The gin my sister’s friend had left behind was like a salve, a blessing we needed given the trouble we faced. Each evening I was there, we pulled it out, wondered just what was in it, and marveled that the departed Petra had not drunk more of it before she left. Then we concocted refreshing drinks with it, pouring it into great tumblers whose outsides soon trickled with the cool distillation of humidity, as their insides bubbled with ice, fizz, and lime. The gin did not taste of juniper but was vaguely herbal and fruity, a heavenly elixir to quaff in the waning hours of those hot strange days.
It was February. I had come to Florida unexpectedly. My sister had developed a infection after surgery and had had to have an emergency operation. Skirting death but left with a deep and dangerous wound, she was slowly recovering. What with all the complications and the ongoing uncertainty of recuperation, she and her man-friend were understandably frazzled and needed relief.
The visit had a lot more going for it than outstanding gin. I had an opportunity to see Venice and its surroundings, which I had heard much of since Arielle moved there roughly two years ago. Her house and yard are charming and, to northern eyes, exotic. The property backs on a lake, and the house is built around a lanai, which the stars rise above at night, and the breezes blow through. During the day, my sister and I visited and caught snatches of the winter Olympics and “Leave It to Beaver.” I drove her around to her doctors. One afternoon I watered and worked in the garden. Despite her fragile condition, my sister was resolute, philosophical, and strong. Despite the crisis precipitating the occasion, sisterhood and the magic of nature turned it into a most agreeable time. Arielle’s resourceful and unflappable partner cooked delicious one-of-a-kind dinners for us each night. I even got to see the sun set at Venice Beach.
Beloved Arielle, be well!