The next time your youngest wakes you up far too early, with the sunlight still sparkly and new, and your head cottony with sleep, you might not squeeze your eyes shut, hoping he will go read books so that you can doze for ten more minutes. Instead, you might pay attention to that light, and the air it flows in on, and notice something. It's cooler, yes, but there's something else, something indescribable and almost indefinable, something that your Maine-born bones and lungs and skin instinctively sense before your mind has a chance to catch on.
Summer is fading.
Sure, there are still plenty of days of heat and blinding sunshine to come, but there, in the early morning light, you can sense fall.
Summer is short in Maine.
And so, in that prophetic light, you might decide to get out of bed, herd the boys downstairs, and turn on the oven. You might gather round you all the fruit that hums I am summer with each juicy bite, a half-dozen free-stone peaches and handfuls of garnet-hued raspberries and tiny wild blueberries. You might toss it all together with a scoop of sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of almond extract, and pinches of roasted cinnamon and tapioca starch, confident despite the lack of recipe guidance, because summer has no recipe. You might even do this before you put the coffee on, such will be your sense of urgency: you need to capture this fleeting season as much and as many times as possible.
With your fruit toppling over itself in your favorite red baking dish, you will turn easily, unthinkingly, towards the grains, letting your fingers sift through a pile of rolled oats accented with small scoops of almond flour, teff, and pastry flour. A little bit of brown sugar, for that caramelized flavor, and more of the roasted cinnamon, and you're ready for the butter. Of which, you will almost certainly tell yourself, a whole stick is not excessive, not in the company of all those berries and whole grains. You will become more convinced of this as your fingers work it into your oats, and the warmth of your hands and the softening butter easily release a sweet, nutty aroma that wafts around your head, whispering that you've done a good thing. As you spread the crumbly topping over the waiting fruit, you will not be able to stop your hands from popping a few pieces into your mouth. Don't feel guilty; the fruit won't miss it.
An hour later, when the bubbling crisp comes out of the oven and you're cajoling the boys to brush their teeth so you won't be late for your farmer's market meet-up with a friend, you might pause for a moment, privately pleased at how productive your morning has already been.
You will be even more pleased with yourself when you realize that the not-too-sweet crisp is a perfect midday snack, shared with your friend after the trip to the market and a walk to the beach, so that the boys could get in some good rock clambering and tide pool investigating. You might even appreciate the energy boost it gives you, as you head back outside to dig a new garden bed.
And because that crisp reminds you of a healthy sort of dessert, you will not think twice when, late in the day, the boys' heads snap to attention at the sound of an ice cream truck winding its way through the neighborhood. You will grab some cash, hurry the boys onto the sidewalk, and wave the truck over, at which point you will buy them their very first, ever in their lives, ice cream truck ice cream. And you will smile and laugh at their excitement and glee, dinner be damned, because what's the point of growing up in a small coastal Maine town if you can't experience the old-fashioned, summer thrill of the friendly ice cream truck man?
At the end of the evening, with exhausted boys falling gratefully into their beds, you will tuck them in and say your goodnights, listening with a full-of-love heart as they list all the things about the day that made them glad. You might decide that nothing makes your day more than knowing your children feel so much joy and contentment with their lives.
And just think, it all started with that light.
Posted by Tara Barker at 1:53 AM