slowly, lightly

finished scones

As I sit down to write, it’s nearly 9 pm. Outside, it feels like bright daylight. These days, these almost-summer days of light until late and light early in the morning —— they feel like a happy fugue state suffused with sunlight. We’re moving through the days slowly, lightly, not clinging to anything. Lucy’s doing a lot of dancing on the back deck. This June, for the first time in years, we are living what feels like the loveliest words: “70 degrees and sunny.” Usually here, we have to wait until after the 4th of July to truly say it’s summer.

Danny has been cooking up a storm, humming in the kitchen. He made beet chips today, along with an eggplant chutney with fennel and turmeric, a simmered tomato sauce for Lu’s pasta at lunch tomorrow, pickled carrots and radishes, and a green cilantro-listen-to-the back-of-my-mouth-sing marinade for prawns, which he threw on the grill. We’ll probably post them all here, over the next few weeks. Lately, we feel like playing even more than usual.

I have to tell you about our trip to Italy with Jovial, about our time in the Cinque Terre eating farinata with friends on the top of a long set of steps in the sunlight. And the trip to the produce market where the borlotti beans were speckled red and so bright they hurt the eyes. I still think of the view from the top of the hill in Barga. And of course, there was prosciutto, stuffed quail, gluten-free pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven, fresh pecorino made in Garfagna, and prosecco. And laughter. And so much cooking. I’ll start telling you stories in a day or so.

But for now, the kitchen is clean, the kiddo is asleep, and I want to share some of what we have been reading on these long summer days.

Lucy has always been a fan of the Knuffle Bunny books, some of the funniest and sweetest children’s books I’ve ever read. Lately, she has asked me to read her Knuffle Bunny Free many times a day. The ending of that book always makes me cry, especially now, with Lu turning 5 next month. (5?!)

I might be the last person to finally buy Brené Brown’s beautiful book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. I’ve adored Brené and her work for years, so I’m not sure how this slipped into my Kindle list only now. Oh goodness. It’s such a great book to be reading as I’m preparing to turn 47 in 6 weeks. (47?!)

The Theodore Roosevelt quote that Brené Brown cited in her book has been rattling around in my mind for weeks: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs.… [And] if he fails, at least fails while Daring Greatly.” (You can read Brené’s interview with Oprah here.)

I loved this piece in the Modern Love column in The New York Times about a man having to tell his mother to stop cooking for him so often, now that he’s married.

One of my favorite writers of all time, Colum McCann, talks about his writing life —— he sits in a tiny office that used to be a closet, to seal off all distractions —— and the powerful phrase, radical empathy. Yes.

Brace yourself for this one. But you must read this haunting, restrained piece about Newtown parents trying to hold on and live after losing their 7-year-old. Please read it. Please.

Finally, this is less reading and more listening. Go to this site to hear acoustic versions of The Beatles’ White Album. I’ve been listening all week, enthralled.

In a bit of news we’d like to share with you, Danny and I have begun writing a gluten-free column for one of our favorite food websites, Food52. Would you like to make these gluten-free rhubarb scones you see up there? Here’s the recipe.

 

The light is gathering into dimness outside. I’m closing up the laptop now.

6 comments on “slowly, lightly

  1. Jules

    What a lovely, gentle and inspiring post today. And perfectly timed for me to be reading the Roosevelt quotation as I am still smarting from a nasty e.mail from a friend of more than 20 years informing me that I go on too much about my child’s diabetes. I am constantly on high alert and am exhausted. It felt mean-spirited to knock me in this way and that quotation gave me strength. Thank you for your perfect timing, Shauna. Look forward to the recipes and the tales of Italy. x

  2. Coffee and Crumpets

    Thank you Shauna! I have been struggling to go GF for months now…I love my flour and baked goods. However, my RA would be so much better if I gave I all up. These scones look fantastic and since I am a Brit, I have to have my scones. Thank you for the push I need. It’s time to experiment with gluten free baking.

    Nazneen

  3. Beverly Buys

    I will read anything you recommend Shauna. I am glad you are having an early summer. We had a great spring down south as well, only now getting hot and sticky instead of a month ago as has been the usual. A long time follower and you are a huge inspiration to me in following my own dreams. Not gluten — free but I enjoy your writing so much and that is what I come for. From the outside looking in your life seems magical.

  4. Keesje

    It’s a been a while since I read your blog and I am loving the new look! Congrats. Also really glad you are writing for Food52 — one of my favourite food troves too. Here’s hoping you convince all of their contributors to baking in weights. I’ve got some rhubarb in the garden just for it and I made some rhubarb jam (with rosemary and honey instead of half the sugar) last week so it was obviously fate to read this! All the best

  5. Beth W.

    Those Knuffle Bunny books (and all Mo Willems’ books, actually) are so great. We’ve been reading the “Free” one nonstop recently, although we did sadly have to return it to the library. His writing is so fresh and real and honest, it’s much less tedious after so many repetitions than most other kids’ books.

  6. Dana

    Shauna, I love your beautiful meandering posts that always go places, that always come full circle, not to mention your recipes. But I’m a reader and a writer at heart, more than a cook or a baker, so when you offered some reading suggestions I was eager to explore them. The Modern Love piece was fantastic, but I resisted the Newton piece for days because I just. couldn’t. do. it. Then tonight I opened the link, partly out of responsibility, because it IS our responsibility not to forget about that day and those children and adults, and so I read it and wept continuously while my eighteen month old son slept beside me. So much of my life as a stay at home mom (and would be writer) can feel like drudgery and monotony and tedium, and unfortunately it takes a tragedy like Newton for that drudgery and monotony and tedium to reveal its intrinsic beauty, to remind a tired worn out mom to be damn grateful for all of it, and I am, and so thank you, and my heart hurts for those families, still.