On ravioli day, it was always bella

Grandma spread the white linen cloths over the tables on the sun porch, smoothing the wrinkles so that they lay flat. She placed the rolling pin, a canister of flour, and a jelly jar within reach. Then she donned her apron and tucked her wispy gray hair into her black hairnet.

The dough was ready, the ricotta had drained. The smell of freshly chopped mint and grated nutmeg hung in the air. Grandma bustled in and out of the kitchen, gathering a few utensils, a fork for crimping, and bowl of water.

It was ravioli day.

I watched as Grandma smoothed the dough into a circle and used pronounced thrusts of the rolling pin to create a large, thin rectangle ready to receive the ricotta mixture.

Her deft movements left rows of milky mounds that she skillfully covered by folding the dough. With brisk strokes of the knife, she cut the mounds apart. Then it was my turn. My job was to seal and crimp.

Grandma watched me as I inverted the jelly jar over each mound and twisted it a few half-turns. Then I pressed the tines of the fork on the edges all the way around until the individual ravioli was made fast. We worked together like that for hours, sealed in quiet. The light began to fade, the porch became cool, the afternoon's work lay around us on the tables now covered with ravioli.

I loved being on the sun porch with Grandma. I worked at her elbow, I pressed against her side, I leaned into her thigh. I don't recall if we talked much during those long afternoons.

But I do remember that she hugged and kissed me and called me "bella."

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