california life sweets

Lately

5 May 2009

Nearly three years ago this June I dragged myself up before 6am and went for a run. It was foggy and damp but not cold — warm enough to swim, almost. As we went along we ran and walked a bit, too, and talked and looked down to see the sand littered with sand dollars: whole, perfect, so many you could never gather them all up. I took a few home with me and they are perched on a little shelf in my hallway, as a reminder and because they are still so beautiful.

Thinking back I sometimes wonder if that was some sort of omen. I have never seen so many before or since, so untouched and unbroken and scattered as far across the beach. Perhaps it was because we were there so early — I do not know the tidal rhythms and what they throw up — but I like to think that it was a portent of goodness, a gift from California to tell me welcome home at last. This is where you belong.

So here I still am: nothing really has changed but everything is different. It has been raining and humid — in May! in Northern California! — and the season has stolen softly into the city in swathes of green and new foliage. The sand dollars, I wonder, might still be there on a late-spring morning when I’ll eat a banana for sustenance on the winding drive up to the beach. I’ll be given the shower first, the coffee will taste better than any coffee I’ve ever had before, and I’ll come home chilly and sleepy and wishing for sun.

Things that are unknown and known at the same time.

Lately spring is

– The last freesias of the season at the market, costing me only $4 and which lasted an entire week. I smelled them every time I walked in the door, smacked straight in the face with their perfume which I swear if flowers could sing these would be a preening soprano who bursts into an aria at every opportunity.

– Rain, but not a cold rain; instead, the kind that falls down misty and soft and when you’re tucked up in bed for the night, book in hand, is the sweetest sound you could ever hope to hear.

– Lots of wonderful coffee, my little daily pleasure

– Not too much baking, though there have been some vegan ginger snaps, brownies, and this weekend, being le jour to celebrate les meres, no doubt will involve a bit of it

– A fantastic article touting the health benefits (and deliciousness) of avocados

– Vegetables, lots, every day, both raw and cooked

– Also lots of strawberries-with-yogurt-and-honey

– Making summer plans, although for once I’m not yet wishing for it, am in fact glad it’s still another full month away and the light will stretch out longer every day until then. I want time to slow down because I know it will speed up again soon enough and I want to savor every little bit of it as much as I can.

Oh lately, and in particular, I’ve been savoring an old favorite — just strawberries cut up small and fine, stirred into thick Greek yogurt (Fage Total, 0%), and then topped with a smear of honey — am in swoony, spring-like love with it really. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I’m eating it post-run, gobbled down quickly in anxious hunger; I’ve been enjoying it first thing in the morning, with a cup of tea; I’m drizzling just a bit more honey over the top for an evening dessert.

This is something that’s perfect for spring — sweet, bittersweet, and punchy from the yogurt all at once — and full of the possibility of the season. It tastes of things growing and quiet rain and perhaps, if one manages to get up early enough for a ramble along the beach in light wind and fog, unexpected treasure.

When summer comes I’ll eat my yogurt with stone fruit (nectarines especially) instead of strawberries, maybe with some fresh mint crumbled on top, in an attempt to get time to slow down a bit then, too.

It’s the very littlest of the little things — a bowl of creamy yogurt that catapults me back to Florina in Northern Greece and the way the vegetable seller came ’round every afternoon despite the heat; the way the rain feels when it mists down on your hair and you shake it out of your eyes around the turn during your run; the way the ocean stays cold here no matter what month of the year it may be; reading on the couch through the gloom for three hours; flowers, bright and sweet — that make everything worth it. Hold on.

  • jessie schlosberg 7 May 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Seriously, I cannot wait to take you to the markets here in London… you will never want to leave!!! we are going to have the best time ever! I can’t wait for you to get here!!!

    Love you!

  • lillie 7 May 2009 at 10:48 am

    mmm, i absolutely love greek yogurt + strawberries. [swoon] and i am floating from the feeling of this post. lovely thoughts and words.

  • jen jafarzadeh 7 May 2009 at 7:40 am

    I’m a big Fage fan. I personally think it’s the best yogurt (wish it weren’t so expensive.)Lovely photos!

  • EB 7 May 2009 at 7:23 am

    Um no joke… strawberries, greek yogurt and honey is my favorite, absolute go-to spring/summer breakfast! It feels so decadent and naughty somehow.

    I really, really love your description of the beach by the way.

  • Liz 6 May 2009 at 11:26 am

    Lovely post! I eat Fage + straw/blue/blackberries + honey for breakfast quite often as well! So delicious.
    Here, in the coastal South, along with strawberry season it is also jasmine season. During any given breeze you are practically knocked over by the scent of Jasmine, which tumbles over walls and trellises in thick, knotty strands of mostly white but sometimes yellow flowers.

  • justrun 5 May 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Ah, that was lovely. Spring is so fleeting here– we go from cold to boiling in a week. It’s worth holding on, though, if even for just that little bit.