Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cappuccino Dunes

We run along cappuccino dunes, steam rising from their foamed milk tops. The wind blows the sand in cinnamon swirls. It's appetizing. It makes me crave the whistle of the tea kettle back home. I can almost feel the hot mug in my hands, feel the coffee slide down my throat and into my stomach, smell it on my breathe as I puff, puff, puff in this frigid air.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gas Station Chronicles

Who knew you could find an entire life in gas station merchandise? (*Note that "you" is ambiguous in the story.) 

"I love how gas stations arrange their merchandise," my friend Lee said. "In just one aisle you can find cards, condoms and painkillers."

I laughed. "It kind of tells a story. You spark some magic with the cards. That's why you need the condoms."

"Then your girlfriend breaks up with you. That's why you need the painkillers," my friend Ella chimed in.

"And here you have birthday candles. That's what you get for buying shitty gas station condoms," Lee said.

We turned down the next aisle: pet food. I held up a bag of Kibbles & Bits and Meow Mix. "Now that you have the kid, the next step is the pet."

"Or maybe you can no longer afford real food," Ella proposed.

I sighed. "So now your life is really going downhill. Looks like you better stock up on trash bags. You're homeless."

"BUT then you get a job as a mechanic," she said, holding up a bottle of WD-40.

"Phew. So now your life is turning back around."

"And that brings us to the snack aisle," Lee said. "Just in time to host a football game with your friends."

Too bad the Patriots lost to the Broncos.

Next time you're bored, stop by a gas station. Just a tip: Cumberland Farms sells any size beverage for just 99¢, 24/7. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Defying Winter

The winter is one of my favorite times to visit the Cape. Especially in our neighborhood, which is filled with lots of seasonal families, the roads are so quiet. Driving down the roads at 5pm, there is only the rare front porch light illuminating the street. I think that is why the stars are best in the winter.

People ask what we do when we're at the Cape, and the truth is, we do what we do during the summer. We swim, we run, we cook, my mom and I consignment shop, just with some slight adjustments.

Yesterday and today, we defied the cold front and continued on with our summer routine. Mom and I tried shopping for costume pieces for my winter musical, In the Heights. Unfortunately, the musical takes place in July in New York City, and as much as I love sweaters, that is the last thing anyone would want to wear in July. We came away with a bra, appropriate for any season. 

We cooked from our new summer cook book, "The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cook Book." 

Last night we cooked seared tuna on a watercress salad. We didn't intend on having a theme, but somehow everything on this dinner plate ended up being Asian. The soup had a ginger thai broth. The tuna was seared with sesame seeds and Trader Joe's Sesame Asian dressing. The rice was Asian rice. We got it because it was colorful when it was didn't cook up quite as colorful. 

For breakfast this morning, we made Eggs Over Grass--a  clever name for an eggs benedict dish. My brother Owen's friend Hayden was kind enough to let me photograph his plate, even though they had been waiting for breakfast for about an hour and a half. I will definitely plan out the order in which I prepare this dish next time.

(Do you know they actually pay people to take photographs of food? Maybe if my theatre career doesn't work out...)

  I had never made or tasted eggs benedict before. I also had never poached an egg. You just boil water in a pot, crack the egg in the water, add about an 1/8 of a teaspoon of white vinegar per egg (you can poach multiple eggs at once), reduce heat and let the egg simmer for 3-5 minutes (depending on how runny you like your yolk).

The hollandaise sauce was good too. That was also pretty easy to make. 

And finally, for dinner tonight, a salad topped with basically everything we had leftover in the fridge: kale, watercress, scallions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, tuna, grated cheese, asparagus and Sesame Asian dressing. Artificial lighting just doesn't do the food justice on my amateur phone camera. 

Our final winter defiance of the day was our New Year's plunge into the ocean. It was great to see people walking the beach as we ran to warm ourselves up before the plunge. Sometimes I feel like people forget the beach is open. They were a great audience as we stripped down to our bathing suits and dove into the waves. Some took pictures and some clapped. We ran back to our car with a quivering, "Happy New Year!" 

Yesterday we breathed in the new year. Today, we dove right in. 

Breathing in the New Year

29 minutes into the new year, and I have already heard the ocean, ran the sands, and breathed the salty air. After toasting with sparkling pomegranate juice in wine glasses, my family piled into the car--my mom and I still wearing our big comfy sweaters and fuzzy socks--for a midnight run on the beach. Sometimes there are others we find parked in the parking lot of Nauset Beach, but tonight it was just us. We felt our way along the path to the sand, our eyes adjusting just in time for us to dodge around the wooden benches and poles. There was no moon tonight, but the stars were bright and promising. 

The sand was iced with snow. It crunched beneath our feet as we ran. I love the cold because it makes me feel like I'm running fast. My stride length was nothing to brag about, but it sure felt like my legs were turning over quickly. I will choose to believe that they were.

I could have run forever like that, beneath the stars with the ocean cheering me on, the cool sea breeze blowing in my face. The whole time I ran with my neck craned up and swiveling like the lighthouse light that passed over us every minute. I think the feeling can be summed up in Mary Oliver's poem, "The Storm." 

The Storm
By Mary Oliver

Now through the white orchard my little dog
     romps, breaking the new snow
     with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
     hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
     in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
     the pleasures of the body in the world.

Oh, I could not have said it better 

Out there by the ocean, with no one around, it is impossible not to want to leap and spin and throw your arms out like an airplane and pretend to fly. In fact, it almost feels like you can. 

To fully welcome 2014, we did twenty jumping jacks and a fourteen second sprint. We returned to the car with our rosy cheeks and foggy glasses, our hearts beating, our minds clear, and our spirits invigorated. 

Happy New Year, everyone!