Peach Pancakes

Oh no, summer is not over yet. I've been waiting, only somewhat patiently, for the local peaches to ripen and that time is finally here. My mom used to make peach pancakes when I was growing up and the taste takes me right back to childhood summers. We are visiting my mother and my sister's family in Idaho for Labor Day Weekend. This has become an annual road trip over the past several years and this year is extra special because it is the first time we are meeting my new niece Evelyn

First thing on our first morning, Mary Ellen made peach pancakes for us, which we ate slathered with butter and sprinkled with sugar in her lovely and shady backyard. These taste even more delicious when you have a sweet baby on your lap making little newborn mewings and sighs.

Our husbands then took themselves off on their own adventures for the weekend, so my mother, sister and I are having rare girl time to play with the kids, go to the farmer's market, attend a pig roast, play three-handed cribbage and just laugh and chat.

Yesterday we picked up another flat of perfectly ripe peaches from Tonnemaker's Farm at the Moscow Farmer's Market in order to make more peach pancakes. I love this small town market where we run into my sister's friends, play at the playground, dance to the band and stroll with the community.

We had more peach pancakes this morning and I daresay we will be having them the next two mornings also. Here is the recipe my sister uses and my mother approves. Note: You may want to double or triple the recipe. Trust me.

Peach Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 T. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1/4 t salt
3 T. coconut oil

Mix all ingredients together and add fresh diced peaches to the batter.

Another fun recipe that I want to try is the mini peach pies from my cousin Jessica's blog, although I may be too lazy this weekend.

And because he captures the joy of biting into a fresh peach so well, I give you poet Li-Young Lee on peaches:

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward   
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into   
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

~ Li-Young Lee


A New Family Heirloom

When I was a kid, I used to gaze in awe and envy at the art hanging in my best friend Anne's home. Her grandmother painted three beautiful life-size portraits of Anne and her two brothers as young children, maybe age 4 or 5. The paintings seemed so romantic and old-fashioned and very, very special. They made Anne and her brothers seem extra important and adored. I wanted someone to paint me. Looking back, I guess that was the spark that fanned my love of great portraiture and I've always been drawn to the work of John Singer Sargent, Edouard Manet, Thomas Gainsborough and Ingres. I love to imagine the inner thoughts of their subjects, now-long-gone, looking straight back at me from their frames. If I had lived one hundred years ago and had loads of money, I would have sat for a portrait at eighteen or before my wedding or with my family and hung the portrait over our grand fireplace. This is the same part of me that as a bookish and romantic child wanted to have a coming out ball, go away to boarding school and summer on the French Riviera - none of these normal things for a girl growing up in South Dakota.

But now that I am an adult with my own son, I can have his portrait painted. I've been looking for someone to capture his spirit in a style I like. I found that someone in the Ukraine thanks to Etsy and her name is Inna, aka Miss Black Eyes. In this day and age of digital photography, it is easy to send a jpeg file half-way around the world to a talented artist who can take her time to paint an energetic 2-year-old who would never be still enough for an actual sitting. 

Thank you, Inna, for turning this photograph of my son...

...into this beautiful oil portrait!

I can't wait to have Inna paint a portrait of my daughter, due to join our family in October, to hang next to this in two years time. These will be our new family heirlooms.


Like A Definition Of Love

We have arrived home in Seattle and it is hot here. Well, relatively hot. Hot for the Pacific Northwest. Windows are thrown open, we don't turn on lights and we can barely sleep with sheets on. No one in this part of the world has air-conditioning and we only need fans maybe this one week of the year. It doesn't help to be 31 weeks pregnant. I'm feeling nostalgic for the white house with green shutters where I grew up, which had a wrap-around upstairs sun porch off my parents' room. We'd ro-sham-bo to sleep in the canopy bed out there in the summers. Soft breezes would rustle the leaves on the trees, drift through the big screen windows and lull you to sleep. Even better was sleeping out there during a big old midwestern summer thunder storm (I miss those too). Ruth Stone's poem below taps into that childhood memory and melds with the everything-is-right-in-the-world-feeling I have now when my sleeping son is curled up against me. Isn't it amazing how another person's poem, someone else's very specific experience, can hurl you beautifully back into your own life? 

Green Apples

In August we carried the old horsehair mattress
to the back porch
and slept with our children in a row.
The wind came up the mountain into the orchard
telling me something:
saying something urgent.
I was happy.
The green apples fell on the sloping roof
and rattled down.
The wind was shaking me all night long,
shaking me in my sleep
like a definition of love,
saying, this is the moment,
here, now.

~ Ruth Stone


All the World Can Hold Quite Still

This has possibly been my best-ever summer. I'm quite sure Xavier would say the same. We've been on a six-week island-hopping holiday in the Salish Sea with many friends and family joining us throughout. Beach-combing, tide-pooling, crabbing, canoeing, swimming, picking raspberries, throwing rocks, hiking, biking, and drawing train tracks in the sand have all been daily activities. Xavier has been having a ball chasing after his older cousins and friends. All the playing, fresh sea air and sunshine has been exhilarating and exhausting too, but every day we take quiet time for naps in the hammock, beach walks at low tide and sitting on Nan's Bench watching for whales.

And each day, I try to pause at some point to take a deep breathe and hold quite still. The above illustration is from one of Xavier's (and my) favorite summer books, All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon.

We are wrapping up our time on Gabriola Island, one of the Gulf Islands off Vancouver. This is a special place for us as we've been coming here for six of the past eight summers.  Christian flew with me here on a sea plane for our third date (he was clearly trying to impress me and it definitely worked). We came here to honeymoon after our summer wedding with my two brothers and their families. It was here that we found out we were pregnant the first time, with the baby we lost before Xavier.  Christian's entire family has gathered here two summers, with plans to for more reunions. All this thanks to our great friends Dave and Susan from Vancouver, who share their beach house with us.  The cottage itself, called Gabreeden, is a charming and rustic cabin with an outhouse, no dishwasher or laundry, but it has a wood stove for cool evenings, two kayaks, crab pots and a million dollar view. The following photo was taken by Dave this past weekend of me, Xavier and their four-year-old son James, a beautiful reminder to hold quite still.