weekend getaway? Take risks as all knights imply risk. Even if all you risk is your taste buds. And indulge, especially when it comes to your taste buds.
The Knight’s pause? A chance for us to relax and become guests rather than hosts.
The element of water and its association to cups? Represented by the Long Island Sound, the wonderful seaside air and feeling of rawness when you are close the ocean.
What of the emotional implication of Cups? I returned to the city relaxed and rejuvenated.
The next time a Knight appears for you, he may herald the need to take yourself on a little trip. I do hope you travel this summer and discover new things, new foods, and new environments. You could travel less than two hours away and find yourself in a completely foreign environment. There might even be an icy platter of oysters waiting for you . . .
Oyster photo courtesy of my darling husband, Bill Brady.