I work the farmers markets here in Seattle during the summer months and there are often packs of school kids walking hand-in-hand amongst the various booths. I always chat with them about their two to three month-long summer vacation, slightly (or greatly, depending on the day) lamenting the fact that we don't really have such a thing as adults. Thankfully though, there are still moments to savor, moments that feel like summer encapsulated. For me, those moments revolve around eating— and lingering—outdoors.
Last year was the first summer my boyfriend and I spent living together in our Seattle home. I'd always lived in city apartments before moving in with Sam, so this was my very first backyard and my very first garden. In May, I spent a fortune at the nursery buying new tools, soil, mulch, seeds — pretty much everything I was convinced I'd need. I texted my mom photos of tools as I wasn't sure what was what and had absolutely no clue what I was doing. A few older women helped me pick out seeds. I was ready. Days later, with me planting and Sam mowing and weeding, we had a backyard that was somewhat in order. Now came the question: where to sit?
I had my heart set on a picnic table. I could just see us sitting there with friends on Sunday evenings, drinking good beer and taking a break from our collectively busy work lives. We bought a picnic table at Home Depot the following weekend. It wasn't really the plan: Sam wanted to build one, but I knew if we waited too long, the season would pass us by. We both put it together and christened it with a big slice of strawberry galette I'd made the day before with farmers market berries. Life was good.
Life is still, of course, good. Fall and winter came and went. It was cold and there was a noticeable lack of picnic table dining. But today we're back at it. This season, the kale has a mind of its own, and we're growing sunflowers, carrots and snap peas. The yard feels lived in. Its seen many meals — usually quicker summer dishes that don't require much tending or time in the oven, but ones meant to share with friends. Or just share with each other. It's the lounging and lingering that I love the most — in the big picture of things, the food comes second.
(Image: Maxwell Ryan)