summer’s end

I had been working here and there on a short blog post for the past few months of summer. And now that August is near its end, that post feels a bit outdated.

Summer’s end has always been a difficult reality for me to swallow. When I was young summer meant we would visit my grandmother’s house by the river more often. It meant I could stay up late into the night running around the endless black of our yard in the country, shoeless and free. It meant marshmallows and swimming pools, cartoons and wearing shorts and the same cat shirt every day (bliss!).

And even in adulthood summer satisfies my same, mysterious needs of being human: long days, warm, steady evenings, camp fires, grilling our entire dinner, meals from the garden (or, the neighbor’s garden. We did not manage to keep a garden this year), reading for pleasure, fresh flowers on the table, weekday trips and nesting into my happy place: being home with my kids. Summer has always served as a kind of sanctuary for me. And to see it go has always felt like a terrible injustice.

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. . .

I want to write a bit about being a mother of two. Because when I first began writing the uposted post, I felt very differently about it than I do now. Having a head-bobbling baby in my arms while wrapping a large bath towel around a wet toddler was newer then. More strained. And though Jude is only two months old and it is still very new, having two kids feels much more like a forever home.

I’ll confess. I was hesitant to welcome Jude into our lives. I liked the way things were. I loved that Porter was the one and only baby. But now that Jude is very much so here, and Porter is a big brother, I cannot imagine life differently. Jude is so completely a part of things now. And Porter, with his big open heart and resilience has taken on his role with stride. He sings “Hey Jude” to him every day (the “nah-nah” part his his favorite). He fills his swing with “buddies” and helps give Jude baths. He will occasionally, in a polite tone-of-voice mention that he would like for Jude to go to Grandma’s, or that I should put Jude down and play ball. But he is always very polite about it. And never spiteful. And he accepts my responses with a lot of grace for a 3-year-old person.

And as Jude gets older, he watches Porter with the kind of fierce curiosity that I know will morph into a fierce love and admiration. A kind Porter will, for better or worse, live into.

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. . .

Which brings me to tonight, my first alone moment since 6 am. And though I am tired, and there are a lot of other things I know I should be doing, (sleeping at the top of that list) I needed to return to the unposed post and make my updates. Because I want to remember how grateful I feel. And how precious this gentle, fleeting stage of maternity leave is. I want to remember sitting on our living room couch mid-afternoon cutting the finger nails of a feverish 3-year-old while he watches Clifford and next, the squirmy, plump starfish hands of a very healthy 2 month old.

I want to remember those precious baby naps in the afternoon when I can watch Porter draw or paint or when we can work side-by-side on our own things. And I want to remember the luxury of Monday morning salad-making. When Porter is up but busy playing in the living room. And Jude is taking his morning nap. And I can work alone in the kitchen on a salad intedned to last the week.

Our neighbors generosity played a large role in allowing this to happen (garden cucumbers! Green beans! Lettuce and radishes and tomatoes and squash galore!). Thanks to the bounty of their gardens and their willingness to share, I was able to make salads all summer, last week’s being one of my favorites. It is a bit old-school with its mayonnaise and dried herbs. But a goody, indeed. I especially loved how is feels light and fresh but substantial enough to eat alone for lunch.

You will notice in the photo my veggies do not look very “diced”, but rather, chopped or loosely hacked at. This is because I am, as we already establish, a mother of two. And sometimes dicing vegetables is a very unrealistic goal. And heck, the salad tastes all the better with chunks of veggies if you ask me. So if you’re like me with few and far between  “alone moments”in your life, go ahead. Leave it all undiced. I promise, no one will complain.

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Perfect Protein Chickpea Salad

From: PCC

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup spelt berries, brown rice or grain of choice
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans garbanzo beans
  • 1 English cucumber – peeled, seeded and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 ribs celery, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/3 bunch parsley, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to season
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Add 3 cups of water to a medium pot and add the spelt berries. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover, cooking until tender but still chewy, about 45 minutes. Drain and cool.

In a salad, bowl mix together cooked spelt berries, garbanzo beans, diced cucumbers, green pepper, celery, carrots, red onions, green onions and chopped parsley.

Mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, salt, basil and garlic; pour over salad and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Salad will stay fresh for up to 4 days, covered, in the refrigerator.