the shiny peeking in
As of late, my efforts to be outside have been heroic, if not entirely successful. Last Saturday morning I looked out my window, gazed upon the sunny gloriousness and I was seduced, totally convinced that I must be out there soaking up enough rays to warrant requisite not-too-much-later-in-life botox treatments. so, under this obligatory coercion, I finally propelled my butt out of the house to be one with Nature...you see, I've been facing a drama head on for a couple of years and decided that I might like to dapple in denial instead. just for the day. My plan? my plan was to pretend that I did not have a three page to-do list, feign sunny optimism and ignore the frantic feelings that were beginning to churn in my gut and run rampant right beneath my surface. So, I did what any self-respecting girl facing a mini breakdown would do if she were in my shoes...got in my car and started driving. one hour south, a Barn full of Christmas and a local farm stand along the way. on the way back, a walk in the woods. makes sense to moi, no? I mean isn't that what everybody does when life gets kinda funky.
The weather had me pretending that it was not as cool as it was, that I didn't need a bulky sweater, scarf and mittens to walk around the farm. I was feeling all mushy and nostalgic as I sat and watched Fall come swooping in. hundreds of brilliantly colored leaves fluttered around me in the cool air like little bits of papery magic. one landed on my shoulder and I marveled at the brilliant colors, the amazing patterns. there were horses in a field. chickens. a donkey named Hobart (he was not home) and a cat named Lafayette, unfortunately, she ran away before we were properly introduced. I watched her work the crowd, flouncing from person to person, she was shameless in her begging and quest for attention.
And then, as always, there was the matter of finding my groove. I tend to obsess over stuff, you know me, I like things in neat packages, it is comforting to me to know what to expect, oh, I love surprises and adventures as much as the next guy, I just don't like having the rug pulled out from under me. and sudden, drastic life changes rivals all of the above. As does things out of my control. Even if it's just a part of the whole process. Even if I've known this the better part of forever. even if I try to roll with the punches. Still and all. Things happen.
One of my biggest snafus? Not living in the moment enough. this is particularly clear when the moments are gone. captured only in photos and my selective memory. yet, even with these I wish I could remember certain things...what we ate, what we talked about, how we sounded, what was the mood like. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing, shopping, lunch, driving, home. I wish I had cherished the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Certain things I'm still getting used to, having spent many years doing the whole long distance thing, it is pretty cool to have most of my gene pool so close by. within spitting distance. an arms reach. right in my hood. There was always such an all or nothing quality to being so far-flung. But now, now life is pretty rich on the spontaneous! So I'm living more in the moment, and when I add up my tangible accomplishments as of late, not so much. in fact just about zero. but I'm digging it, I'm busy attending to important matters. My closet's a disaster. My garden is a scandal! Don't even think about opening my fridge. Because after all, Life won't wait. we were recently given an extra hour. seriously? I savored it. pissed it away. I'm hoping to double down on my free time, my fun days, suddenly I'm aware that they come with an expiration date. I'm reveling in quiet afternoons talking to goats, willing the peaceful times to keep coming. I might nearly have let this season pass without enjoying it for what it is, had I not spied the shiny peeking in. watched it strutting about my kitchen all sassy like. I'm so glad I remembered, just in the nick of time. It's deceptively simple, sunshine, good company, a whole day of happy, sparkles, and twinkly. Add that I smiled, a lot, made it a day I won't soon forget. for a long time. maybe, never.
And, I collected more memories than I can count. Rare is the outing that doesn't end with a fistful of photos. A reasonable person would take a few photos and be done with it. I am not that person. Perhaps because there were years when I had none. I'm making up for lost time. It bears repeating. often. live in the moment, and take tons of photos.
In the moment. Humph. Do you or don't you? Me, I'm of two minds on the matter. I definitely try to. live in the moment. Sometimes, it seems I have to try rather more than I ought to. And then I have some serious explaining to do to myself. catching up if you will. is it merely a case of enjoying life or is it a question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? This is not to say it comes easily, but when I make up my mind, I jump in feet first. I'm on a roll. Finally find my groove and sort of move into it. this keeps me busy. out of trouble. out of my head where things tend to wander a bit at times. where I should not always go. keeping me up well past my bedtime. my head barely above water. Then of course, there is the small matter of borrowing trouble. getting ahead of myself. even though I know, I really do know, that these are roads better left untraveled.
and something more.
I've been having those feelings again. Those feelings where I can’t pay attention to any one thing for long. you know how it goes, I’m there, but I’m not. The thoughts in my head are louder than any real voices I hear around me. When I feel this way, I need to be alone. the truth is, time alone, finding a place to escape has always been important to me. As a child I would hide in closets, the attic, behind the couch, climb a tree. anywhere to be by myself. hide away. regroup. refresh my spirit. that's how it was on Saturday. windows flung open to capture every last bit of magic. an early picnic lunch by a lake, a mini road trip, an afternoon making Apple Crostata and singing along with Bon Jovi, now there's a guy who really knows how to show a girl a good time.
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet.
For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.
Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.