I’ve decided that this should be my birthday dinner every year: fresh-caught crab, steamed and lay down next to a bowl of warm pastured butter, roasted local potatoes with melted cheese that has crusted around the crags, brussels sprouts and kale salad with pecans and pecorino, plus fresh mozzarella with flaky salt.
All of it prepared in the beach house of our friends Julie and Mike, the doors to the back deck open, the Beatles playing, cool air wafting off the water, the kids laughing, and an entire evening together stretching before us.
air so hot I can’t imagine eating anything but pieces of cool cucumber mixed with cold yogurt, topped with sesame seeds and toasted walnuts.
sprinklers offering feeble amounts, as everyone in the neighborhood is running the water against the 90-degree heat, but the kids don’t care and run through the sprinkles barely hitting their knees, giggling with each other.
children swinging slowly, going nowhere in circles, in a tire swing above green grass.
hours spent slowly at the beach with friends, the children burying each other in the sand, then switching to digging as fast as they can, until they find China, but being happy instead with standing in the hole and resting their chins on the rim.
feet in the grey cool sand, pushing back and forth and back and forth, as I talk with friends but mostly staying quiet as I watch the waves curl in on the shore, not needing to talk because I am where I need to be.
hands stretching toward another red cherry on a branch just slightly out of reach, grabbing.
bowls full of ripe red cherries off the tree from our backyard, waiting to be made into almond coconut cherry crisp.
squeals of delight as the kids jump on a trampoline with a sprinkler underneath it. Their feet make squelchy wet splashes as they slap against the trampoline and they laugh and laugh and laugh.
gluten-free gnocchi just made, on the table outside for dinner, with cold roasted chicken, and suddenly I can imagine eating something besides cucumbers with yogurt.
droplets arcing through the air in the golden sunlight of the backyard, water I’m pointing at my husband hiding behind the magnolia tree, and the spray from him heading toward our daughter, who is drenched from our water fight in 90 degrees, and my skirt is heavy and falling off my hips and Danny took off his glasses and his hair is dripping from the epic after-dinner battle we had with a cooler full of cold water and three cheap toy guns.
evening rides in the car, with a sleepy girl in the back, so wired after being outside all day that she has forgotten how to sleep, so we drive around the island, spying red barns and green fields and tall trees dark against the gloaming light of the sky and horses running and families eating and glimmers of golden light that intensify everything before they fade and barns falling down and women in their gardens and tractors parked next to houses ready for the work of the next day.
Crosby Stills Nash and Young softly playing in the background and our girl’s eyelids start to flutter as she says, “Tell me a story, Mama. Tell me a story.” And I tell her the story of Beauty and the Beast or The Music Man. But mostly, I tell her the story of our day together, to remind her of how much has happened, the adventures we had, and the joy that awaits her when she opens her eyes in the morning.
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We love potlucks in this house. There’s something humble and lovely about a potluck. Sure, dinner parties are great: the day of prepping and anticipation, the smells coming from the kitchen, the moment of lowering the…