Happy New Year Everyone! I’m back from yet another trip to “the homeland” with some fresh ideas for 2015. Much food and wine was enjoyed this season, including the Muscadine Grape from my brother’s farm, Cane Creek, served in many different ways, and my husband Gordon’s “Flash Bread” – seen to the right. We were cutting and serving it from my sister-in-law’s kitchen in the foothills of Asheville, NC. Look for the Muscadine Grape on new 2015 Lula’s Menus. There’ll be Roasted Chicken Risotto Simmered in a Muscadine Reduction, among other things!
I don’t want to talk about food at the beginning of this amazing new year, though. I want to talk about my amazing husband Gordon, and his role in my life, and yours. You see, he’s a First Responder. I’ve been quiet and taken in all that has happened in the past few months nationwide, and I’ve listened, and I’ve felt the repercussions of our sad, but hopeful I dare to say, state of affairs. What prompted me to focus on this is the fact that I was asked not to wear my favorite “hoodie” on our trip down south. Gordon gave it to me – it says “Property of Covington PD” on the back of it. You see, police officers are now very cautious of quite a few things. They think twice about bringing their cruiser home and parking it in the driveway. They are wary of the clothing they wear. They are afraid for their families, because of attempted kidnappings and harassment. I can no longer wear my favorite piece of casual clothing because I might get attacked in a parking lot. There have been more than 16 police deaths since the Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson, but you’re probably not aware of this because reporting harm to a first responder or his or her family isn’t “sexy”. Only reporting misconduct and corruption within the ranks is considered bankable. Do we have bad cops? Sure. They are human like the rest of us – including the bad politicians, bad salesmen, bad financiers, and bad musicians (not to mention bad cooks). But for the most part we have a society depending on the good instincts, intentions, talent, and training of our police forces. While we as a society slowly erode their benefits, salaries, pensions, etc., we expect them to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility as cutbacks at the federal, state and local level are removing personnel virtually essential to the safety of your first responders, and my husband.
I want you to know a little bit about my husband the man. He’s a well educated, very intelligent, thoughtful, serious, funny, and well read person. He runs marathons for charity. He enjoys ridiculously bad action and fantasy movies and can watch them over and over again. He is an excellent gift wrapper. He’s a fabulous bread baker. He hates yard work. He has a remarkable palate and uses it to bring me home wine I love. He is a first responder whose mission is to protect and serve, but like all of his friends and compatriots across the country, his FIRST job is to come home alive.
Coming home alive is not an easy proposition when you’re working against drug cartels, herion and crystal meth addicts (too many addictions to name them all), stopping armed robberies, and getting shot at, all of which Gordon has endured, not to mention broken bones while on the job. These do not make up the bulk of his days though. The very unglamorous duties of finding lost dogs and returning them home, negotiating domestic disputes, and making sure children are safe both within their homes and without, are his daily bread. Being intimate with his community, including getting to know both the good and the bad, and attending various township meetings is his charge. These things make the Thin Blue Line a little stronger for you.
People tend to forget that police officers don’t make the laws; they are bound to enforce them. They do not have the luxury of the spirit of the law; they must adhere to the letter of the law. My husband’s split second decisions determine whether I get to see him at the end of each day, or whether I will never see him again. So the next time you pass a police officer on the street, look him in the eye and smile, or say “hello”. Let him know that you think what he’s doing matters, and that he or she is appreciated and not taken for granted. He may not smile back – he takes his job very seriously, but trust me, it makes a difference. By the way…I know for a fact that police officers are allowed to eat during their break (would you like a 10, 12, or sometimes 16 hour shift without a break and some food?) and they like donuts no more or less than the rest of us. 🙂