Sunday, June 23, 2024

Keeping Busy on the Longest Day of the Year

I wanted to light the cherries on fire, but it turns out I'd bought the wrong kind of accelerant. The recipe called for cherry brandy, but I'd substituted cherry whiskey, and apparently cherry whiskey does not ignite. So, that was a big bummer. The dessert (cherry cheesecake bars) still ended up being delicious. Also, the lemon cookies. 

I am not what anyone would call a baker. Somehow, despite my best efforts, I always make a mess. Flour on the floor, dribbled egg on the counter, batter spatter on the walls. And everything seems to take ten times longer than I plan. Pitting cherries, for example. Ridiculous. Even with a cherry pitter. 

Still, I pitted my way through. The prep work for a celebration takes time. I wanted to take time. This is a new practice for me. Living in the present moment, rather than ruminating over the past or worrying about the future. In the present it was the Summer Solstice, and my husband and I had invited several friends over to mark the day. It's a thing I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember, but then inevitably, I forget. 

This goes back to my English teacher days, reading The Great Gatsby so many times I can practically recite it, random lines jumping out at me and sticking in my head, like this one, said by the bored, breathy Daisy Buchanan: 

"Do you always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it."  

Anyway, this year I decided once and for all that I would not miss it. In addition to the lemon cookies and non-flammable cherry cheesecake bars, I whipped up a batch of fruity drinks. Everyone brought some variation of a fruity dessert, and we all sat outside on the patio. This week we were having a Heat Dome and the temperature was 95 degrees, but whatever. We pitted through it. I had read somewhere that a good conversation starter is to ask people what's keeping them busy lately. 

The question had all of us talking well after the sun set about volunteer projects and books and gardening and kitchen renovations and getting-a-kid-off-to-college, while also managing to pull in stories about a trip to Prague, a whale breaching off the coast of New Jersey, a theory about why women have big hips, and how lawns are dumb and why not just turn the whole thing into a perennial garden. 

Before we knew it, the longest day of the year celebration was over and we were divvying up the leftover fruity desserts and saying our goodbyes. Only a few days later, and I am already wanting to jump ahead to next year’s Summer Solstice. I know I know I need to live in the now, but forgive me if I make one small note: 

Next time go all in with the brandy and set the cherries on fire. 

(cherries, not igniting) 

Celebration, after the sunset

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