August 30, 2014

WILD BLUEBERRIES REDUX




I bring back the same souvenirs from Michigan every year: pieces of perfectly rounded driftwood, perfectly frosted beach glass, imperfectly perfect feathers. And in the last few years, cups and cups and cups of wild blueberries.

I wrote about it last August, and don't really think I can improve on that post (I did, however, improve on how much I brought home: 17 cups, to last year's 13). The zen flow of picking, the reward of highly-seasonal, highly-regional, highly-FREE food, and just the very miracle of this place – literally rising from the ashes.

I used the blueberries fresh for about a week in salads and parfaits, then froze just short of a gallon for use over the winter. I've got big plans for them: ice creams, tarts, sauces, popsicles. But regardless of what I make, they've already done their job – reminding of my six weeks on the lake, and allowing to relive a bit of that whenever I want, throughout the year.

August 24, 2014

POSTCARDS FROM CHICAGO



My parents and I drove to Chicago to visit my brother and his girlfriend, and celebrate their recent engagement. We spent three days walking the city, eating, drinking, looking up at architecture, and looking over Lake Michigan (Lake Superior's tenacious little sister). We visited my brother in the kitchen to which he's given the last few years of his life – an experience I need to write about soon, but am not quite prepared to yet.

I'm glad we took my FujiFilm Instax Mini to capture our tourist-ier moments. There's something about instant prints that just screams "all-American family vacation!," and I still find it's lack of exposure options utterly charming. We took over-exposed selfies on the architecture boat tour... and underexposed family portraits at dive bars. I guess we're redefining the all-American family vacation, too.

July 24, 2014

LAKE SUPERIOR



All of these photos were taken in a single six-hour window, leading up to and right after a pretty normal-sized summer storm.

Sometimes I forget exactly how large and powerful Lake Superior is. The bay we're on (Waiska, pronounced "whiskey," no lie) looks and feels huge; sometimes I forget that it's not the entirety of Lake Superior. But in reality, it compromises less than 0.5% of the lake's total size. I get glimpses of understanding what that means whenever a storm is rolling in from "the big lake." The water is pulled out and in to feed the cell's movement with seemingly thoughtless ease. It's kind of menacing if I'm in a dark mood, like looking at your pet and realizing that while you may think you have some sort of implicit agreement, they are actually just a wild animal, capable of really hurting you if they ever felt like it. (The list of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes is fascinating yet horrifying in it's breadth.) Sometimes it feels magical; our lake is doing ocean-things, cosmically-sized things, mimicking the tidal power of the moon. I want to put my toes in the waves and absorb some of it's crazy energy (which makes sense, considering I am Scorpio Ascendant).

Regardless of how I'm feeling (which is sounding pretty crazy, now that I've typed it out, but no less real), it's big. It's powerful. It's - Superior. We build houses next to it and brave insane, endless winters because of it's seemingly tidal draw. It feeds us; it sinks our ships. We swim in it; we drown in it.

...and I decide to spend a few weeks here each summer. Working, yes. But also admiring the lake, watching it warily, dipping my toes in it to absorb enough crazy energy to last me until next summer.

July 21, 2014

OUR LOVE LANTERN



It's Micah's last night in Michigan. He comes down to the beach at sunset, fresh drinks in hand for us; the lake is still, the sky is vibrant, everything is perfect.

"Hey - I found this lantern upstairs. We were going to set it off at the elopement party, remember? Let's do it now!"

"Yes! It's perfect. Let's make a wish, too. It's our love lantern."

We make a wish about him finding a fulfilling job, and us living happily ever after. The air is heavy with emotion. 

"Do you want to come out onto the dock and light it with me? We could set it off together."

"NO. I'm going to take pictures. Look at the sunset! You'll be all silhouetted – it'll look so rad. This is a blog post for sure."

"Okay..."

I snap photos with my phone, one after another, as the lantern slowly fills with warm air and starts floating... Micah lets go, it's lifting!, our wish is floating up towar - - - oh. Ohhhhh. 

Nope. Our wish is not flying. Our wish is drowning. OUR LOVE IS DROWNING. 

I haven't laughed so hard all year.

"...I think I got a few shots of it floating up... I could just not show anything after that. No one has to know!"

"...That was our love lantern..."

"Well, put your fist in the air. This is a whole different blog post now."

July 9, 2014

THE FIRST WEEK



From top to bottom: I can't help but take a picture of each sunset. My dad takes his daily swim in the (mid-40ºs) lake. My mom's peonies (this antique bush is my favorite). Setting up lights for our "marriage celebration" on the Fourth. Party food. Another bonfire, another sunset.

June 27, 2014

GARDEN UPDATE



The blackberries have peaked. You can see the last of them in the top photo, on the left. The zucchini are coming into their own – they're the most beautiful dark green (whenever I see them I think - I want to wear that as a nail polish). The herbs are rocking along, bushy, fragrant, beautiful. Our one blueberry bush has started ripening a handful of berries every few days - the perfect patio snack. The tomatoes! The tomatoes are going to be crazy - the first hefty Early Girl started to turned golden, both Juliet (Roma / grape) plants have 4-5 reddening clusters, the Black Prince has 4-5 golf-ball-sized fruits, a darker stranger green than the others. (And that's not including the five Rutgers/Roma plants Micah planted from seed in pots that are already taller than the other tomatoes, and just now flowering.)

I think the cantaloupes have given up; but the watermelon are flourishing. Micah's peppers are just starting to come into their own – they're loving the heat. His okra are tiny – but still trying to put out tiny okras. They're adorable but probably won't be delicious. His pickling cucumbers have started to climb the adorable foraged-branch-teepees he made them. I love those tightly-spiraled tendrils.

It's a strange thing. I look forward to planning our garden each winter, starting it, tending the seedlings – and then I leave for Michigan for a few weeks during it's most productive season. And the last few years, I've been spending more and more time there, and less time enjoying the fruits of my labor. But it's really affirmed something that I kind of already knew about myself – that I love taking care of things, the day-to-day upkeep – and not so much the showy end result. A Virgo thing, maybe. I'm really excited for our generous friends who have agreed to water our plants (and in turn, harvest whatever they want), while I'm in Michigan for SIX WEEKS, and Micah joins me for a week or two. I love giving the gift of that showy result to someone else, and then picking up the day-to-day tending when I return. That's kind of the real result of gardening, yes? The patience, the new-problems-to-solve-everyday, the elasticity of time as you watch things grow and ripen. That's why I love it. And that's why I keep doing it year after year.

June 16, 2014

TRIPLE BERRY ICE CREAM



Ah, that perfect week or two where Spring's last strawberries overlap with Summer's first blueberries at the farmer's market... so sweet and fleeting. I started with this recipe, reduced the sugar (the strawberries were gloriously teetering on overripe), and of course added a handful of our blackberries (we had starting freezing them), to make an ice cream that hopefully captured the best parts of all of them.

This ended up tasting like Red Flavor, in the best way. You know the myriad dubious candies from our collective childhoods? My favorite flavor was always red. You never really knew if it was strawberry, or cherry, or raspberry, or something else entirely - but it was always a safe bet. At least I knew I wouldn't get stuck with lime when I thought I was getting green apple, or something horrible like that. Anyway! Red flavor. Composite berry. Tri-berry. It's bright and sweet and the perfect late Spring dessert – I can see a scoop on top of rhubarb pie. And I'd be curious to see how it would compliment a scoop of peanut butter ice cream...