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Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day weekend’

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Indulge me a bit, will you? I wait all year for the tiny crepe stand on the Asbury Park boardwalk to open, and I always eat my inaugural crepe on Memorial Day weekend. The four kids working behind the counter at this place have about as much space as Trader Joe’s allows between cash registers, yet they duck and move between the six hot plates with impressive efficiency. Which is good, because the crowd I was standing in was hungry, as the sun-soaked tend to be.

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This year my sister, who loves to say the crepes made here at this little tin shack are better than those she had in Paris, got the cannoli crepe. It comes with cannoli cream and little chocolate chips. Her friend got a S’mores crepe, with ground Graham crackers, baby marshmallows, and a squiggle of chocolate syrup.

I get what I always get: the Elvis Presley, containing Nutella, sliced bananas, and crumbled Reese’s peanut butter cups—everything but the barbiturates, as I told my friends. (Since you were wondering, there is a Priscilla, which has all of the Elvis ingredients plus vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Elvis could have put away the latter and then ordered in country-style ribs for dessert, so I’d switch the names of the crepes, myself. But I can still eat in peace.)

Getting crepes over Memorial Day afternoon, standing in the late-day sunshine in the middle of a crowded boardwalk, cooing over them and feasting on their gooshy warmth with plastic forks—it’s a very simple, very communal, and intensely satisfying experience. I don’t eat like this normally. It’s almost dizzying, actually, the degree to which this luxury tops the scales of my brain and taste buds. And full disclosure, I saved half and it’s in my fridge. Really cold, it’s good, too. A treat worth the wait once more…at least until tomorrow morning.

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It was a dark and poopy night.

Quite of few of them, actually, recently. Nothing earth shattering as the cause, but as all humans know, it’s not always earth shattering. A week ago I moved out of one building and into another, and whether this situation will be more positive is anybody’s guess. Didn’t get depressed—I’m lucky that that doesn’t really happen to me. But I go into new things with optimism and a lot of heart, and sometimes just splat the pavement. Another thing every human knows from. I was discouraged. The feeling went on for a week or so.

Then all of this madman* stuff started happening. And it’s wild enough that I put my planned post on hold till next week to tell you about it.

The First Thing: I’m walking to my car last week to unload more stuff, thinking poopily, wondering/hoping/wishing my luck would be better this time around, when a chimney sweep truck drives past me. I’ve never seen one, not ever. Who cares? says you, the thinking reader. I do, and history’s on my side: for centuries chimney sweeps have been considered to be harbingers of good luck. ‘A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be,’ right, from Mary Poppins? Apparently you can even hire them out for your wedding if you’re waffling about your chances. I’m serious. So this was kind of a knockout.

The Second Thing: Two days ago I walk past an empty house in town. A bit rundown, but I find beauty in hundred-year-old rundown houses. And although I’ve passed this house many times, I quite suddenly felt compelled to go across the lawn and look into the windows of the carriage house.

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This hook on the front of the carriage house is bigger than my hand. I wonder if it was used for the horses somehow. Does anyone know?

On my way up the lawn I look left at the overgrown hedges and see orange and yellow flowers. No way. Honeysuckle?! A few weeks back I had wanted to make a recipe with it, searched in all of the places I know it grows and found nothing. Figured it had died back for the season, and lamented about it in my ‘edible wild–late summer’ post. I taste the nectar of one, but it’s October and it had dried up. No matter. It was nothing short of a miracle for me that I was even seeing them. But there they were! I was aghast.

The Third Thing: As I turn to head home, I look down at the grass and see a tiny bright red spot. A flower? I kneel in the dew and touch it. It is a very, very small strawberry. But not just any. The kind that grows wild, the Alpine strawberry, the fraise des bois, the wild woodland strawberry. Coveted around the world for its intense flavor, and no bigger than a pea, it is my Holy Grail. This is no exaggeration.** It’s occasionally found growing around property borders. I know two people who have them in their yards, but they never get to eat them because the deer get to them first. But deer never come to houses a block from the beach.

And it wasn’t a fluke of a berry. I sweep my gaze across the grass and see dozens. Everywhere! In the overcast, early evening light, they sparkle like scattered rubies. I taste one. Like the honeysuckle, its time had passed. But now I know where to go on Memorial Day weekend next year, when they’re in fruit again.

I wish I could explain what this was like. I’m trying. It was so utterly, bewilderingly, galactically unexpected, and so exactly what I needed, that I actually choked back tears. Alpine freaking strawberries…in Allenhurst…that no one knows about. I went again yesterday just to be sure it wasn’t a hallucination brought on by the night air and poopy-thought saturation. They were there again.

So here’s the takeaway.

1) Whatever compels you, whatever you feel drawn toward, go to it. Okay, fine, as long as it’s not illegal, go. You can figure out what you were meant to learn later. Or sometimes the universe hands the lesson right to you. I have felt a pull like this many times in my life, and I always give in to it, no matter how inconvenient, because it always leads me somewhere I need to be.*** In my case: Relax. Everything’s going to be okay. And next summer you have two new wild treats to feast upon.

2) Keep your eyes open. There were in fact TWO strawberry patches, and one of them I walked right over as I was crossing to the carriage house.

For their weekly Shabbat dinner, observant Jews have two challah loaves on the table to signify God’s enormous generosity to them. He doesn’t just give them what they need; He gives them more—extra. The same sentiment is expressed in the Hebrew word and song ‘Dayenu’. It means ‘It would have been enough.’ God gives this and this and this and this and it would have been enough, but He keeps giving. This is how it felt—I was overwhelmed with custom-made treats. How to explain this? I guess it’s not necessary.

Still reeling at having found these berries; to imagine what I’m going to make with them seems downright greedy. But maybe by mid-winter I’ll sink into my sofa, imagine what they’ll taste like, and dream.

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Soaked the knees of my jeans to shoot this 🙂

*Hugs to Holden Caulfield for that one.

**Every girl needs a Holy Grail. And I’m not into Dolce & Gabbana handbags.

***Whovians will know from what episode this is paraphrased. Mad props to anyone who names it.

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