Good Ol' Days.
Summer soothes me like ginger lemon tea. There is the sunshine, catching the frets as they ricochet off of me and tossing them over my shoulder like the old news that they are. There are flowers, calming me like a salve. I'm ready to live these last Summer weeks with a new kind of peace and a new kind of joy. Or maybe they're the old kinds. Maybe they're the Good Ol' Days, coming back around and slowing down just enough for me to hop back on.
It may periodically trip me up, this odd existence. I have joyfully surrendered with the assumption that change would steam-roll me right into our next phase of life. As it turns out, Life isn't interested in steam-rolling me. It probably knows it's too hot and sticky for a bunch of steam right now, anyway.
I have a lot of friends that went camping this summer. I know, right! Here's the thing, I'm really not a camp girl. I enjoy what I know of it, but my knowledge is quite limited. I was not Born to Camp. It may have something to do with my long-standing aversion to outhouses or it may be related to my woeful hair that really must be washed daily.
It's not that I'm
I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to summer. This year I took it pretty easy, planning little, dreaming big. But even empty calendars (especially empty calendars?) have hopes and dreams penciled in. And although I'm all for free-range ambitions, I've decided I'm going to crack down this year, manage expectations like I mean business. The childish ones Certain People bring to summer's table. The unrealistic, seriously?, plain ol' silly sort. Expectations that leave me shaking my head and smirking out loud and muttering 'surely you know better' under my breath.
See, one of my Big Ideas about summer is that I'll Get Out, early and often. To the park or the lake, or garden, to hike and explore and Be In Nature. I spin Grand Plans in my head all the time, about catching crayfish and studying limestone and identifying leaves and bark and seeds. Valderi-Valdera optional. Sort of. I am fiercely fond of my own childhood summers, which I recall as almost entirely en plein air. I left the house in the morning and didn't return until dusk, filthy and sun-blind and brimming with adventure. Then those wonky teenage summers that I spent covered in baby oil, color-coding my bathing suits, and teasing my bangs. I was busy writing sonnets and day-dreaming about boys who would be but a memory just one short week later.
I want that now. I try hard to Make It Happen. Sometimes, too hard.
I suppose it all boils down to agendas. I often have one. So does Life. And often as not, they look nothing alike. I had my sights set (like always) on the ocean. It brings me pleasure and peace and great heaps of warm fuzzies, like a postcard from home. But Life had eyes for staying home this year.
One of these days, opportunity will arrive.
All I know is that when "it" lollygags 'round the bend, I hope it finds me with a smile on my face. And maybe a clean shirt and blow-dried hair, but I'm not holding my breath.
Summer Corn Chowder
8 ears fresh sweet yellow corn, husked and silks removed and kernels cut from cob
3 Tbsp butter
5 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
5 cups water
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half and half
1 Tbsp honey
2 - 3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened and just starting to brown around edges, about 8 - 10 minutes. Add in the flour and garlic and cook 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour in 5 cups water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then stir in corn kernels and potatoes. Add in thyme and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer 2 1/2 cups of the chowder to a blender and blend until smooth. Stir the mixture back into the pot then stir in half and half and honey. Sprinkle each serving with chives and optional cheddar.
Recipe source: adapted from Cooks Illustrated