Made some apple bread Saturday and it was not bad. Things have been quiet since the kids left, and Mr. S headed out Saturday morning for Grand Marais, where he’s doing a two day workshop on the healing power of Calm. I have to say I’m with him on that one. I’ve had nothing BUT calm for the past few days and I have to say it’s done my spirit (and my body) well. I tend to get worked up on occasion about bills or chores that need doing or people who are unkind, and it feels good to kind of float above it all and bake some bread and read awhile and take a nap while rain falls on a foggy August evening.
Made some French toast Saturday, and it was not bad. The morning was spent assessing what the kids do and don’t need for school and making a short list and some shopping and packing; the afternoon found us reading or napping or both. It was a stormy day, cloudy and chilly and for the first time I felt autumn in the air. I like “autumn” better than “fall.” Sounds more like what that time of year IS, though “fall” provides a nice counter to “spring.” Anyway, I felt it on my skin and in my bones, and that led to a batch of French toast, with bacon on the side. Perfect on a cool, late-summer eve with clouds burgeoning out of the west and a fire in the fireplace.
Made some Hawaiian cheesy bread Saturday, and it was not bad. The kids were around and the air was just right and we ate sitting out on the porch. The kids took the steps and Mr. S and I the swing, and we enjoyed some kabobs and grilled pineapple and Hawaiian bread. Wasn’t long before the light turned the soft gold of an autumn evening, and the married daughter drove off with her husband, windows down and music loud. A cd of the two of them playing ukuleles and singing, “You Are My Sunshine.” Our son’s girlfriend appeared in her parents’ truck and off they went, holding hands, down the street for ice cream at the General Store. (This week’s feature is “Zanzibar Chocolate.” Hard serve, the real thing.) And our younger daughter? She disappeared without a sound. As Mr. S brought in the dishes, I set to washing and I could see the light from her room illuminate the oak tree out back, and hear her soft murmurs through the open window. She was, to be sure, talking with her boyfriend, who is already at college where he has been working for the summer.
Made some blueberry boy bait Saturday night and it was not bad. It’s one of Mr. S’s favorites, something I made for him back when we were dating. It’s what I had to work with – that, and my love for good conversation and my affinity for long walks and working hard and going out dancing now and then, and quiet hours reading together – and who’s to say something homemade for someone you care for doesn’t have a power all its own?
It’s true. Some of the great gifts I’ve received were things homemade, small labors of love when the giver wasn’t sure of what to do or say or share. There was an apple galette when I was feelin’ lonely, a batch of chili and some cornbread when I had pneumonia, a pot of chicken and dumplings when I was down and out, a spread of roasted meat and vegetables when I was so deep in transition I thought I might come apart. And all of those random plates of bars and cookies, the loaves of fresh bread “just because,” the carefully wrapped truffles packed in small tins, the brown lunch bags holding “just a little something.”
Made a tres-leches cake Saturday and it was not bad. Not bad at all. Been a bit of a challenge comin’ up with things to do in this long stretch of heat and storms, and baking a cake might seem a bit silly, but it was a new recipe from a friend, and I had a free afternoon, so why the heck not. Sometimes it’s nice to stop everything and focus on one thing awhile. Kind of a centering thing, standing there measuring and mixing, pouring and leveling and scraping. It’s good time for thinking, there in the kitchen on a hot summer afternoon. Summer is more than half over. School starts in three weeks. So much has changed. So much is changing. The summers of my childhood are long gone, and the word “grandma” has come up more than once in past months. The Prairie Home Show has a new host this fall. The election is coming up. Kids are chasing imaginary creatures in parks, and word is there’s not much value in flossing after all. So much to remember. So much to long for. So much to talk about. Things to let go of and things to embrace. Of course we need to find our center now and then. Nothin’ wrong with that, and there are a thousand ways to ground yourself. For me it’s baking, and walking in the fields and the forest, and trampolines and swings. And conversation, good conversation with people I love.