29 August, 2007

full moon magic

Oh my. I just went downstairs to revel in the quiet peace of the house tonight, the rest of my family asleep, thinking happily about our dinner party here this evening with our farmer friends up the road (more on that tomorrow), wondering if I could ever make a blueberry pie like Judy's, and checking on the candles I moved from the picnic table to the front windows to keep David across the road happy in the late evening. But guess what I saw? The whole front of Stillmeadow, the ancient white saltbox house across the road, was completely lit up. Glowing from top to bottom. For a moment I was afraid! What on earth?

Then I realized it was the light of the full moon high above our back meadow, lighting up the house as if by a streetlight, only an eerie, glowing feeling. I wanted to go out to explore, but my city-girl nature (what happened to those formative years in Indiana? sorry, Mother and Dad!) almost kept me from it. But to see the full moon! I had to try.

I crept out onto the stone path I so laboriously weeded this summer (must find an eco-friendly way to prevent encountering those same weeds next July). What if there were toads on them like the ones we had on our terrace during dinner? I didn't want to squash one under my bare feet! Or a snake, as visited Avery's birthday party long ago, in the leaves beside the stone wall? Anyway, I got my courage together and ventured out. The trees here are so massive and so old that you are alternately grateful for their elderly and gentle shade, and definitely afraid lest their branches land on your house in a storm.

Tonight they were black before the glow of the moon. No faraway, romantic light this: no, this was an assertive, glittering, in-your-face shimmer, seemingly right THERE. I looked over again at the house across the road, illuminated quite sharply but with a funny, selective light that didn't seem to touch the shrubs and trees nearby. Just the white clapboards. And since I've been spending all my summer reading time lately with the memoirs and cookbooks of Gladys Taber, the most beloved of all the house's inhabitants, I felt in an odd way that she was here. Was she happy I was thumbing tonight through her My Own Cookbook (the crazy large-print edition that Anne, her granddaughter and my dear friend, had to loan me!)? Was she glad to see farmers and their children sitting at the table of the house across the road tonight, being fed as she fed countless farmer friends, exchanging recipes and gossip, laughing at each other's stories as we do? Will she be pleased with the recipes I choose to reproduce when I edit her cookbook, and will she give me a helping hand when I try to describe her and her life and ways, and our place here in her world? I hope so.

Today was so peaceful. Well, first it was hot and sweaty while we played tennis. I love it! I think I've turned a corner. I can actually hit a serious forehand without fearing I'll miss it altogether. OK, sometimes I miss it. But there are more and more times that the ball seems to just get hit! Which is a lot of fun. But from there we had a wonderfully relaxed afternoon, starting with the perfect lunch for leftover roast pork:

Cuban Sandwiches

sliced roast pork
sliced dill pickles (go on, buy the already-sliced ones: it's vacation!)
yellow mustard
Swiss or horseradish cheese
sliced sturdy bread
butter for spreading

Butter the outsides of two of the slices of bread and pile all the ingredients on. Place on a heated panini grill or hot skillet. Butter the second slice of bread and cover. Grill until hot and browned. Simply PERFECT.


My friend Alyssa will laugh: this sandwich was inspired by one you can get at the I.P.N Deli on Greenwich Street in my old 'hood of Tribeca in my now-long ago and misspent early middle age. It was and is the last holdout of non-chicdom in that fabled area of Lower Manhattan. It is peopled exclusively by residents of the rent-controlled council housing of Independence Plaza and the nearby construction workers whose numbers are overwhelming these days. And nannies. But for me, it was the place for a decadent, wicked sandwich on a day when I was headed for a non-remunerative and probably dull afternoon in our sweet little neighborhood park, Washington Market, playing with my child. Now, little did I know the days of playing in the park would be so FLEETING. I am ashamed now of how I let myself feel bored, now that I have a world-weary almost 11-year-old who needs me for so little! And we're never bored. Mothers of small children take heart: the boredom is such a short-lived, sweet little gift. Not that it seems like it when you're stuck in the park.

But my Cuban Sandwich would have been a nice improvement on the deli's version. For one thing, Tony's roast pork is a revelation, and who knows what they were grilling the deli version on or in.

After lunch I indulged myself with "General Hospital" while undercheffing dinner. How I will miss my American soaps when we return to London on Saturday! Avery took a long cozy bath in the guest bathroom adjacent to the terrace and every so often one of us called to her through the screen in the window: "you still in there?" John tried (one knows not yet how successfully) to stem the population of yellow jackets in our vicinity, with a set of traps and some spray. All I can say is, nobody with wings visited our dinner party tonight.

Well, more on that tomorrow. Drumroll, though, please: this is POST NUMBER 300 of my blog! Happy birthday, or whatever... it's been a lot of fun.

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