Time out

I drafted a post on the plane home on Tuesday, but haven't had time to finish it, dad nab it. It's been busy.

The day after our return we had dinner with some old friends from out of town, and while going out would have been less work, eating in meant we could have arugula pesto and fresh garden salad, and with the raspberries just coming on strong, the image of a raspberry tart began to float in my mind… We stayed in.

Today one of my cousins and his family, en route to Yellowstone, arrived. This is the most marvelous family. Seven-year-old Julia helped pick peas, currants, and cherries, shelled peas and beans for the potato salad (with home-grown potatoes, of course), told me all about the books she's reading, and left the hammock as soon as her brother gave her a half-hour turn and walked away. (What's the point of winning the hammock, if her brother isn't standing by waiting for his turn?)

Maureen gathered the garden lettuce, washed dishes (most of them from dinner with our last visitors), and generally kept everyone and everything else on an even keel, while thirteen-year old Ben fetched and carried in the kitchen, conversing with a vocabulary that would stump many college students, except when he was playing the piano, swinging on the hammock, or teasing his younger sister. (He is an older brother, after all.)  Meantime, my cousin Tim tried out both guitars, played the piano, set the table, and somehow remained actively present to everyone.

Between a late lunch, followed by necessary coffee and the baking of a cherry tart, we managed a quick trip to a local stream, where everyone tried the water (some intentionally, some by accident) and I picked enough currants for ice-cream sauce.

Back home, Julia stirred the sauce, which I periodically tasted. After each taste test, I'd tell Ben that yes, we needed more sugar, and he'd measure it out. In the end, we had the amount he'd originally suggested: a shocking six cups to just over two cups of berries. My gosh, but currants are tart.

I must say, though, that fresh cherry tart with vanilla ice-cream with currant sauce is hard to beat. So is serving guests largely, if not entirely, from the garden. Yes, it's been busy; but in the best of all possible ways.

Eight years ago, Ben and I spent an afternoon together reading stories and then napping, and I've never forgotten it. He might have, I thought, but when I saw him again this summer for the first time since then, he grinned and opened his arms wide. Way to my heart.

Since he and I already had a special bond (we were also the only people at the reunion with braces), it was nice to have a bit of time alone with Julia when the others went out to do grocery shopping.

“I'm glad I stayed here,” Julia confided. “Because if I'd gone to the store, I'd just be asking, ‘When can we leave?'”

I admitted that grocery shopping was not exactly my idea of a rollicking good time either.

“And this way,” Julia said, “I can keep you company. And I get to be with you.”

(See that woman in the kitchen? See how she glows? A seven year-old just paid her a compliment.)

Another great moment occurred by the stream, which I'd crossed to reach the best berry bushes. As I brought my loot ashore, Ben commented thusly:

“I must say, Kate, I do enjoy how you collect produce from your garden, and then how you go out into the woods to collect more fruits.”

It's nice to be appreciated.


–revised, 7/16/11

4 Responses to Time out

  1. I agree. What a wonderful family!
    Julia seems to be a real treasure. Will she compliment me too, do you think, if you could send her over?
    I love it too when there’s enough produce from the garden to feed guests.

  2. Everything sounds so delicious! Sounds like you had a great time. Julia sounds like a charm, how sweet and helpful of her!

  3. Hi Sunita! It really is a great family. Julia’s wonderful–I was quite flattered when she stayed with me while everyone else went shopping! And Ben is absolutely my favorite 13-year old of the moment. I’ll speak to their parents about visiting India.
    It was good, Karina. But now I’m really feeling as if I didn’t do Ben justice. He is the sweetest, brightest, most engaging kid imaginable. Oh–and he knows what ever-bearing strawberries are. At thirteen!
    I’ve actually revised the post a bit, to include more about Ben.

  4. What a happy family you have. :)The food you prepared sounds so delectable! :)

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