Lately

Summer is slowing down, there will be a big yellow school bus competing for road space on our windy roads tomorrow morning and I am four weeks away from running another marathon. And by running I mean not running. And by marathon I mean labor. Same diff. I am slowing down which is remarkable because I’ve been feeling pretty slow already, but the inevitable final weeks of slothiness are upon me and in the evenings instead of picking up and blogging and things like that, I just want to be horizontal and quiet. Technically I want to be horizontal and quiet while a team of elves move around me unpacking the baby’s room and holding up tiny darling socks for me to oooo and ahhh over, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to will a team of elves into existence. I do have a Drew and he’s been doing the lion’s share of the housework while also installing new floors in our basement and painting and getting ready to go back to school himself, and I’m happy to oooo and ahhh over him in place of those elusive elves.

So, I know I’ve been a little silent, but here’s what we’ve been up to:

Dates with this guy:

This is how Asher eats a muffin. It’s more of an excavation than a meal, but he’s happy and muffin eating is not a battle I choose. I’m hyper aware of getting this time with him, and since I’m kind of shot on the fun stuff in the evenings, we’ve been sneaking in little morning dates together. I’ve been looking at Asher’s baby pictures, inevitably drawn back as we prepare to begin again and getting mighty nostalgic for how fleeting that time was with him. He suddenly seems HUGE, but then I watch him eat a muffin, totally consumed in his task, and my little boy is still there.

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The winding down of summer has looked like this:

And this:

And this:

And don’t look now, but that watermelon up there? That came from here:

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I turned 31 last week and ate appropriately. When one turns 31 while 35 weeks pregnant, it seems that eating is the best way to celebrate and I took the cake.

Ahem.

I’m not particularly funny about aging other than the passage of time has a way of surprising me. I use a night cream and make an eyebrows-raised note of the changing direction of various body parts, I’m human afterall, but all in all, I generally feel that aging is a privilege and certainly better than the alternative. My birthday makes me a little nostalgic for the passing of time, but it also makes me excited for cake and well-wishes and thoughts of what’s been and what will be, and so it came, it saw, it ate.

Drew will tell you that I’m prone to crying on my birthday, something I’d rather not confess, but it’s not really ever because I’m sad about getting older, it’s more like I feel a lot of things all at once on this day in August. Tell me I’m not alone in this. Last year Drew and I went on a backpacking trip and I turned 30 on the top of a mountain with my best friend, some Ramen, and a nip or two of whiskey. It was sublime and will hopefully be a tradition of sorts once there’s not another person sharing my body with me. Make no mistake, I have great friends who always have a way of making my birthday special and celebratory which I also love, I’m just discovering that with age comes a certain amount of appreciation for a little time to reflect mixed in with the confetti. A nice balance of champagne and water.

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Asher took this picture of me recently and it’s so spot on.

When I’m not trying to remember why I might have stashed the milk in the oven or where I parked my car, I’m thinking about labor and this child coming and labor and tiny socks and labor and how to swaddle and labor and breast feeding and labor and what to expect when you’re expecting and labor…it pretty much goes like that all day in the old brain. This is it, you know? This time, these last few weeks…the calm before the storm.

Raspberry Beret

This post has nothing to do with hats of the french variety or the ’80s, but it does have to do with raspberries, and I wanted all of you to join me in having this song stuck in your head to infinity because I’m generous like that. I love you, Prince.

One of the most exciting discoveries about our new house last summer was finding out that our entire property is surrounded to the max by wild raspberries. We’ve got raspberries for days, and mother nature’s dedicated tree removal last summer just made room for even more raspberries. Eventually we will be overrun, but right now we’re totally on a first date with the thorny bushes, and I can’t stop thinking about them.

So on Saturday we put my sweet visiting sister Julie and her equally darling boyfriend Joe to work and we went on a little raspberry picking expedition. Here they are before being sent to the brier patch:

(Clearly Asher didn’t enjoy their company at all.)

We braved the thorns and collected as many berries as we could before the heat made us to knock off and go for a swim. As it turns out, Asher probably doesn’t have a career in berry picking, somehow his mouth kept intercepting his hand, but his stained cheeks and empty bucket told the perfect summer story.

And after eating some and setting some aside for a cake, we spread the first of a couple of batches on a cookie sheet to freeze and then store in smaller batches for the dark days of winter when we’re longing to taste summer again.

That afternoon, I made an angel food cake to take to a potluck (following the recipe and tips in this post, which I found to be really helpful) and then topped it with some fresh whipped cream and some sugar-soaked raspberries. You can check out that post for the cake recipe if you’re so inclined, and I ‘made’ the raspberries by putting them in a bowl and tossing them with a healthy handful of sugar and a little vanilla before letting them sit in the fridge for about 2 hours (more sugar=more syrup, so if you want the syrup to run down the sides of the cake be heavy handed with the sugar). My method for whipped cream is equally strict, I used a pint of whipping cream and added a handful of sugar, some vanilla (a teaspoon-ish?) and a sprinkle of cinnamon to it before whipping it to soft peaks. I spread the whipped cream around the top ring of the cake, added the raspberries and some mint leaves, and called it good. I did all of that, but what I did not do was take a picture, so we’ll just have to imagine it together. It’s so pre-internet 1985 around here today!

If Asher had nicer parents, he would live exclusively on berries, particularly frozen ones, so this was a coup not only because the raspberries are the epitome of summer sunshine flavor happy times, but also because they were 100% free. Win-win!

Happy berry picking, team.

Carnival Tree

Spontaneous Car Conversation June 19:

Asher: Mama, is it Spring or Summer right now?

Me: Well, actually, this week, it will be Summer. There’s a day called the Summer Solstice that is the longest day of the year. That means that the moon won’t come up for a really long time that day, it will stay light until after bed time, and it’s the start of summer.

A: No! It won’t be summer until we decorate a Carnival Tree!

M: A what?

A: A Carnival Tree! We have to decorate a beautiful tree and then it can be summer.

M: Is this something that you guys are doing at school?

A: No! It is something that I know about. We have to decorate a Carnival Tree for summer or else summer can’t happen.

M: Ohhhhhkaaaay. Let’s choose a tree outside to decorate on the Solstice, will that work? We can decorate a part of it and maybe hang some treats for the birds?

A: NO! We have to decorate a WHOLE TREE or else IT WON”T BE BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH. <<getting upset>>

M: Of course we have to decorate the whole tree! We will find the perfect tree to decorate outside. The perfect [previously unheard of, totally fabricated by your amazing little brain, unknown] Carnival Tree. And we will decorate it for summer. Obviously.

And so, I give you our very first annual Carnival Tree:

Aren’t you relieved that it can be summer now?

 

**I highly recommend the $1 section at Michael’s for all of you Carnival Tree needs. The $1 section, and a ball of brightly colored yarn from a basket of random stuff that you’ve miraculously held on to since college for just this moment. Clearly.**

across the lawn

Somewhere I came across Karla Kuskin’s brief poem,

A turtle walks across the lawn
and when he gets there
summer’s gone.

Isn’t that the most concise and endearing ode to the experience of summer? We move at a slow and steady pace, focused on sucking the marrow out of the warm days and then we look up and the leaves are shaking free from their branches. I have this poem jotted down a couple of different places to remind me about different lawns that I’m working on crossing, a way of remembering to make haste slowly.

This morning Summer’s turtle made her way into one of the garden beds outside. I was doing my morning commute around the yard with my coffee, obsessively checking to see if anything (particularly the clematis that’s supposed to be growing into a lush screen on our fence, but is…not. Yet.) had inched up any since the same lap that I took last night at dusk, and tucked in with some snapdragons was a box turtle stretching its neck up with its mouth open. By the time Asher came out, it had mostly retreated back to the safety of its shell, but we were all thrilled to see the passive visitor so close to home.

My mom surprised me with this bed this week. I had previously been ignoring it because we thought that we might build steps down from the deck this summer (ha! ha ha…ha) and it had become a weedy eyesore. My dear, wonderful, selfless, garden-loving mother spent her day cleaning out the bed and filling it with annuals (no pressure in case we do get around to those steps next year) so that I came home to a little spot soon to be brimming with color and already filled with her love. I love being a grown up with my mom–she knows that the best way to pamper me is not with a spa day, but with flowers. That is love, team. It’s fitting too that a turtle would show up in the first days of this bed’s makeover, as in some circles the turtle is the symbol of the earth, the life force that carries the weight of the world, and a well respected mother.

Which circles, you ask? Only the cool ones, obviously.

Thanks Momina.

Thanks summer turtle. Safe crossing.