It seems as if it were just yesterday that we were welcoming our beloved Sherry back into the fold from her time in Georgia and now we find ourselves bracing for another farewell as she embarks on a sojourn closer to her heart: our friend will be joining her cherished compatriots Charlotte and Pete in Tanzania, Africa at the end of November. Last Saturday, we feted our friend with a vegetarian potluck at the bookstore in order to bid her safe travels.
I've written about Sherry before but allow me to once again wax on about why she bears such a unique presence to us. First, there is her appearance itself: Sherry is always, and I do mean always, wrapped in vibrant, breathtaking color and adorned with accessories and every time you see her, you find yourself studying her...its as if every swath of fabric tells a story and every piece of jewelry opens a new chapter. Much of what she wears is of her own creation and every day I worked with her, I couldn't wait to see what she was wearing on that day. I don't know how she does it, but she looks flawless every time. When she moves through the store, all eyes follow her; this swath of color and light moving through the staid, studious atmosphere. The phrase "poetry in motion" is often used, but when Ms. Whetstone moves through a room, there is no more apt phrase to describe her.
Now, Sherry's appearance would be enough to occupy your attention but then you meet the person wearing these bright colors, you then learn that the personality is even more vivid than her personal fashion. She is outspoken, intelligent, hilarious, a bit bawdy and has a heart as big as Africa itself. Sherry is an artist and weaves her creative spells with fabric, jewelry, homemade wine and even with culinary skill, as I can attest with her wonderful collard greens. Clearly, this woman's presence, in every way, is remarkable and unique to be sure, and it is also irreplaceable. So, with lumps in out throats, we celebrate her latest adventure, while dreading the goodbye once again.
Before the potluck, my coworker and friend Linda and I had gone to the Culinary Center's garage sale in OP and along with K and Shannon, had breakfast at Clock Tower Bakery where Linda picked up some killer cupcakes to take with us (the lemon-raspberry were awesome). K and I made our favorite broccoli dish: the Barefoot Contessa Broccoli with Soy and Garlic which Sherry paid her ultimate compliment...that I put my foot in it, which apparently is a Southern-originated phrase of praise. The bookstore gang met the vegetarian challenge with relish and there were many tasty highlights. Some were always-requested old favorites like Mama Polito's cheesy potatoes and others were new wows like Anna Asteroid's awesome African peanut soup. It was also delightful to have Jane join us; carrying a plate of her fabulous deviled eggs.
So, we nibbled and shared and laughed with our girl Sherry and finally, bid our dreaded farewells. We know she's off to Africa, the land of her dreams, where she has visited before and was destined to return to. We know she will do amazing things; working with Charlotte and Pete, who continue to do amazing things in Africa themselves. She has even teased the idea of writing a blog herself that will recount her African adventure and I will frequently and obnoxiously remind of her this. It remains bittersweet to say farewell to Sherry but we did and do and indeed wished her well. Still, we watch as that swath of color and light moves out the door and notice that the room, as it always does when she leaves, seems a bit grayer and dimmer.
Bon voyage, dear Sherry...we'll miss you.