Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September, Soccer, School and La Medusa

Until our children started school, I adored September (and for reference, I don't hate it now... but my feelings are considerably more mixed). It felt like a sun-filled gift to play hooky from work or take a little vacation somewhere. Beaches emptied themselves of loud school-aged children and somehow, the warm sun and quieter streets created an almost soporific feel, in a good, cat napping in the sun sort of way. The color of sunlight alters just that fraction to make you aware that it isn't going to last. All the produce from summer is still in season, in its final, glorious throes (although many plants are starting to look a bit worn around the edges). The twilight changes from that fine, clear dimly lit sapphire of high summer to a muddled amethyst. Everyone with kids mysteriously vanishes. However. That was then. I am now one of those people with kids who vanish. And now I know what happens to them.
School started last week. The kids brought home their stacks of forms for us to fill out, which we’ve been dutifully slogging through. Curly comes with extra forms due to her body's contentious relationship with nuts. Soccer began for both kids, which meant that I, as the coach for Curly's team, pretended to know what I was doing. Our Saturdays until November? Toast. You'd think that somehow, both kids at school would mean that I would have a lot of time on my hands. Maybe as things settle down, that will be true, but right now? Not so much.

My boy had his 8th birthday, and, as our family tradition has gone so far, (with the cook’s approval of menu rationality) he got to choose the dinner menu. He chose a cheese plate for appetizers (with 3 different kinds of goat cheese and what amounted to a brie variation), and then dolled-up beef teriyaki on short grain rice for dinner. Actually, first he chose cheese, plain bruschetta and fried potatoes (and I said... try again). At his request, dessert was chocolate cake. We ordered from Bakery Nouveau, and were not disappointed (although, note to self and any others with nut allergies: make sure to inform them of nut allergies in the family, so that the decorative macaroon on top isn’t pistachio. They don’t seem to get that information through ESP messages). It was simple, it was reasonably kid-friendly (I noticed that our identical triplet nieces pretty much skipped the meat and ate the rice, but since they were some worn-out but well-behaved 4-year-old girls and were actually eating something, it seemed obnoxious to try and coax them to try more), and my boy was pleased as could be. I didn’t take any pictures- we had 13 people at the table, and I returned right before dinner (which I then made in a hurry, with some serious assistance from my parents and husband) from a bridal shower for a friend who is moving to the east coast this week. I had found some absolutely hilarious pasties (as opposed to serious ones) guaranteed to make anyone blush. Cowgirl-themed pasties with tassels? Uh, hilarious. Although, if you think about it, probably not very comfortable. I think that would be safe to say of anything that involves adhesives on the nipples.

The night before my boy's birthday we went to La Medusa, to the great joy of all parties involved (which would be the kids, the husband, myself and my parents). Arancini and salt cod fritters were enjoyed with abandon, and in general, food that came to the table was demolished. They served an interesting (in a good way) watermelon salad with culatello that was a nice variation on the standard cantelope and prosciutto. I resisted my favorite, pasta with sardines (it's a little odd that it's my favorite, because although there have been notable exceptions, usually, if there are sardines involved, I will assiduously avoid it), and got the tuna meatballs with pasta, which was delicious, but... next time I'll probably get pasta con le sarde again. I love their pasta con le sarde.

My tomato plants look like they've caught a terrible disease, as the photograph above suggests. Some of that is due to the mild summer, some of it is due to the onset of fall, and a fair amount is due to the fact that I only start to look after plants when they look like they might die at any moment. However, the tomatoes are fantastic, and prolific. The yellow pear cherry tomatoes pictured are the first of the summer, and I put the plants in all at the same time. The bloody things have literally taken a month to ripen, but they are pretty in an almost jewel-like way, and much better tasting than yellow pear tomatoes from the store. I have quite a bit of yardwork to do, although I suspect I'll need to water everything heavily first, because the soil throughout my yard is nearly as hard as concrete.

I still think September is lovely. The physical beauty of it, even as I'm crossly filling out forms, is undeniable, and impossible not to enjoy. But it has also, as the children go off to school, become a marker for how little time I really get to have my boy and Curly. I feel an almost physical sense of heartbreak, of a cracking in my chest as I watch them go away from me. I look at their scraped elbows and crooked teeth, huge eyes and gleaming hair and... I want to stop time. I know. Pooooor me. I suffer so.

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