Last night I tried to remember the last time we (by "we" I mean our family of four) had the weekend to ourselves. I think it might have been the weekend of July 4, though we did go to a grill-out and were frantically getting the basement ready for Stuart's parents, so I'm not even sure that counts. Anyway, as lovely a summer as we've had, with family visiting from out of town and traveling and all that, it was really nice to have a whole weekend with no traveling, no visitors, and no social obligations whatsoever. It helps that the weather has been so gorgeous you can't help but smile.
My only goals were to get the house clean and go raspberry-picking. The house isn't clean yet, though Stuart made some headway on a major organizing project downstairs, a project involving a trip to Home Depot to buy a hammer drill and subsequent trips to the hardware store for miscellaneous screws and such. And we did go raspberry-picking this morning, out at Door Creek Orchard, which is really more of a place for apples than raspberries, but we came home with 4 pints (2 of which have already been consumed; fresh raspberries are like candy) and the happy feeling of having spent an hour outdoors in one of the prettiest spots in Dane County. I plan to return several times in the next couple of months to pick apples, buy cider and enjoy the scenery.
Also, the owners of the orchard recently adopted a puppy named Georgia. Georgia is a rescue dog, and happens to be The Cutest Puppy I have ever met. We were all taken by Georgia, especially Anya, who absolutely loves animals. This she must get from her dad. I never had a pet growing up - one brief stint with a wily Houdini-like gerbil notwithstanding; I'll tell you all about it sometime - and as an adult, I've never been interested in pets. Too smelly, too much hair, too much poop to clean up, cats make my dad sneeze, our house is small - you name it, I have the excuse. But Stuart had pet dogs growing up; that combined our daughter's magnetic and automatic attraction to anything remotely furry and cute gives me the rather foreboding feeling that my family will one day all turn on me and beg for a pet, in particular a dog. And if we can find one even half as sweet and soft and cute as Georgia From The Apple Orchard, I might, just might, give in. I dunno...dogs may be cute, but they still can produce a heck of a lot of poop.
While I'm going on about animals, I might as well mention that while I was running early this morning, I saw a gorgeous pair of birds. I was running on a bike path by a golf course, and a woman out walking her dog beckoned to me and silently pointed out two large, tall, gangly birds with long beaks and red markings on their heads. "Herons?" I said quietly to her. "Egrets?" she responded, and we both shrugged, then continued on our respective ways. When I got home, I looked them up in the "wading birds" section of my bird book, and the closest match was Sandhill Cranes. I tell you this as an example of how I love encountering nature in my city. We live near a conservation park, where we sometimes see wild turkeys wandering the restored prairie, and we often hear coyotes at night when the bedroom windows are open; they start howling in response to the sirens of emergency vehicles and the barking of neighborhood dogs.
We've been eating well, too, this weekend. Last night Stuart made fried tofu, breaded with cornstarch and spices. This afternoon, the kids and I cut two giant bowls full of fresh herbs to make pesto. We made two batches of traditional basil pesto, plus one batch of pesto made with parsley and sage. It's something I've never tried before, but I have an abundance of parsley this year, and I didn't want it to go to waste. It turns out, by the way, that parsley pesto is delicious. I'm not sure how to use it yet, but maybe I'll toss it with chopped tomatoes from the garden and chunks of fresh mozzarella.
We have one full week plus a few days before the school year starts. Wish me luck, everyone. I thought I was all ready for Daniel to start kindergarten, but it may turn out to be harder than I anticipated. He's ready, I know, and it will be good for everyone for him to be in school, but as much as I hate to admit it, I'm realizing that I have some emotions to work through. Enrollment for Madison's elementary schools was a few days ago, and I went completely unprepared. I ran into a friend of mine, who saw my shell-shocked face and offered to take Daniel and Anya to the playground outside the school while I went through the line of forms to fill out and volunteer positions to sign up for. I gratefully accepted. I think what's so hard is that life is going to change, mostly for the better, but there is no going back, and I just need to be ready for that.
I'm glad I have had this weekend to spend time with my family and relax a little, and think about all of that.