June 25, 2008 · Updated 2:14 PM
"When the phone rang at 7 o'clock the morning of Sept. 11, I figured it would be my sister, who lives in the upper Manhattan area of New York. With a three hour time difference between her coast and mine, we often end up calling each other either too early or too late. I was barely awake when I picked up the phone, but when I heard her voice I was shocked into instant alert. She was crying, panicked and sounded terrified. Turn on your TV, she yelled into the phone, for God's sake turn on your TV. We're being attacked, they've crashed into the World Trade Center and it's in flames! I told her I'd call right back, then ran to turn on the TV. And so it began, this new terror.For four days after the attack on Sept. 11, I didn't shed a tear, couldn't seem to feel anything but numb disbelief no matter how many times I watched the horror as it unfolded. Then, last Friday, I was sitting at my computer trying to work on this column when the moment President Bush had called for arrived, one moment at 12:29 of silent remembrance and/or prayer for all those lost. I'd not looked at my watch, hadn't realized the time. Suddenly the ferry Kittitas, nose in at the Clinton dock a short distance from our house, let forth a blast from its horn that made me jump in my chair. It went on, and on, and on - far longer than any ferry horn blast I'd heard before. I went to the window to see what the problem was, then looked at my watch and realized it must be the ferry captain's way of observing that moment. And the tears started. Now I can't seem to turn them off.I was too young to fully understand the terror of Pearl Harbor, although the changes it made in my life were immediate. Blackouts, air raid wardens, practice air raids, submarine sightings (real and imagined), disappearing Japanese school friends, all were suddenly new, vaguely unsettling additions to my daily life. And a recurring nightmare began during that period, a terrifying dream of hiding in my grandmother's cellar and hearing crashing footsteps and loud shouting overhead, realizing that the enemy, evil soldiers, were looking for us, to kill us. Always, mercifully, I awoke, terrified, as the door to the cellar was battered in. I didn't understand then why people so far away would want to attack and even kill us; I'm not sure I understand even now. It was several years after the end of World War II before I finally stopped having that particular nightmare.Now, again suddenly and without warning, the terror is back, more than 60 years later, even closer to home and with a new, underlying sense of evil so powerful it is incomprehensible. One of the several definitions of the word terror in my American Heritage Dictionary is violence toward private citizens, public property, and political enemies promoted by a political group to achieve or maintain supremacy. Even as I type those words into my computer, the impact of their actual meaning is seared into the memory banks of my brain forever, in the images of two planes hurtling into oblivion the lives of so many private citizens, people who had no reason to believe as they began another day in their lives that morning, that it would be their last, sacrificed by a political group to achieve or maintain supremacy.That such evil not only exists in this world but thrives in strong, crafty, people who are dedicated to the destruction of our way of life is only just beginning to be a reality for most of us. And I find myself asking again, six decades later, how can this be? Why...why....why? And how can we fight the terror? I'm sorry, to those of you who read this column and tell me you enjoy the recipes, this is one time when putting recipes at the end of the column just doesn't seem to fit. I know that so much has already been written and said that one more column about the unbelievable events is superfluous, but it is also impossible just to ignore the entire subject and write a column as if nothing had happened, complete with recipes. Our lives may never be quite the same for quite some time, but I will do my best to be back to normal and, yes, with recipes, by next week. "