light coming back.

The other morning, I woke up to sunlight. As has been happening for days, my mind wakes me up at 6 am, on the dot, and starts thinking about the cookbook. Other fleeting bits of conversations or emails that need attending start shoving their way in. That first glimmer of light comes through the window and my hungry mind and tired body don’t want to talk. I swing my legs over the bed and start walking toward the light.

By the time Danny and Lucy had woken up, that clear kind light was blowing through our front door. We all stopped to look at it.

This shouldn’t be such a big deal. Sunlight. Except, if you know the Pacific Northwest in February, you know what a gift this is. For days before this, the rain had been insistent, falling down from that slate-grey sky in spitballs. It just wouldn’t stop. It felt like taunting, like a slap in the face (literally) to not see the sun in days. And days.

So the first clear morning feels like benediction. Or maybe it just feels good.

We had no other choice but to dance.

These days, we have a new morning ritual. We all stretch and do some yoga together, and then we pile onto the couch to read as many Dr. Seuss and Frog and Toad books as we can. Danny and I drink our coffee as Lu eats her yogurt and honey. We watch clips from Showboat or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Ann Miller tap dancing. You see, Lu has gone crazy for MGM Musicals, and particularly the movie That’s Entertainment. She sees little clips of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney and loses her mind with excitement.

(I can’t tell you how excited I am to share all this with her. I don’t have to watch Thomas the Tank Engine right now! And I love those old movies.)

After a few clips, plus maybe a few more, we always end with Singing in the Rain. The three of us pick up sticks and pretend they are umbrellas while we dance around the living room in time with the number. Maybe Lu loves this song so much because of all the rain. Nah. It’s the genius of Gene Kelly and all that happiness.

Afterwards, we move to our bedroom, where Lu jumps and splays herself out on the bed, shouting “BIG SPLASH!” (I still think she might like Esther Williams best.)

The other morning, the light streamed through the windows like water bouncing up from the surface of a pool. I picked up the Polaroid camera and shot this.

I’m so glad I have this little moment on film.

Mornings are even more fleeting than normal around here right now. Especially the sunny ones.

Now that Danny’s in charge of the kitchen at the restaurant where he works, he leaves the house at 9:30. We miss him. Terribly. He used to leave the house at 2, after an entire morning with Lu at the playground or library, or the three of us cooking together. Now, he’s occupied, a little consumed. It’s unbelievable how much work goes into putting a plate of food in front of you at a restaurant.

Since all the recipes for our cookbook are due on Friday — with the rest of the writing due on March 12th, and then scene — Lu has been at preschool and daycare more often than normal. She’s loving it. And I love the time I have with her. But I miss her too.

After we finish dancing, and eat our breakfast together (the only meal all three of share right now), Lu asks for some time to cook. She runs to her little pink kitchen and starts stirring. “I’m making tortilla soup, Mama. With chipotles in adobo. Want some?” Or she tells us about a menu she’s planning: “We have cauliflower water, tomato sundaes, and a cherry on top!” One of us sits beside her to push a spatula in a skillet. The other makes things ready, gathering her clothes for school, packing her lunch.

Too early, the two of them are at the door. I kneel down on the floor and give Lu a big hug. She knows how to squeeze back now, hard. I tell her I love her. I kiss Danny and tell him I love him too. They walk toward the car together, Lu on her way to school, Danny on his way to work. Again.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished writing the last recipe for our cookbook.

Oh, there is much work left to do by Friday. And then there’s all that writing to polish. But right now, I am celebrating.

I can feel it.

Light coming back.

34 comments on “light coming back.

  1. Wendy

    Oh, blessings to you all as this wonderful thing is accomlished!
    Light=life! Hip, hip, hooray!
    Our youngest, now 16, was 3 the first time she saw Donald O’Connor do Make em laugh. She did just that. She got the humor of the whole thing! She even tried to do the back flips and the fall over the sofa bits. She is a truckload of fun at this age, Muppets to Monty Pyton! And making sure all her friends are just as informed as she can make them. Lucy is going to grow up to be cool.
    After all, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  2. Sami

    Treasure these wonderful moments with Lu, they grow up so fast…
    Enjoy the light, spring is on it´s way in your side of the world!

  3. Suze

    Oh, I love it that you share your life with us! And I share your love of the light as well. We are in a rainy season here right now (Georgia) and I can’t wait for the sunlight to come back! Blessings to you and your sweet family!

  4. Mel in Mo

    Hey Shauna!
    Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories of my daughter when she was 3! She is 25 now and I can’t believe how the time has flown. We used to dance on the bed, dance in the kitchen to David Boey singing “put on your red shoes and dance to the blues”. She loved Shirley Temple and the Wizard of Oz. She still knows it by heart. Oh, how I miss those days!
    Mel in Mo

  5. Megan

    When you share the cute things that Lu says it makes me smile. That a young child knows what chipotle in adobo is when many adults around me have no idea what that is … I love it and it gives me hope for the next generation. You guys should be very happy and proud. 🙂 Enjoy your sunlight and your mornings together. (P.S. I’m really looking forward to seeing the new cookbook.)

  6. Caneel

    Thinking of you and all that you are doing right now – best wishes in getting it all accomplished and keeping your spirits high – and still managing to come back and give updates and mood-boosts for the rest of us! 🙂

  7. Libby

    Hi Shauna!

    I loved those old MGM movies–if Lu likes “That’s Entertainment,” they have another film from the same set of releases called “That’s Dancing” that’s simply superb, and was recently released on DVD… Lots of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelley and Cyd Charisse, and hosted by a 1980’s Gene Kelley, Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr., and Baryshnikov! It was one of my favorites growing up. (Thanks for the memories!)

      1. Libby

        Sure! If I recall correctly, there might be some overlap between the two (you can’t do a movie about dancing without talking about “Singing in the Rain,” for instance) but lots of different features as well–Shirley Temple, Busby Berkeley, Bob Fosse, Eleanor Powell…and a young Michael Jackson! It’s pretty terrific.

        (And now I’m going to go watch it again.)

  8. michelle

    Echoing the comments above thank you for sharing your world with us. I always drop everything to read a new post and I love living in the pacific northwest vicariously through you!

  9. Pétra

    Yay it’s such a great feeling to have the sun coming back, of course today yuck but that’s how it is this time if year. Thank you for sharing your morning routine it sounds so special.

  10. Daphne


    Loved this post, especially the image of Lu watching all those wonderful oldies. My favorites were the ones starring Shirley Temple and/or Danny Kaye. My favs at her age were: 1) Babes in Toyland (1934) 2) The Blue Bird (1940) and 3) Hans Christian Anderson(1952). Sadly, my 11-year-old son is skeptical of such unabashedly sentimental fare, and always has been. It’s up to the rest of us to pass on the torch. 🙂

  11. Lynn Tracy Pawluk

    YOU are one of my lights, Shauna! Thank you. My little girl loved “The Sound of Music” at Lu’s age – has she seen it? Ali will be 30 this year and she still knows all the lines and lyrics. 30,,,OMG!

  12. Brooke @ Food Woolf

    Sigh. Your photos, the light, and the dreamy quality of your words makes me feel like I’m cozied up on the couch with you and all the picture books. I know you’re in the thick of it, but it’s certainly a beautiful place to be. I think they call ’em quality problems. You’re blessed to have such great things happening and we’re lucky to go along on the ride with you. hugs,

  13. Mira C

    Congratulations on nearly being complete with writing your book! What an amazing accomplishment. I hope you and your family can take time to rest and be together upon completion.

  14. Mirna

    Congratulations on finishing your book. I love that you read Frog and Toad with Lucy. I love those books. My girls however never found them quite as funny and enjoyable as I did. Wishing you more happy days with your loved ones.

  15. Brie

    Oh, I SO know how you are feeling right now. I submitted the first draft of my dissertation this week. There’s edits and proofreading and some missing bits. But…oh, I feel lighter! I was giddy for an hour after I emailed it off! It’s been sunny here, too. Lovely weather. But I could dance in the rain right now!

  16. Sam

    Your writing makes me want to live everything till I’m stuffed full! I want to be a mother someday who starts every morning by playing. Your words prove that it’s possible even if I haven’t directly experienced it. I am so grateful to that.
    I hope your celebration was sweet, and YES thank God for these moments of sunlight. I’m a newbie to the PNW and still… getting used to it.

  17. molly

    1. i am loving this new polaroid
    2. we have never watched musicals. ?!?!?
    3. now i need to go read the piece on play…

    1. shauna

      Molly, you have never watched musicals?! Oh my dear, get to this. I want to share them with you.

  18. Cindy

    Yes, I thought we’d never see the sun again! Oh sweet morning sunlight!
    Lulu is such a fun age! What a delight.
    I will be at the restaurant this Thursday for lunch and Friday for dinner. Can’t wait! It’s so difficult to eat out with all my allergies and gluten intolerance.
    I’ll be spending a long weekend on your island (Camp Burton) for a spinning retreat. Spinning, as in making yarn by hand, not as in bicycles.
    Can’t wait for your new book!
    And keep writing, love to read your adventures.

  19. Molly

    Such a precious picture of Lu; thank you for sharing it. Shauna, I’m all atwitter about the new house! Have you begun moving? Do you have some pics of the new space? I’m sure I’m not the only one who is dying to see it! And congratulations! 🙂

  20. Sasha (Global Table Adventure)

    Congratulations on reaching such a milestone…. Even with polishing around the corner, you are most of the way there. I believe roughing in is the hardest part. Unless you consider the planning. I’ve always loved that story about Michelangelo… where he sits and stares at an 18 foot block of marble every day for 4 months… When asked “What are you doing?” Michelangelo whispers, “Sto lavorando”. “I’m working.” Another three years later, that block of marble was the Statue of David. Beautiful.

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