Staffer Diane de Fremery wrote up an event that took place later that day:
In spite of the cold, on Friday, February 4th we had the most superb Mabel moment. Approximately 20 people ventured out to come to a SOMOS reading by George Wallace, the 2011 Walt Whitman Birthplace writer-in-resident. We put the chairs around the fireplace in living room. There was no heat in the classroom, plus we had [only a handful of guests] due to the crisis situation with no heat or hot water in the big house.It was intimate and reminiscent of days gone by when Mabel had her salons. There was also live music provided by Juilliard graduate Abbie Conant between the readings. It was a special evening.
The next morning had been very cold. There was frost on the bell. We hadn’t expected it to get that cold that early in the year. After all, we slept and sat in tents. After the two periods beginning at 5 a.m., I was signed up to be the breakfast server. Servers never wore socks or gloves. I have to bow, barefoot, with my big pot of steaming rice in front of each student, then kneel on the ground and serve them—they were all sitting on the floor on cushions—then lug up the pot and go to the next person. I was cold. Roshi was the last person to be served. I couldn’t wait to get it over with, to run out of the tent and put on my socks and gloves. As I knelt in front of Roshi, about to scoop a ladle of rice into his bowl, he sharply, clearly said to me, “Eat the cold.” I took a deep breath, slowed down, and tried to open to the weather. This man wasn’t kidding around. Don’t run away, even from the cold—digest it, he was saying. And he meant this for all my life, not just the moment I was there.*
Under these circumstances, it seemed appropriate to close with Mabel’s description of her kitchen:
That’s the nicest room in the house from eight to ten in the morning. All the woodwork is painted blue and the walls are whitewashed. There is a long table in the center with a blue oilcloth on it, and a big blue stove burning cedar wood.A long row of windows facing east, lets in plenty of sunshine across the geraniums, and there is a breakfast table under the windows on the west side of the room. There is always a lovely smell of oranges and coffee, bacon and eggs and toast out there at that hour, and the men love to eat breakfast there, close to the Source, with the cheerful hum and bustle of cooking going on, the eggs sizzling on the plate, the butter melting on the crisp toast.**