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A Six of Cups Summer Day and a Dead Body


Tomato, lilacs and glass jar on the sill.

I place rosy tomatoes on my window sill because it’s what my grandmother Mimi always did. Tomatoes, like bananas, ripen better in the dark, but nothing is lovelier than a pop of red in summer haze. And Mimi liked things to look beautiful.


Illustration and poem by Pamela Colman Smith for The Broadsheet.

The Six of Cups is the nostalgia card. My grandmother’s home is evoked each time I spy tomatoes in sunlight, smell smokey bacon cooking in the dampness of the kitchen or hear an airplane humming overhead on a hot summer day. Her home, my childhood summer residence, was a grand, old adventurous house, tucked away in woodsy green Connecticut. There were maid’s quarters, fireplaces in unexpended rooms, walk in closets full of evening gowns, fancy bathroom fixtures before those were the norm and even a mysterious death.

Her husband Don’s first wife, Bun, “fell” down the spiral stairs during an evening of heavy drinking. We all suspected she was pushed or her demise was the result of a boozy fight yet we rarely articulated our secret belief. I often paused at the bottom of the staircase when passing through. I imagined Bun’s limp body, bare leg up the stair, scarlet lipstick smeared across her dead face while Don stood above her man-screaming in sodden horror.

After imagining her death gaze, I’d whisper to her jealous specter. Are you watching us? Are you angry we are alive while you are stuck dead? Was it an accident, Bun, or were you pushed? Because, if he pushed you, I should know. I am here, very much alive in this house. I’d like to stay that way.

Bun’s ghost never replied. Only the staircase’s Greek statue knew the truth of that deadly evening. No matter how I stared at him down with my determined brown eyes, the white, naked twink wouldn’t give it up.


Pamela Colman Smith’s Six of Cups

The Six of Cups card is described as a walk down memory lane. It resides in the heart center of the Tree of Life at the number six, Beauty (Tiferet). Pamela Colman Smith’s image evokes sweetness and cozy thoughts. Yet for many of us, early memories are a murky stew of much darker things. Your child self will embrace darkness openly because we haven’t yet learned to be afraid of the line between right and wrong. We may have been in the hands of adults who didn’t know any better. Or our adults knew better and just didn’t care. As a child, you see things for what they are without judgment. This brings us closer to unedited truth. And truth is often as dark as a married couple fighting for their lives, up to their eyeballs and drowning in Smirnoff.


Six of Cups from the Dark Grimoire Tarot by Lo Scarabeo

The darkness doesn’t make me sad, it gives adult life texture and richness (although it wreaked havoc on my teens and twenties). Childhood darkness may threaten to swallow you whole but if you can make it through to the other side, darkness and depth becomes context as rich as the Mars Black shadows on an oil painting which define the entire work.

When the Six of Cups appears it is worth using the card not only as a springboard for earlier memories but as an opportunity to move back and examine the world through your child eyes. The glorious perception we all once had that many of us now struggle to regain.

It’s fun to let your memory hopscotch. It will bring you to surprising places if you allow it. What little habits and things do you do because someone you love taught you to? What deeper experiences do these habits, like tomatoes on a window sill, connected you to? Its worth taking a look …

Cast your cards wisely.

Speaking of tomatoes … check out my video for Lovers Grilled Cheese and Creamy Tomato Soup – the perfect pizza soup for a fussy eater 🙂

Lover’s Cream of Tomato and Grilled Cheese Soup Recipe

4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

3 cups chopped onions

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

4 cups chicken stock

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes salt and pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup of croutons or 4 toasted baguette slices

2 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

Melt butter and oil in a heavy bottomed 4-quart saucepan over medium low heat.

Add onions, cooking for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

Add chicken stock, tomatoes, a teaspoon of salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.

Arrange oven proof soup crocks on a baking sheet.

Ladle soup into each crock.

Divide croutons/toasts among crocks and sprinkle cheese on top to seal soup.

Place in oven for approx. 20 minutes until cheese is melted in a golden brown crust.

Remove carefully and serve.


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