Spring in Seattle? You are so fickle.
This morning, when we woke up, the green lawn was covered in grey-white frost. This made the walk to grab the paper an unpleasant experience in pajamas. The Chef found photos of snow-covered roads from the previous night, online, taken about twelve miles from our home. And this afternoon, when I was speaking with my parents on the phone, they told me that cold rain and heavy snow had just passed over their home. They live 45 minutes away from us, and we had much to say to each other. Just before we hung up, I looked outside the window and saw thick sheets of white snow slanting down onto the green outside.
Ten minutes later, bright sunshine poked through the clouds and made every blade of grass glisten.
I don’t understand. Didn’t we already pass daylight savings time? Why, when it is light until almost 8 pm now, do I still have to shiver while I type this with cold fingers? Why is the dazzling display of pink azaleas on the bush outside our door wilting brown on the edges from freezing several days in a row?
No wonder our landlord, who is a master gardener, suggested that we wait to plant our vegetable garden until Memorial Day weekend.
I know, I know. I shouldn’t complain. I’ve seen the photographs on friends’ blogs — there are vast parts of this country still covered in snow, with no sign of thaw. The Chef laughs at me when I wish for warmth. “Yeah, spring in Breckenridge starts in June.” Even in New York, all the years I lived there, I don’t remember seeing the trees sprout green in Central Park until the middle of May.
Still, the first week of March here was lovely and warm, blue-skied and expansive. Could I have that back please?
Late this morning, I was kind of moaning about this in the car while I drove the Chef to the restaurant. And then I shut up. Because, while we were stopped at a red light, I saw a homeless man huddled into himself in a doorway. The only things keeping him warm were his mangy beard and the cigarette dangling between skinny fingers.
I’m doing just fine.
Mostly, though, I know what this is. I’m growing antsy. Tomorrow, I start my sixth month of pregnancy. Six months pregnant! It sounds significant, doesn’t it? It feels that way, to be sure. My belly has grown outward, like a plump tomato at the height of the season. Every morning, the Chef and I look down at my belly, and he says, “Good lord, your belly has grown, again!” People have started smiling at me as I walk down the street. At first, I thought that they recognized me from all the publicity we’ve been receiving around here for the book. (That’s a funny state of being, when I expect people to say, “Hey, are you the Gluten-Free Girl?” Believe it or not, it happens often.) But when I see their beneficent and genial smiles, I realize, “Oh, it’s just because I’m pregnant.”
I love being pregnant. I adore it. My changing body amazes me. My food cravings crack me up. My slower pace feels right to me now. And the Chef? He’s so deeply involved, already in love with his child. Every night, and most mornings, he leans down into my belly and says, “Hi Little Bean!” in his excited, child-like voice. He has entire conversations with the little one, and I stand above him, my hand on his hair, loving him more.
I know that I will always love this time, and it will disappear far too fast. I should stop wishing for it to go faster.
It’s just this — we can’t wait to meet Little Bean.
LB started moving about five weeks ago. These little fluttery bubbles along the bottom of my belly, which make me grin every time they appear. But in the last couple of days, they have started to feel like real kicks. In several places along my belly, I felt this little thrumming, a quick pulse, a movement clearly from within my body, not on the skin. This evening, as I lay down to watch a little tv (a break from writing, much enjoyed), I felt these little pushes in my belly, and shouted out, “Hi Little Bean!” And then I watched as the left side of my belly wobbled a little, moving outward, and settled back to its place.
Oh my god.
These are, bar none, the most beautiful days of my life. I want to swim in them, and stay here, enjoying.
But if only it were a little warmer, and I could take walks without three layers, and see plants sprouting up from the ground and not worry that they will be frozen soon. I want to see the spring in full bloom. New life. All that hope.
I suppose this must be what it’s like for Little Bean, too. It’s dark in there (but probably pretty toasty warm). Little Bean doesn’t know what this world looks like, just the one inside my body. We all go into our cocoons in winter. I can’t wait for the sun to shine warmth onto my skin. That means we’ll be that much closer to meeting our child.
(And of course, I reserve the right to laugh at myself in July, when I’ll be nine months pregnant, and wishing for cooler weather again.)
This is the world, Little Bean. Sometimes it’s dark and cold. Usually, there’s sunlight, at least sometimes.
We can’t wait to show it to you.
ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST WITH CITRUS GLAZE AND PARSLEY PESTO
Even in food, we’re in between seasons. The spring vegetables have not arrived in the farmers’ markets (soon, soon) and we’re all starting to tire of the winter vegetables. (Parsnips, I promise I will be excited by you again next January.) Really, the idea of four seasons is absurd. It’s more like twelve. And right now, we are in winter-spring.
For the middle of winter-spring, this chicken dish might just hit the spot. With a lavish glaze of reduced citrus juice, and a splash of green parsley pesto to presage the warm days that surely will arrive, eventually, this dinner helps stave off the rains outside. At least your belly will be warm after you eat it.
(By the way, the mystery ingredient in the photo above is a pile of balsamic pickled red onions. They are tangy and slightly sweet, a decadent surprise for the end of winter. I’d give you the recipe, but we’re saving it for a special occasion. Sorry!)
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted
½ lemon, juiced
½ cup high-quality olive oil
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt and cracked black pepper
5 oranges, juiced and strained
1 lime, juiced and strained
1 lemon, juiced and strained
2 chicken breasts (the one photographed above is a breast with half a wing attached)
½ teaspoon kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons high-quality olive oil
Making the parsley pesto. Put all the ingredients, except the oil, into a food processor. Whirl them up. Slowly, drizzle in the oil until the bright-green mixture coheres. If the pesto feels too thick to you, add a touch of water to thin it out.
Making the citrus glaze. Put all the citrus juices into a saucepan. Bring the juice to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and allow the juice to bubble away, slowly, until the juice mixture has been reduced to ¼ cup.
Roasting the chicken breasts. Preheat the oven to 500°. Season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper. Put the olive oil in a large skillet, brought to heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts. Sear them until they are golden. Flip them. Toss the skillet into the hot oven. Roast the chicken breasts until the internal temperature has reached 150° (this should take about 20 minutes).
Assembling the dish. When the chicken has fully roasted, coat the entire breast with the citrus glaze, using a pastry brush to spread it on. Spoon a few tablespoons of parsley pesto on each plate. Nuzzle the chicken breasts on top. Serve immediately.