Summer Nights In Southold

After pastichio supper
and war cake dessert
Uncle Dippy sits with us
in the front yard

Porch lights off,
darkness shines

Strike of a match
flame bounces,
his pipe burns orange
like a North Fork sunset

He summered here
in his youth
Eager to pass on
love for a space,

a time

In the town of Southold
night is nothing but

night

Wrapped in cherry smoke,
cricket songs,
we gaze skyward, in quietude,
searching for brilliant wishes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My mind drifts to childhood summer vacations spent with my aunt and uncle in Southold, the North Fork of Long Island. Uncle Dippy, a shortened version of his surname he was given in the Navy during WWII, spent his summers in the small town during his childhood.

He had a second family – Aunt Mame served as his chosen mother. Dippy held her near and dear to his heart ~ because she held him the way a nurtuting, loving woman holds any child from a tumultuous home.

He shared this magical place, this healing place with his wife. Introduced her to small town life with big hearted people. They bought a summer bungalow, just down from the Sound side of town. Across the highway, behind Main Street there was Founder’s Bay. The salty sea and greedy gulls followed where ever you laid your hat.

Our family vacationed there every August. The neighbors, like family, always welcomed us with open arms. Open hearts.

My aunt and uncle have since crossed over, their bungalow safe in the hands of a young family from town.

August, always brings me back there. So I’m here writing this excerpt but my mind’s eye is there, my Spirit is in Southold -enjoying the sea, the extended family and Uncle Dippy’s classic Greek cooking.

I’m including the recipe for War Cake cited in the poem. Apparently during WWII, Aunt Mame sent him and his shipmates War Cake. The ingredients withstood the long travel time. (I believe Aunt Mame’s heart, soul and love kept the cake and my uncle in tact.)

But I miraculously found the recipe. Bear in mind it’s ancient and lacks modern day details. But for any of you cooks and bakers, you’ll work out the culinary kinks. Me, I’m renouned for take-out menu files instead of recipe files 🙂

Enjoy the cake, and your memories of carefree childhood summers.

Dippy’s War Cake
Boil:
2 1/2 cups water
1 box raisins
1 box brown sugar
1 tsp each:
all spice
clove powder
nutmeg
cinnamon
ginger
1/8 lb. butter

When raisins rise, put mixture into a large bowl to cool.

Add:
pinch of salt
3 tsps baking powder
2 cups flour – more if needed so batter is not too thick or too liquid
Bake in a large rectangular pan
45 minutes – 1 hour at 350 degrees.