July 3, 2014
There is so much I’ve been meaning to tell you, but for the past few minutes, I’ve done little more than stare at this photo.
It was taken last summer — at the end of last August, to be precise, with a coolness settling in during the evenings and the season drawing to a close. Alan snapped the photo, while I was mid-way through baking a galette. I can’t get over the hue of those nectarines against the rain-coloured afternoon. It looks as though I were about to fill a pie with stained glass. I remember how heavy with juice the fruit was; a few more days, and they would have bruised to the touch.
Like so many other things, this was a recipe I’d meant to share. But by the time we’d returned from the cottage, it took me so long to upload and edit the pictures that it was early fall, the nectarines were gone, and the recipe would have been rather useless. And besides, it was simply a twist on one I’d posted before — all you had to do was swap out the fruit. And I’d been having trouble writing about my time at the cottage, too. The company had been lovely and the cottage couldn’t have been cozier, but I’d been feeling restless, and the restlessness had needled away at me. I’d had ample time to contemplate what the hell I was doing with my life, and — as someone who wasn’t doing much — it hadn’t been a particularly optimistic self-assessment.
Things have improved quite a bit, since then. One of the reasons you haven’t heard from me in over a month is that I landed a summer job as a food stylist & photographer. In so many ways, the job has been a dream: I get to work from home, on my own time. I get to cook all kinds of dishes I haven’t been exposed to before, and I get to push my styling & shooting skills. But the project is going to launch in the fall, so the dishes I’m preparing are mostly fall- and winter-themed.
In short: it was a thrill to decorate gingerbread cookies a few days ago, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss summer cooking just a little.
In Ontario, especially, it feels like this season is painfully brief. I remember how I felt, after such a long winter, when the leaves finally erupted from the trees. Everything had gone from grey to green so suddenly, there was a certain rawness about it all. I remember feeling nervous, almost, as though it were an illusion and if I were to look too close, it would disappear.
And of course, in many ways, it has disappeared. The summer is in full swing again, and the green shade of the trees is something I take for granted.
Today I went out onto our little balcony and I sat down and just exhaled. I could hear the happy shrieking of children playing in the water park across the street, and the rattle of the streetcar, and the barking of a dog downstairs. I stared absently at the lavender I’d planted, each purple bud having burst into bloom. I thought about how I’d meant to harvest it before that stage, for drying. And then I thought, Forget it. It looks fat and happy, and at least it’s still alive, which is more than you can say for last year’s lavender.
Some clouds rolled in across the park and I suspected that it might rain later, but for now, at least, it was holding off.