Last summer, summer 2011, was the summer of wedding planning (also known as The Pit). I spent all my free time hunkered down in there, absorbed in the constant tasks of ceremony details, caterers, jazz bands, invitations, favors, showers, guest lists, seating charts, expectations, and I’ll be honest with you: sometimes it got a little dark. Thankfully, Tim was with me. Having the two of us together made The Pit more cozy.
The only problem with hunkering down for a summer, however, is that you miss a lot of things. It has to happen, but you do. While we were making regular trips back and forth from Chicago, the rest of the world continued on, the way it always does. While our weekends were spreadsheets of to-do lists and hours picking towels and bed sheets at Target, I tuned out of blogs and stopped reading or writing or paying attention to, well, anything that couldn’t get into The Pit with us. Sometimes my family got in there. Sometimes, our friends. But everything else didn’t fit, and so I let it go.
For the most part, that was OK. Simplifying, even. But then a few weeks ago, I was washing dishes in our kitchen, looking out the window, and I noticed how big and tall and purple our neighbor’s tree had gotten. In an instant, my eyes moved across the street to another one, hot pink like a Spring Break bikini. We drove to the grocery store, past that vintage brick apartment complex we always see, and an entire row of trees bordering the road had exploded into whites and reds and violet and deep maroon. It was then that I realized just how deep we’d been buried, together with our heads down, moving through that tunnel in the dark.
Last summer, I don’t remember a flower. This year, giant blooming trees are EVERYWHERE.
So if there’s one thing I’ve wanted for summer 2012, it’s to stay above ground. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been here so often. When I look back on this year, I’ll remember making risotto with my brother, enduring weeks of three-digit-temperature days, sitting inside while the sky got dark with clouds and rain and thunderstorms.
I’ll remember walking through neighborhoods with Tim to see the world in bloom, camera around my neck, marveling at the different colors and the intricate petals and the way they look against the early evening sky.
I’ll remember telling myself to take the time to notice, really look at and observe, the life I’m living: the mornings Tim and I shuffle to the dining table, laptops in hand; the afternoons walking down the driveway, feeling the heat as we grab the mail and see that couple across the street who wave like friendly grandparents. I’ll remember walking through a park last night, where the air smelled mossy and moist, surrounded by one hundred different shades of green.
But mostly, I’ll remember what we’ve been eating:
The ice cream.
Summer 2012, in addition to being the first summer we were married and the first summer I felt like I lived in Nashville has also, more notably, been this, at least in our house: The Summer of Ice Cream.
There are new flavors rolling out every week, from frozen yogurt to chocolate chunk to cinnamon honey, and we eat it almost as quickly as it comes out of the machine. The first time Tim made this strawberry version, plumped up with chopped walnuts and big pieces of soft chocolate chunks, we polished it off in one day. It might be our current favorite.
In fact, the way things are going, this fall may be The Autumn of Ice Cream and this winter, The Winter of Ice Cream, and who knows how long it will go. But whatever the future brings, ice cream and otherwise, one thing’s for sure:
I get to have my eyes open to notice it, right now, today.
Strawberry Walnut Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
Makes just over one quart
3/4 cup sucanat
1 cup of milk
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of pureed fresh strawberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, added at end
1/3-1/2 cup chopped chocolate, added at end
1/3-1/2 cup of shredded coconut, added at end (optional)
Combine sucanat and milk in the Vitamix, blend until dissolved. Stop and add egg yolks, vanilla, cream, berries and then blend on low speed until all ingredients are incorporated. Add to ice cream maker and use as directed or until ice cream is set up. Either add mix-ins during the last 5 minutes of churning or add in when ice cream is finished while placing into another container.