I am reminded by posts on Facebook about capturing the “last gasps of summer” that it is Labor Day in the US. Here on the Mediterranean, we expect to have several more weeks of warm weather. In fact, today, I’m just putting a hem in a pair of white pants that I plan to wear quite a bit this fall. But mentally, it is the turn of the calendar and I, too, am feeling nostalgic for last summer.
Since the boys have been in university, our summers have had a consistent pace, but this summer, some things changed. We aren’t pulling them off to be with us in our overseas life as much, anymore. They have their own involvements and responsibilities, now, and they can’t just up and leave for several weeks like they used to.
This was the summer of girlfriends. Having significant others hanging at the house with us was a completely new development, and we really liked it. It was fascinating to watch our sons attend to women they have chosen to have in their lives, and I was proud to see their consideration and more grown-up ease with themselves.
This was the summer of full-time jobs. Most parents, I’m sure, would agree that it is enormously satisfying to send your able-bodied young person off for a big ol’ day of work. This was, at the same time, the summer of baby animals. Gabe has a real gentleman’s farm in operation on the island. He took in a menagerie of Craig’s List babies last spring: lambs, chickens, turkeys, and ducks and then there is the biggest handful of them all, his beautiful preschooler dog, Geist (he just turned 1 so he’s technically not a baby anymore). Allan and I became quite enchanted by the whole free-ranging brood and were perfectly happy to send Gabe off for a 12-hour work day in exchange for tending the animals. I could have and now think should have taken so many more pictures of them as we watched them grow. It was fascinating how they made choices and communicated to each other, everyday, about where they wanted to go on the property and what they wanted to do. They were so silly sometimes, but my heart was happy seeing them have completely natural, stimulating lives.
This was the summer of nieces. I think the generation of my siblings and me has shifted slightly and our children are stepping up to be our friends and to provide us with authentic support. Through this season of the passing of our mom, my nieces, in particular, came forward to not just cook and help arrange things, which they did capably and creatively, but they made us laugh and amazed us at all of their adult involvements. I know that my mom would have been so happy to know how her passing strengthened and even changed our relationships in many wonderful ways.
Finally, this was the summer of home-town affirmations. Allan and I have had our wonderings, over the years, if our plan to eventually repatriate back to Whatcom County will be the right choice. We have other overseas friends who are building their retirement nests in farmhouses in France, condos in big cities, someplace warm. We love Lummi Island, but we haven’t always been sure that we could fit back into the culture we left, now, 15 years ago. This summer, though, we had encounter after encounter, often by chance, with people we have known in the past, but didn’t know so much about presently. We were astounded, first of all, by what positive lives so many old friends are pursuing. Many have lost unneeded pounds and as a result, feel fantastic. Many have become incredibly active, riding bicycles, taking strenuous hikes. Many have let go of negativity and are living in grateful places. Several have completely stopped drinking. I found myself becoming genuinely excited thinking of living in community, in the future, with these old friends and our Lummi Island neighbors. Of course, lots of conversations turned toward our bounteous summer provisions in the Northwest and how we were preparing and/or preserving them. I am really looking forward to sharing cooking when we can. One of the cookbooks I read cover to cover this summer was Monday Morning Cooking Club, and I can picture that sort of get-together with old and new friends to learn more about and from each other and to enjoy the cooking skills so many of us have been honing these long years.
One friend and I already got the conversation going when she and her husband came out to spend an evening of crab-eating, sunset watching, and visiting with us. Even though she had worked that day, she had, because she’s just like this, baked off a heavenly loaf of artisanal bread in the morning to bring out. She swore that nothing could be easier than making up this no-knead bread, developed by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City, and once I tried it, I became a devotee, too. It is also a wonderful dough to form into foccacia or pizzas. I am not going to retype the recipe. Go to this link because you will also find some short videos that will illustrate a couple of the finer points involved in the process. Peggy, I hope that this is the beginning of a long and delicious conversation.