Monday, May 08, 2006

Slow Living

I’ve always relished the thought of slow food. That to properly enjoy a meal, it needs time to prepare, and more importantly, time to savour. Food shouldn’t be rushed, it’s the experience and company that makes it memorable.

The same is true for life. Big grand event, a crowd of people, music and laughter can make the blood rush, and give a momentary high, but then its gone. Life works best at a slow pace, when the little things can be enjoyed and a moment of pleasure can fill a century.

Yesterday was like that. We didn’t do anything exciting, all of it was spent at home or close by. Yet it has a glow in my memory. I look back this morning and can savour every slow second.

It started with one of those slow waking ups, when you know you’ve had a good nights sleep, and know you don’t have to rush anywhere or do anything much. It was the kids who woke me, they were whispering loudly and giggling in the next room (despite a big ol house, we have all three sleeping in the same room). They were playing at something, so LL and I rolled up against each other and just cuddled sleepily.

Sure enough, in a little while all three tumbled into our room and into our bed. No lie ins at ours, the kids, when awake, demand attention. Its easy to acquiesce, and a little bouncing dance takes place as we both have to give all three big hugs. We talk a bit, a book is pulled out for one of us to read to them, then they tumble out of bed and downstairs to play or watch a little telly (they know that on Sunday mornings they’ll never be refused if they ask to watch TV). LL and I are left with a little private time for some languid morning loving.

Too soon, but in other ways soon enough, we break up, one to shower, one to go downstairs. Its my turn on the early shift so I ask the kids what they want, already knowing the answer. “Canadian” Pancakes it is (Canadian because I refuse to call them “drop scones” and LL refuses for them to just be called “pancakes”, one of those little compromises of married life). I don’t cook them every week, but a plateful of them, slathered with butter and drenched with Maple Syrup (Quebecois only, from my “dealer” in Montreal (my oldest sis (she has a friend who’s a maple farmer (high quality ultra addictive stuff)))).

Then a bit of playtime, while I wash up and brew some dough to rise and we all get dressed. Its not raining, there’s even a little sunshine, so its off to the climbing tree. We live on the Southern Banks of the North Downs. There is this ancient beech near by, its trunk a good 20 foot thick, branches bowed down to the ground. Every family that knows it calls it a different name, “Neverland”, “The Pirate Ship”, “That Tree”, to us its just the “Climbing Tree”. Its an easy hike for small legs, then you get a good play at the end. Walk home and its time for lunch.

We get home to bright sunshine, so the terrace sees its first use this year as our dinning room. In summer we live outside, and have a big terrace overlooking the garden for a big round table. Lunch is some fresh sour dough bread, various meats and cheeses, and a big bowl of fresh veg. Slow food indeed.

LL is a month away from a big professional exam. Not something she has to take at her point in her career, but something she wanted to do for herself. If her young whippersnapper traders have to do it, so will she. So, with a sorrowful look at her sun drenched garden she repaired upstairs to her books. That leaves me to play with the kids. Sure, I do a few chores in and around the house, but that’s just filler between games of “It” and “Wild Dogs” (don’t ask, I don’t know the rules (it just seems to involve me being chased or chasing). It’s a very slow, very happy afternoon. LL even comes down for a game of “It” before going back up to the books.

Though some clouds roll through, it doesn’t rain (much) and is clear and warm in the late afternoon. Rubbing my hands together I wheel the BBQ out (a Canadian Calor Gas wonder of modern science (of course)). With a big of time to whip up pudding, I sauté some mushrooms and courgette in butter and garlic, chop up two types of spring cabbage to steam, and put some rice on. Then… oh then… I quickly grill some Pork Loin I’d set to marinade earlier in the day. It all comes together nicely, the house and garden full of good cooking smells.

We all wash up and sit down to eat. Its still just a little spring chilly, but pullovers take care of that. We sit and chat and sing (the kids love singing songs at table (so do I)) and most importantly eat. It disappears, then I go and get pudding. I’d experimented with a Rhubarb Tart, warm with a little Crème Fraiche, it was heaven.

After dinner, LL actually managed to convince the kids that scrubbing the outdoor pots to get the algae off was a game. I did the washing up to escape that particular chore, but the laughter and giggles from outside made me wish I hadn’t. Soon enough then all come in, drenched and happy, and I scoot them upstairs for a quick shower. Three stories later (they all have to have their own), its in to bed. LL goes back to her books and I do the “Sunday Night”. Its amazing how many things have to get done to prep a family for a new week. I don’t mind really, it nicer if two do it, but I’ll get my pay back later. I just bliss out remembering a good slow lived day, and soon its all done.


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