Up Past Bedtime

A-hoy-yy! So many tidbits & salutations to be offered: happy almost-weekend! Happy belated birthday to my mom, the rockingest lady around! Happy SUMMER! Solstices are rad, even for those among us who appreciate them strictly on a physical (and not ideological) level. I’m talking about increased daylight, people, the thrill of evening extending beyond its prestated limits, eating away at the night. Incidentally, if I had to choose one or the other — night or day — I’d choose night. The trees are much more striking then, laced in shadow as they are. At night, I have my best ideas.*

These days, my summer traditions are few. I owe this to two factors: my nostalgia’s slow fade and the Bay Area’s dearth of True Summer Weather. I do love living in a seasonless zone; time passes differently here, and I welcome the chance to wear sweaters year-round.

At the same time, I miss the constants of Midwest summer: electrical storms, humidity, calamine-dotted mosquito bites. Aloe vera sticky on your shoulders and thighs; ice cream eaten in an air-conditioned backseat. These joys of my youth embody the season, and I do mean embody: memories of Augusts past give me pause, cause my gut to sink in the best possible way. Without these joys, summer veritably ceases to exist.

It does exist, though, and I’m developing new traditions. Among these is my ceremonial preparation/enjoyment of the caprese salad. When spring loosens into summer, I develop a taste for fresh basil.  Never mind that the climate doesn’t sync with the calendar; this craving is rooted deep. Tomato season rolls around, and suddenly all I want to eat is tomatoes: sliced and dashed with salt; wedged in a hella greasy grilled cheese; chopped, tossed with balsamic and oil, and added to a pretty little bed of romaine.

My favorite preparation is the caprese salad. Bright and fresh, a snap to prepare, the caprese is a great pretender, assuming an air of elegance that belies its humble origins.

On a warm day last week, I made this salad. I purchased one large tomato, tiny balls of fresh mozzarella, and a basil plant. The plant, now somewhat withered, sits on the back patio, but the day I brought it home it was vibrant and half the size of a rosebush. I take my time constructing these salads, slicing the tomato into even rounds, placing the basil leaves just so. With the salad featured here, I had a Glenlivet and soda. I listened to the Talking Heads as I put away the dishes. Then, changing into shorts, I laid out in the backyard with a book and a Pellegrino and conjured some Midwest memories.

***

* I almost spun off into a nostalgiathon about My Walks Through The Galesburg Industrial Park, but I stanched the desire. You’re welcome.

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