Abbott will text me any minute now with a question, or information he wants to pass on, as he does every day during his lunch period. I am especially thankful for technology when I hear from him. He acts with the same constancy whenever we’re together; both boys do. They hover around me with a predictable physicality to verify I’m here, pull away, and then return, again.
While the boys are at school and I’m at home, relatively free of distractions, I write. Nelly settles in somewhere near my desk and guards the house, ears pricked. This time of year, I keep a window ajar a few inches, letting in the damp, salty air and the steady chirping sounds from the nest in the snag next to the window. The occasional motorboat and distant lawnmower interrupt the relative stillness; the soundtrack of late spring.
There is a comforting repetitiveness to our days. I get up and make coffee; feed Nelly her breakfast and let her out; respond to emails and read the news while I drink my coffee; begin writing. I make breakfast; wake and feed the boys; take them to school. I write until noon; make lunch; write for another hour; take a long walk; pick up the boys from school.
But yesterday morning, after dropping off the boys at their respective schools, I detoured on my way to my desk. I was outside sweeping the front porch when a neighbor’s elderly husky, Ready, walked by. Despite being mostly blind and deaf, Ready is a Houdini about getting out of the house when left to his own devices. I summoned him; his large, white, fluffy frame trotted over, tail wagging. I put him in our garage with some water and a towel to lie on, and then called someone in his family to let them know he was here. Nelly growled threateningly at the garage door until I forced her upstairs.
I worked at the dining room table, so I could listen for Ready. Nelly stationed herself at the top of the stairs, a low growl rumbling in her throat. I texted Abbott a picture of her in her sentry pose as I got up to make myself something to eat. I’ve been subsisting on kale; I love its earthy flavor, and the salad I’ve been making pretty much defines my ideal lunch.
Last night, after taking Cal to lacrosse and helping with homework and reading aloud I got under the covers and started An American Childhood. Memoirs are my current favorite genre. The light was fading, but there was plenty to read by. As it became darker, it was quiet enough to hear the sound of a light breeze on the water through the open window. When Nelly began snoring, from her bed, I went downstairs and told the boys it was time to stop reading, and switched on a light. Alexi and I watched an episode of The Sopranos, and then pulled up the blankets, and fell into a deep sleep.
Blanched Kale Salad
1 pound kale or other greens, such as Swiss chard or collard greens, thick stems discarded, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
large pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 ounces feta cheese, preferably French feta, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup pitted kalamata or nicoise olives
optional: 1/2 cup grape or other small tomatoes, sliced in half
bread, or pita, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the greens, and cook until just tender, about two minutes. Rinse immediately under cold water. Drain well, pressing out the excess liquid.
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Whisk in the oil. Add the kale, toss well, and then top with the feta and olives (and tomatoes, if you are using them). Serve with a slice of good bread or pita.
Yield: 2 servings