Friday Night Dinner 24

What We’re Eating & Drinking: Grilled Peaches & Kris Pinot Grigio

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The weather’s warm and the coals are hot and we’ve been grilling like crazy here at the riverside. Do you remember how Michele made grilled pineapple for dessert on your last night here in the States last summer? Well, a few weeks ago I got to thinking about that night and remembered how delicious the spread was, despite our heavy hearts. After rummaging through the fridge for a minute (I didn’t even have to go to Foodtown!) I had collected a bowlful of summer fruits and was ready to give the grilling of them a try myself. A quick Google search told me that all I needed was firm fruit, hot coals and a little dab of butter and I’d be in business and it was really that easy. Since that night we’ve been grilling peaches at least once a week, and instead of serving them as dessert (though they are divine topped with some ice cream or crème fraîche), we usually pair them with lean pork or a skirt steak as a succulent side dish. The sweetness of the fruit complements the savoriness of the meat and the smoky, grilled flavor ties it all together. I’m no foodie, but YUM! I think I’m onto something. In other news, Ray has tired of my rosé binge so tonight I got him his favorite Pinot Grigio–one from northern Italy to sip as we watch the river and enjoy these glorious summer nights.

Gina: Do you have any Modena Balsamic left!? That’s delicious on grilled peaches or pineapples or anything grilled, even steak! If not, I’m bringing you some next month. The rest sounds lovely too, especially the riverside part.

 

What We’re Talking About: Noah’s First Trip Alone

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Noah and a cannon (and the tour guide) in Gettysburgh.

OK, so he wasn’t actually ALONE, but this past week Noah went on a trip without me or his father for the first time! I know that Zo’s been doing this kind of thing with your parents and Francois forever, but for Noah and all of the back-and-forth that he deals with on a weekly basis, this was kind of a big deal for him. The trip was a quick one–just two nights with his grandparents (Al’s folks)–to Gettysburgh, PA (only about 4 hours away) to check out the Civil War Museum and do some genealogy research about Noah’s Irish-immigrant family. Noah had a blast and was not the least bit nervous about the time away. I kept myself busy here so mostly the two days flew by and, when it wasn’t, I reminded myself of what a great experience he was having. Noah’s so lucky to have four loving grandparents in great health who enjoy spending time with him…what a gift. And what a perfect quick summer getaway.

Gina: Fantastic! I bet he enjoyed every detail of the Civil War Museum and listened intently to every bit of information that tour guide had to share. Zoel would have loved it too. He has a trip coming up with his grandmother to DC next month, which reminds me that we have to start getting ready for our transoceanic voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Dinner 24

What We’re Eating & Drinking: Venetian Goodies and Quintarelli Giuseppe

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This week we’ll be in Venice for dinner, eating… you guessed it, pasta! But not just the world’s favorite starch, probably fish as well.  Baccalà or cod is the most popular in the city of water, especially in the form of Baccalà Mantecato. Being such an international stop though, there is a bit of every Italian region represented on most menus, which means decent versions of pesto pasta from Genova, tagliatelle al ragu from Bologna, and penne all’ arrabbiata from the South can be found anywhere. The trick really is hunting down the authentic Venetian restaurant among the hundreds of tourist spots that populate Venice’s winding alleyways! We’re also enjoying a wine that we first saw at Yannetelli’s in Cold Spring, which they have displayed in an important-looking wooden box, with a 3-digit price tag. We were lucky to find it at a fraction of the cost in Venice and it’s delicious!

Christine: I remember wandering the streets of Venice last fall, having been warned about the tourist-y food and hoping that we wouldn’t stumble upon one for the only meal we were eating in the city. Luckily we found a tiny restaurant tucked in an alley. It was lunchtime and the place was filled with Italian men dressed suits and working clothes and we figured we’d hit on a good spot. Incidentally, I remember that Ray had some sort of fish. Of course Noah and I split several plates of pasta. I remember that wine, too! It’s so fun you found it there. I don’t remember drinking it, though. Maybe we’ll pick up a bottle for the weekend–if it’s not a hundred bucks!

 

What We’re Talking About: Does anyone ever really get to know this watery land?

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I love this quote from NBC news that comes up when you search for Venice: “Venice appears to have more nicknames than street names. It’s known as the “Queen of the Adriatic,” the “City of Water,” “City of Masks,” “City of Bridges,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Canals. How about the “Floating Queen City of Water, Masks, Bridges and Canals”? Oh, and they forgot “Tourists”, “City of Tourists”. Venice has all of these things and it really is breathtaking, every single time, but on this our sixth or seventh visit to the place, I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to ever get past all the tourism! I’ve had glimpses of what a Venice without all those German, Japanese, Dutch, French, American, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Saudi, Blah, Blah, Blah, would be like, but it’s always just a fleeting moment. Much like downtown New York, the locals are living parallel lives with the tourists, sharing the same 118 little islands that make up the city, but crossing paths sparingly. Occasionally, we mistakenly stumble onto one of these hidden alleyways. Immediately, the clatter dies down and the cobblestone lanes are no longer covered by marching sports shoes. A couple appears, holding hands and speaking Italian to each other! The neighborhood cafe in front of a narrow canal is tiny and charming, and there are no pictures of food on the menu! From the table outside, you notice a small 1500s era bridge just as a boat glides under it, and if you squint a bit, you can see yourself in a Renaissance scene taking place right on the very spot. None of that has happened today during our mid-summer visit, but I’m happy to have spent a few hours walking through these beautiful streets once again anyway. Now on to packing for the good ol’ U.S.A!

Christine: Like a small town American girl from upstate New York is wont to do, I fell in love with Venice when I was there (grimace), but maybe the very reason the city became an object of my affection was because it IS so difficult a place to know. I’m like that with men and jobs and friends and other things, too–always going after the elusive, the convoluted, the intangible. I mean the incontrovertible beauty of the place is impossible to deny–making it an easy repository for the romantic hopes and dreams of ten thousand tourists. Also, my connection to water (the Hudson River–here, or the Atlantic Ocean–where I spent summers as a child) is tried and true. [Last weekend when we were in New Hampshire, I found myself feeling a bit claustrophobic after a few days because of the land-locked nature of the state.] Though you visiting the place as many times as you have (and for so many different reasons and occasions), makes me think it just might be a city that doesn’t want to be known and maybe that’s okay, too. 

Family Weekend in New England

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 5.42.45 AMWe’re sticking pretty close to home this summer but this past weekend we ventured out into the world for a few days–driving all the way to New London, New Hampshire–a little town in the central part of the state where my brother and his family live. It was one of those impromptu trips that you decide to take on a Tuesday night at 10pm after a phone conversation with a family member or a friend reminds you how much you miss spending time with someone. Despite Skype calls and text messages and Facebook posts, which allow me to see the faces of my family members who are scattered all over the globe, nothing can compare with the sweet nectar of face-to-face time, the sharing of a meal and just quietly sitting next to a loved one over morning coffee.

All sentiment aside, this particular brother (I have two others) also happens to be husband to my fantastically fun sister-in-law and father to my niece and three nephews (one of whom is Noah’s exact age and close ally) who provide tons of energy and an instant party, just by gathering in one room. All that camaraderie, our shared history and our eagerness to be together–combined with with the picturesque lake that they live on (and the plethora of kayaks, Sunfish boats, water skis and hiking trails that abound) added a perfect variation to our hitherto, extremely quiet summer.

New England (a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) has a unique cultural and aesthetic flavor, distinct within in its borders and markedly different from the border state of New York, where we live. New England’s heritage and culture was shaped by waves of immigration and its earliest Puritan settlers came from eastern England, contributing to the distinctive accents, foods, customs, and social structures found there. It’s also ridiculously pretty and clean.

We’ve visited New London on many other occasions, but almost all of the trips have been during the winter months–the region is known for its skiing and snowsports much more so than its boating and sunbathing–and we thought it might be nice to see the mountains swathed in green instead of buried under ribbons of white snow. We also decided to avoid highways on the drive north and, instead, took old, winding roadways that meandered through small villages and towns and along miles of land that remains untouched by urban sprawl. It was so different than the undeveloped land where we live–which either needs to be incorporated and protected as part of a land preserve or is for sale to the highest bidder.

Along the way we enjoyed a delicious lunch at an organic deli in Vermont, we stopped for gas and snacks at a quirky little station in the middle of a field in rural upstate New York and when we arrived in New Hampshire, wine and pizza waiting for us–along with a weekend filled with swimming, s’mores and succulent fun.

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Unexpected Charm on the Atlantic Coast of France

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Marrying a French guy has turned out to be a pretty good deal over these last 17 years. One of the perks has been getting to know the bits of France where Stefan’s family has roots like Paris, Marseilles, Cannes and Provence, but nothing had ever lured us toward the Southwest until this month, when a family reunion of sorts, for a special birthday, led us to the Bordeaux region. When Stefan mentioned where we were going, we had a laugh over vacationing in a wine region, because that’s exactly what we need… more wine. We didn’t think much more about it, knowing that we’d be flying into three days of scheduled festivities, and so wouldn’t have much say over where we visited or what we did.

We had no idea that Bordeaux also includes an area of small ocean towns surrounding the Bay of Arcachon, and Europe’s highest dune located in Pyla-sur-Mer, our final destination. We were surprised on the way from the airport to our hotel as the roadways became smaller and smaller, soil transitioned to sand alongside them, the smell of salty air swirled in through the windows and finally the sight of the dark blue water of the Atlantic Ocean started streaming past us. Where were the vineyards and the French country villages? We were staying at the beach?! Yippee! I was reminded of past arrivals in beach towns from  Wildwood, New Jersey, that I mentioned last week, to the North Fork in New York, from South Beach in Miami to Cannes in the South of France, all very different, and yet, at some level, absolutely the same. It must be the rhythmic movement of the waves and salty breeze that immediately calms everyone down and slows life’s relentless (and maybe unnatural) pace for all who enter these coastal territories.

The car pulled up on a roundabout of La Co(o)rniche, a Philippe Starck designed hotel, beautifully ironic given the sentiments expressed on Stefan’s recently released I Used to Love YouDespite the song lyrics, even Stefan had to agree that Starck had created a comfortable yet modern, peaceful yet entertaining space that fit well within the rugged nature surrounding it. Over a 4-day weekend in this lovely part of the world, we climbed the dune to discover a giant forest that spanned out as far as the ocean on the other side of it, we road the waves on motor boats to visit pretty nearby villages like Cap Ferret, where we were treated to some of the freshest seafood we’ve ever had (the area is known for its oysters, which unfortunately none of us eat!), and got to spend time with a wonderfully eclectic group of family and friends. Sometimes traveling with no expectations is truly the best way to go! IMG_1082 IMG_1175

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Friday Night Dinner 23

What We’re Eating and Drinking: Corn on the Cob & Domaine de Vaufuget Vouvray

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As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, summer is my most favorite time of the year and that’s partly because so many delicious foods are available at the markets now. One summertime treat I cannot get enough of (because it’s really only available for a few weeks each year) is corn-on-the-cob. Do they eat corn this way in Italy? Growing up my father and my grandmother (his Solvak mother, not my mother’s Italian one) used to plant a giant garden in our backyard–which is a really big field and had space to grow all kinds of things. They would plant every kind of vegetable imaginable: tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, peas, beets, radishes, lettuce and…corn. Rows and rows of sweet corn. I remember running through that corn field with my brother and hacking at the plants-that towered over our heads with stick-swords. I also remember carefully walking through the rows with my father, listening intently as he taught me which ears were ready to pick and which ones needed a few more hot days on the stalk. We’d gather a dozen ears, shucking them as we walked, and then cook them up in the pot of boiling water my mother had ready on the stove. To this day, I remember it as  the most delicious corn I’ve ever tasted. In upstate New York (where I grew up) corn isn’t ready until mid-August, but down here in the more-temperate Hudson Valley we can get local corn now, in mud-July. It’s best served piping hot and smothered with butter & salt which, I know, negates some of the healthy vegetable qualities of the food, but…yum! It’s summer after all!

Gina: Beautiful! I have yet to see a single piece of fresh corn at the food markets here. Maybe it’s later in the summer? Or maybe they’re not so into corn in these parts. Come to think of it, I haven’t had fresh corn on the cob since last year! In addition to the butter and salt, we like it with olive oil, parmigiano and peperoncino! Enjoy.

 

What We’re Talking About: Getting Wet & Muddy at Camp

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Noah’s is finishing up his second week of summer camps and it’s been an exciting, albeit dirty, muddy and wet time. He’s spent his days running around the fields of Bowdoin Park, a 300 acre swath of riverside grass and tress near Noah’s old school, in a camp that teaches survival skills, animal tracking techniques and Native American folklore. Last week Noah spent long afternoons sailing up and down the river. He’s in that boat in the left photo above! He and the other kids launched boats from Dockside, right in front of our house, so if I watched the river carefully I could get a peek of them floating by. So many mornings he wished Zo was joining him on the escapades, too, but we’ve been so glad to partake in your adventures from afar. Happy weekend!

Gina: I’m sure Zoel would have enjoyed every second of this camp with Noah. Hell, I think I would have enjoyed this camp with Noah! We’re relishing a few low key days here after our last trip, and as I was saying on Wednesday, I think I could do with a few more weeks of the same. Kids too…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Dinner 23

What We’re Eating and Drinking: Pasta with Lentils and Water

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Just about every meal we’ve had over the last two weeks has been accompanied by a glass of wine (or two or four), so we’re trying to stick to water for a few days! I think I first started to make this dish when we got here last July, and didn’t have a lot stocked in the kitchen yet, but it’s turned out to be one of our favorites. The lentils and pasta are the base and then we  add whatever’s available – prosciutto, veggies, sun-dried tomatoes or just herbs and parmesan.

Christine: Okay. At the last meeting with my writing ladies we were talking about all of the imbibement that seems to occur come summer. Lentils=good. Prosciutto, veggies, sun-dried tomatoes or just herbs and parmesan=good. Yum!

 

What We’re Talking About: A Different Kind of Summer

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Our summer is feeling a bit erratic to me, kind of like this random night of dancing on the piazza of a small neighborhood in Sciacca, Sicily. Some moments can be so unexpectedly delightful, others so utterly ridiculous, and yet others, totally anxiety-provoking. Last summer had some of the same characteristics, but I figured it was the move that had thrown everything out of kilter. Alas, it may just be the nature of living in another country temporarily or of exploration in general.  In any case, I remember that I arrived at last September, holding on to my sanity by a string, so I’m trying to find some internal calm and make those spaces for myself during the day that I talked about here just 4 or 5 weeks ago, but so far, I’m not so good at it. Maybe better than last year, but there’s still a good chunk of summertime to go, and my mental health really could go either way! In the meantime though, we had a lovely time in France and Sicily last week, and I’m feeling like I need to do a whole other post about them for next week, instead of launching into a summary here. But in general, the town in France that we visited, Pyla-Sur-Mer, turned out to be surprisingly beautiful, and the area we went to in Sicily, Menfi, surprisingly dull. We’ve already decided we’ll need to give Sicily another try in the near future… maybe we could rope you into that trip! I’ll call you this weekend to catch up more! x

Christine: Yes! We’re in for Sicily! Also:

Summer Night, Riverside

Sara Teasdale, 1884 – 1933
In the wild soft summer darkness 
How many and many a night we two together 
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson 
Wearing her lights like golden spangles 
Glinting on black satin. 
The rail along the curving pathway 
Was low in a happy place to let us cross, 
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom 
Sheltered us, 
While your kisses and the flowers, 
Falling, falling, 
Tangled in my hair.... 

The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky. 

And now, far off 
In the fragrant darkness 
The tree is tremulous again with bloom 
For June comes back. 

To-night what girl 
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair 
This year’s blossoms, clinging to its coils?

 

Midsummer’s Mirth & Melancholy

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‘Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing’ by William Blake

Today is July 15th so technically it’s well past midsummer here in the Hudson Valley. When the term is used correctly, midsummer denotes the celebrations and festivals that mark the summer solstice and the longest day of the year–an occurrence that falls at the end of June. Today–three weeks after the longest day of 2014–the earth has already begun to tilt its northern hemisphere away from the sun, incrementally adding minutes to our nights and steadily marching us towards winter and darkness. Midsummer, at this point, really is just a dream.

But forget science and poetics for a minute. I’m taking license with the term and using it to describe the fact that today feels to me, psychologically anyway, like the middle of summer; the safest, best part of the year. It’s equidistant from the end of the chilly spring and the arrival of the chilly autumn. We’re living inside the few weeks of the year when it is completely and truly Summer.

Here at the riverside we’ve fallen into a slow and soothing routine–no school for Noah means long, relaxing mornings in our pajamas when we make waffles and Nescafé and walk the dog together before heading out to camp or on the day’s errands. Some days we’ll have a fancy lunch outside and coax Ray out of his office to join us for a little while. Afterwards we’ll water the herb garden, check the tide and maybe go on an afternoon paddle. Longer, brighter evenings mean late dinners in the gazebo, sunset swims with Luca and candlelit games of chess accompanied by pizza and wine. Even though Ray’s work is busy and I’m still (frantically) looking for a job, the pace of our days is unhurried, and I find myself bursting with contentment, especially on nights when it looks like we’re doing nothing at all.

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Checkmate.

There’s magic in the air right now–and not only because of the canopy of blinking fireflies covering the yard and all that birdsong at dusk. Sitting outside at 9pm, barefoot and wearing a sundress, IS the very definition of summer to me. It’s that simple. The humidity pressing against my skin is healing and the cool flagstone underneath my feet is comforting and the  gentle purple twilight creeping in over the river melts away all of the stress from the day’s job search and softens the worry about paying next week’s bills. Peace descends with nighttime in the summer. And surrender. During winter, night falls like an ax, violent and deadly–uprooting all of my anxiety and leaving it exposed and writhing at my (sock covered) feet.

Laughter is easy during summer, too. Even when storms move at us across the river and threaten a perfect evening. We always stay outside until we hear the first rumble of thunder and then Ray and Noah and I quickly blow out the tea lights and gather the dishes and the chess board and run inside, trying (and not trying) to dodge the fat drops of warm rain. We race around the house closing the windows and comforting the dog (who hates storms) and eventually end up on the couch together, damp and laughing and out of breath. These are moments when lightening seems like a blessing. Or an answered prayer.

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“15” is half of something, right?

But each passing day, as lovely and mirthful as the cumulative moments of them might be, is just bringing us closer and closer to the inevitable season(s) that come next. Three of them. Three of them that are mostly made up of days and nights that are dark and gloomy and cold.

This reality came charging at me the other day when I went outside to water the garden and noticed that one of our tomatoes had turned red. Ripened tomatoes on the vine, along with the early corn you can now find at farmers’ markets around here, are a sure sign that summer’s song is coming to its inevitable end. After all, the ripening of said fruit is the final stage in the life cycle of this plant; and of this season. All that’s left is the thing falling to the ground and decomposing or, you know, me cutting it up and eating with a nice fat wedge of mozzarella and a sprinkle of salt.

Harrumph.

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It takes a pretty cynical soul to lament the arrival of a garden’s bounty, but the folks who know me best won’t be surprised by my perspective. Maybe I’m extra sensitive to  summer’s mellowing because of the very long, very snowy winter that we endured this past year and I just don’t want to be cold again. Maybe in my older age (I’ll officially hit the ‘mid forties’ next month) I’m simply more aware of the passage of time.

My suspicion, though, is that my melancholy is the result of something else; specifically my inability to recognize and feel gratitude. Yep. Gratitude. I mean, sure, I say “thank you” when it’s socially appropriate–I’m not a exactly a heathen–but the thanks I give is, at best, intellectually driven. I can be obsessively polite and self-denying to a fault, but the “thank yous” I offer seem lifeless and gaunt and, at times, insincere. Like my appreciation (or, rather, my lack of) for that tomato and the soil and all that sunshine and rain. My suspicion is that I’m mistaking sadness for gratitude. It’s midsummer after all, and not time to lament. We’re heading to New Hampshire to see my brother and his family this coming weekend and Gina will be here, sitting at my kitchen table, very soon. In a few weeks we’ll get to party in Philly with my favorite adopted family and then, just a day later, we’ll party at the Cape with my real one.

The thing is, it is summer NOW and it’s high time I realized that before it’s not anymore. Thank goodness I have half a season left work it out.

Summer Nostalgia

When I was a kid, our family summer vacation always included going to the beach, and then doing next to nothing for a solid week. During the rest of the year, my dad’s schedule involved working 10-hour long days, usually six days a week, and my mom’s consisted of holding together everything else during those long days (and nights.) Given this, it’s not at all surprising that vacation meant parking ourselves under an umbrella on a hot, sandy beach with a cooler filled with sandwiches, soda and beer, and absolutely nada on the agenda. That kind of full stop is what I’m craving right now as we race past the middle of summer, with 2 trips out of the country, a few road trips, 3 sets of guests, and more than a few local events under our belt, and with much more to come before the end of August rolls around.

All of this movement has me thinking about one of my parents’ preferred locations for their restful summer pause from the stress of everyday life, Wildwood, New Jersey. If you’ve never been, Wildwood is a one-of-a-kind East Coast beach town populated by 1960s art deco motels, many of them conceived with a design theme like the Casa Bahama or Lollipop Motels. 

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It’s just a 3-hour drive from Philadelphia, but we’d get up extra early to pile all of our things into the Buick, and make it to the shore before lunchtime. I remember the excitement in the car as we neared our destination, and started to smell the fishy air of the bay and feel the warm, salty breeze coming in through the rolled down windows. Vacation began at that very instant. We packed our sony walkmans, mad libs, tiger beat magazines and invisible ink fun pads back into our sacks, knowing that soon we’d be winding through Wildwood looking for our colorful ocean side motel.

There was yet more anticipation as my dad went into the motel office to get the keys to our room. Which floor would we be on? Would we be near our cousins? Would the strangely alluring ice machine be closeby? Would we face the pool? The beach? Would we have a balcony? Which bed would my sister and I get? Would the room have a kitchenette? It was enough to keep two little girls giggling and bouncing around the giant backseat of the car for hours. Luckily for my mother, it was over in minutes, as we raced after my father to uncover all the mysteries held by our motel room. By that time, the cousins had probably arrived and were doing the same. A lot of running back and forth between rooms usually then ensued as our parents lugged in our bags and beach gear.

Shortly after a quick lunch at the motel’s diner and a change of clothes, we would all climb the stairs down to the beach to set up our spot for the day. Beach towels were arranged side by side, two or three umbrellas were driven into the sand and opened, the cooler was strategically placed between my dad and uncle, and our bags of multi-colored buckets, shovels and sand sifters were dropped close, but not too close, to the adults. And that was it. There we would exist, between the motel and the beach, the beach and the motel, for five or six days. Well, that was almost it.

We’d be deliciously exhausted by the sun, sand and water every evening, but managed, at least 2 or 3 nights out of the week, to make it over to Wildwood’s Morey’s Piers, a seemingly never-ending wooden boardwalk, packed with rides, games, food and t-shirt stands. I only wish I had a picture of the totally rad air-brushed baseball shirt that I got on the boardwalk in 1980… light pink sleeves and a white torso, a black and white checked background on the chest, my name in graffiti emblazoned over the top, complete with sparkling stars. In addition to getting totally awesome shirts, we tried our luck at picking yellow plastic ducks out of a spinning pond for prizes, devoured delicious funnel cake and cotton candy, and then tried to keep them down while spinning on the super loud music express train.

But in the morning, we’d be back at the beach with nowhere to run to, nothing on the schedule at all, no monuments, no historic sites, no lunch reservations, no crazy dinners, no event start times, and no summer homework. It was great for us kids, but frankly, we probably would have been fine anywhere school was out. I realize now, that for our parents, it may have been an even more special place, and the perfect way to rest their bodies and minds. They were too far from home and work to be weighed down by their normal responsibilities, yet the surroundings and people were familiar and comfortable. They weren’t tethered to a smart phone beeping with messages or news from the world outside the beach. All they had to focus on was not losing their joy-filled kids and keeping the overflowing cooler in the shade. Magic.

I’m very grateful for all the things were able to do and see over the course of one summer, but next time around, I’m going to keep Wildwood in mind, and make sure there’s at least one week of the summer just like it. For now, we’ll have to steal some lazy moments when we can, like this rare occurrence from yesterday, all of us sitting at the same time, in the same place. Magic.

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Hudson River, New York, USA

This summer is turning out to be a ‘stay-at-home’ time for our family here on the western edge of the Atlantic. It’s not that we’re trying to be sedentary, but life’s predicaments, as they sometimes do, have dictated a season of job searches (for me and Ray) and local day camps (for Noah) and we’re trying to make the best of it. Honestly, it’s been a pleasure to stay home, as we’ve never really spent an entire summer here, watching the leaves get greener and the endless parade of storms pass through the valley. Other years we’ve traveled during summertime; looking out and over there for inspiration and delight.

Lingering at the edge of the river is not only proving to be beautiful and serene, but is offering us plenty of opportunities to observe difference and the reshaping of the world that is happening all around us, all the time. Sure, this physical staying in the same place requires discipline and a keen eye when it comes to noticing the world–it’s easy to stop seeing the sunset over the river each night or our resident cardinal’s daily breakfast routine. Attention to what is happening around you is a necessary element of remaining open-minded and not developing tunnel vision about one’s life. It is vital to immerse oneself in difference and to discern variations in the natural world, a practice that is automatic when traveling but less so when you’re staying in one place.

When you’re staying in one place some transformations, typically those that take weeks or months to happen–think springtime or tomatoes ripening on the vine–can be missed or noticed only after a change is so pronounced (the snow is GONE, the tomato is RED) it’s impossible not to see it. In those instances we miss the melting, the subtle shades of pink and that’s a shame. Sometimes, though, changes are abrupt and forceful and are good to notice for just that reason. Here are a few photos taken from roughly the same location over  the last week or so. Variation, indeed.

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