cherry blossoms

February 29

I love that today is a leap day- it seems like a special pocket of time.

Outside, the cheery trills of robins are balancing the soft dreariness of grey sky on the verge of rain. This afternoon, the sun shone and lit the pink cherry blossom and warmed the rug. In the morning, as on all mornings here, sea gulls dotted the field like sheep.

This past week there were some glorious spring storms, erratic wind/rain/sun and all colours in the sky. I dug out my paints. I finally bought an umbrella. Days were segmented by cappucinos, africanos, earl grey and herbal teas. Our rabbits are molting winter down. The daffodils are nodding bright heads.

I hurt my back by lifting a bin incorrectly and have spent the past few days feeling like a century has been tacked on to my years. It's easing up now and I am so glad. (That icy-hot stuff is so weird!) How easy it is to take health for granted.

I'm including the recipe for what I wish I was making right now. I like to make and freeze a batch of these cookies to have on hand - a gift to our future selves.

Chocolate Apricot Pecan Cookies Adapted from Leslie Mackie's Macrina Cookbook. The original recipe does not call for pecans, so feel free to leave them out. 

In a medium large bowl, stir together with a whisk then set aside: 1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour 1 c all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp finely ground espresso beans

In a medium small bowl or in a KitchenAid mixer, cream until light and fluffy: 1 c butter, softened 1 c good raw/brown sugar such as panela-rapadura

Add eggs to creamed butter and sugar one at a time, mixing well, adding vanilla with second egg: 2 eggs, room temperature 2 tsp vanilla

Add dry ingredients and stir to mix until flour is just incorporated. Then stir in: 3/4 cup dried unsulphured apricots, chopped 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and cooled, roughly crushed by hand 8-9 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Let dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour before scooping and baking cookies. Or scoop then freeze dough to later thaw and bake whenever you need a few cookies! Makes about 16 cookies. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. 

out of the shade

This afternoon, still somewhat dazed from not enough sleep and stepping out of the shade-dark bakery and yesterday's grey drizzle into a dazzling blue-skied sunny spring day, I lingered in the street for a moment before starting the car. A moment was long enough to watch a miniature tornado of white-pink cherry petals spin down the street like an invisible whirling dervish delighting in the wayward blossoms. I start as a counter girl at -my favorite- our local bakery this week. I don't remember ever being so excited about a job before. It feels right.

I feel tonight's dinner deserves a mention: local happy eggs fried in organic butter, salt and pepper, a perfectly ripe avocado sliced haphazardly, a slosh of lemon juice, sprinkling of hemp hearts, generous grating of grana padano and handful of spring greens. Last night the man made pancakes with carob, cinnamon, ginger and raisins.

Today's porch-rail observations/ramblings: There's a crow in the closest spruce tree making rattle-croaks, like a glossy black wind-up clock counting up its own enjoyment. Soft wingbeats to my side announced a bird passing by, hedgebound. I turned to look and saw cherry petals glitter like snowflakes in the chiaroscuro edge of the shadow of a house. The clouds are a mottling, almost mackerel sky but too puffed and sprawling. Cirrocumulus castellanos, perhaps. The narcissus nod, thin green stems bending as six-petalled white stars and orange crowns bob. A moth that looks like it unfolded itself out of narcissus petals drags across the sky above the low garden.

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Of course the clouds were doing something different by the time I photographed them. Michette loves the sunshine.

no less spectacular

Driving up the cherry-blossom tree-lined street in the misting night, somehow the first word that came to mind was "galactic". The splendor of the soft rosy poufs against the hazy indigo sky was breathtaking. The view the next morning was no less spectacular. The road has become a tunnel in frothy clouds of pale pink flowers, their perfume coaxing past my cold to remind me that it's spring. Friends came for dinner, which was lovely. J cooked, because he is lovely, but somehow I still felt ill-prepared. Maybe because normally I'm bustling around the kitchen, and physically completing tasks is reassuring. I made what I thought for sure was a failed custard, a clafoutis with frozen raspberries and cranberries which was a soupy mess in the oven long after it was supposed to be cooling on the counter. It redeemed itself at the last minute by firming up and tasting wonderful. Frozen fruit was almost certainly the problem but I would totally do it again, and probably will tomorrow. You see, not a scrap remains.

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the quiet passage of time

Over the past couple days, I have done almost nothing. In a way, that's a huge relief. I've just been lazing around the house, mostly in bed or at the kitchen table with my feet tucked up on the heater. I've been reading this, and looking for DIY wedding ideas here. My cold/flu is waning and I am gradually feeling stronger. I braved the mild spring air for a brief walk to our local bakery for milk (being home sick without milk for coffee was too dreadful a prospect), and somehow while I was lying with my eyes closed in the grey half-light of a room with curtains closed in the afternoon, with the cries of gulls punctuating the quiet passage of time, the next stages of spring were unfurling outside. I walked outside into a street full of cherry blossoms. At the bakery, it seemed silly to just buy milk so I bought sourdough spelt sandwich bread too, which is delicious. The excellence of our neighborhood's  wood-fired, sourdough, local-grain-using bakery has resulted in my own little sourdough culture languishing in the fridge. I feel guilty thinking about when I last fed it, or longer ago still, baked with it.

While I've been writing this from my customary blanket on the floor with the rabbits roaming around, one set of headphones were the sad casualty of one rabbit (Zephyr, of course) being left with our computers while we intervened with and separated a catnip-ed out cat (Michette - who had until this point been on her best behavior) and a naive and curious rabbit (Seven, naturally). Now, J and I are going to practice dancing- a kind and patient friend is teaching us and we are hoping to show improvement at our next dinner and lesson together.

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