It's Sunday night. The weather has been stubborn all day, as angsty as a frustrated teenager. I woke up to dark gray skies. The trees lining our street bent and shivered in the heavy gusts of winds coming off the bay. The rain thudded against the windows. When I padded downstairs in slippers and pajamas, the kitchen skylight was being pelted with water: a persistent tap-tap-tap of heavy raindrops.
You were building your bike, greasy-fingered and intent on the task at hand, wrenches and small, complicated-looking bits of metal strewn about the slate floor. I yawned deeply, thinking of the soft bed upstairs. The cotton comforter, warm still from the heat of my body, the pillow nestled against the headboard. Outside the foreboding sky warned of more storms.
"GET IT GIRL," I shouted at myself. Just kidding! Instead, I did what I always do upon waking up and feeling lethargic: I visualized myself coming home from a long, hard run. I thought about how nice a shower would feel--hot water sluicing down my skin--and getting dressed in clean clothes. Brushing my wet hair. Looking at my flushed cheeks in the mirror, feeling strong and physically tired in the best way, and ready to embrace a calm, quiet Sunday.
Reader, I took the run. (Insert laugh-crying emoji.)
The first mile is complicated. My legs are heavy and my mind refuses to wander. After a mile, something clicks into place, and I can just cruise. I turn left onto the main road where the shoulder is widest. I jog past the gas station. Past Alberston Marine Goods. Past the North Fork Tourism kiosk, to where the road narrows and winds through a low-lying swamp. I pass St. Peter’s church and its sign, which varies weekly based on some small-fry clergy clerk with a sense of humor. Today it reads: "If your cup runneth over, place it on someone else's saucer."
My legs seem to move of their own accord. I try not to think about how far I have to go. Once I hit the turn-around, everything changes. Now every step is a step closer to home.
The wind whips against my face. The rain has stopped, but the breeze shakes water off the trees and my cotton t-shirt is soaked through. I feel epic (I know this is in my head!), and I take the right-hand turn on Sixth Street to jog down to the town beach and add another half mile to my run.
I sprint the last four blocks into the center of town, then stop in front of the bookstore. My chest heaves, and I lean down to stretch my legs before walking into the coffee shop. I order an iced coffee with a heavy splash of almond milk (thick and sweet), and apologetically proffer my sweaty credit card, which I've stashed in the pocket of my now-wet shorts.
At home, I shower. I am just as glad for taking the run as I knew I'd be. Yesterday my morning run was hot and muggy, and I finished up at the dock at the dead-end roundabout of our little street. Yesterday I was sweaty enough to strip down to my undies and sports bra (sorry, neighbors) and jump into the cold water, climbing up the ladder and walking home dripping wet.
Today I relish the hot shower, and I put on a soft sweatshirt (this one, which my sister and I love so much that she just ordered another in case they ever stop making them) and jeans.
We drive to the meat farm in the next town over. I've eaten lunch already, but I've got two hungry men in tow who haven’t, so our first stop is the food truck behind the farm for food. They share a cup of tomato soup with a side of za'atar-spiced pita, toasted and covered in melted mozzarella, and a pulled pork sandwich.
Inside the farm shop, we pile our arms full of plum tomatoes, green bell peppers, and meat: pork sausage stuffed with green chard and garlic and lamb kofte.
The day slips away quickly. I take the ferry over to Shelter Island with my bike, spending the golden hour between 5 and 6 PM at a beautiful sandy beach, watching the sailboats pass. I race back to catch the ferry home. When I pull into the yard on my bike, sweaty and exhausted and hungry, you're standing at the grill, turning over the sausages. They’re lined up over the flames with the last carrots from our garden and the bell peppers from the farm.
We toss it all into a big bowl, along with a head of grilled romaine lettuce. I drizzle on olive oil and add a spoonful of grainy mustard. I shower, throw on pajamas and thick cotton socks, and serve us big bowls of grilled salad and sausage. Over the top, I spoon some mushroom bolognese, jarred from a local restaurant, that I've heated quickly on the stove.
We both have a glass of wine. It's cool inside, and there's a new season of Transparent (from Amazon, watch it!) to start. I'm deeply content, and I think how delicious this feels. To let myself revel in simple things. To be happy. To dig into a softened pint of caramel chocolate chunk ice cream for dessert, and a frozen blondie (tweaked from the Cook's Illustrated original, via a wonderful old colleague from Food52 who added more than the recommended amount of vanilla thanks to the wisdom of her mother). To rest my head on your shoulder, and think that sometimes, life offers exactly what you ask of it.
Cook's Illustrated Blondies, My Way
Adapted from Food52
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted pecans
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or an additional 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
3 ounces white chocolate chips
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350° F. S
Grease a 9" x 13" pan, and line with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together in a separate bowl.
Add the eggs and vanilla (extract and paste) and mix well. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Add the chocolate and the nuts, then pour into your pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is crackly and shiny. Don't overbake! Gooey is better and these are so good when frozen if you underbake them slightly.
Let cool fully, then slice and eat. As I said, these freeze beautifully!