Island time moves slowly.
We drive down long, curving roads, expansive fields out the window, talking and laughing, sitting in silence sometimes. Ramshackle wooden barns, horses tossing their heads toward the sky, placid ponds surrounded by pygmy goats — they all flash by the window. Little Bean giggles and trills this new noise at the back of her throat, something like singing and purring at the same time. We are headed to the store.
The morning stretches long. Little Bean awakes somewhere near 5, but after a bit of patting and dancing, she stretches out in her crib, talking to her mobile while we sleep, a bit more. The coffee smells good, coming from the kitchen. Our new house may be strewn with boxes, but the kitchen is ours now. With cookbooks lining the shelves, and pots and pans in their places, the sunny yellow room at the heart of the house feels spacious and calm. We have cooked and cooked, from the first morning we awoke here, to the sound of Douglas firs swaying in the wind.
Tiny diced potatoes roasted in lard (from an island farm) and slow-scrambled eggs with goat cheese make the morning very fine indeed.
As I do the dishes, I see bursts of daffodils out the kitchen window, little fistfuls rising, splashes of yellow against black dirt. So welcome.
We amble slowly through the back yard, finding scraggly patches of thyme and purple sage. Raised beds lie waiting, for the Italian plum tomatoes we are planning, the bunches of lettuce greens, the kale and leeks, the green shoots we anticipate pushing through the earth. We have never really gardened before. This year, we will learn. (I’m not expecting much, though.)
We read the newspaper. Little Bean plays on the floor, rolling like a skirmish of a dust storm, grinning. We talk through the day, plan menus, take a few more books out of boxes and find a home for them on shelves.
Stately green trees against grey-sky wind. Birdsong seeping through the window. No airplanes overhead or cars going by. A napping baby.
It’s nearly noon. Time to venture into town — three or four streets’ worth of businesses, past it in the time it takes to turn toward each other in conversation and then look out the window again. We pull into the grocery store parking lot, again, already familiar with all the aisles. We’re shopping in small portions, each day, for now. We just like the excuse to drive along the water and watch the seagulls rise off whitecaps. (Every day, about 20 times a day, we look at each other and say, “Wow. We live here.”) And when everything feels new, the grocery store feels familiar.
At home again, I read Little Bean books on the floor of her new room — finding a sunny patch unencumbered by boxes — and watch her eyes widen. She reaches when we are done, holds the edges in both of her hands and holds the book above her head, studying it. And then, slowly, she brings it toward her face…and tries to chew on the corners, slobber running down her chin.
The Chef is in the kitchen, just outside the little one’s bedroom, blanching the broccoli we bought at the store. He dunks it in the boiling water and lets it bob for a moment, until it yields tenderly to the fork. I hear the big blender whirling on, a slow-building sound that becomes the loudest one in the neighborhood, for a few moments. He comes in the room, brandishing a plastic dish full of bright green. He pureed the broccoli with the blanching water for Little Bean.
The next morning, she leaned her entire face toward me, mouth open wide and tongue out flat. She cannot get enough of the cold broccoli puree. The little red spoon goes in her mouth mounded with the green and comes out clean. Within a few moments, the entire bowl is gone.
We’re not silly enough to think she will always love her vegetables. But in this first week of living on the island, before our work begins in earnest again, we’re grateful for the time to blanch and puree some broccoli, just to watch our daughter’s delight in eating another new food.
And you? What are you doing with your broccoli?
p.s. The magazine you see next to the broccoli puree is the April issue of Kiwi magazine, a lovely magazine for parents. This is their annual food issue, and I’m proud to say that I have the final essay of the magazine, a piece about feeding Little Bean food for the first time. Everything in it makes this issue worth buying.
p.p.s. I thought I was going to faint with exhaustion this week, but it was this surprise instead. This website was named one of Gourmet magazine’s favorite food sites. Gosh a mighty, thank you. This was such a lovely gift the week after moving.