Monday, July 22, 2013

For Katie

We had a good weekend: my sister-in-law's 30th birthday, which merited a cozy dinner at The Chop House; my brother and sister-in-law's backyard wedding reception, which involved two big white tents and lots of casual, yummy food with family; blueberry pancakes; a family bike ride and playground stop; hot tub baths last night before the thunderstorm; farmers' market; morning runs; burgers on the grill; a quick visit to Lake Michigan on Sunday afternoon.

And then today was back to normal: dentist appointments, groceries, errands, laundry. (Am I the only one who feels like a hero when I wash all the sheets and re-make the beds? I feel like that implies that I don't do it that often, which I'll neither confirm nor deny.) Tonight, Jason and Annie were taping a segment about the upcoming piano concert at a local TV station (I'll try to say that casually, as though my eight-year-old being on TV is no big deal). Jemma and I decided to bake something (I voted for this; she overruled me with this), so we were in the kitchen together - aprons on, little chair pulled up to the counter by the sink, flour and butter and measuring cups everywhere.

As I was peeling peaches, she stuck her little face close to the bowl to smell them and I could see the sun-freckles on her nose. I fed her a slice of peach and we talked about getting more tomorrow from the market, then putting on old clothes and eating them outside, letting the juice run down our chins and get all over our shirts.

"Did you ever do that?" she asked.

"Yep," I said. "Peaches only taste like this for a few weeks. You have to eat them as much as you can."

I sunk the paring knife into the skin of the last peach and slowly pulled the skin off the flesh in a big chunk. I was thinking about how some moments are extraordinary, like watching the moon rise over the Swiss Alps or under the Eiffel Tower, and some are ordinary, like teaching your daughter how to peel a peach. I showed her how I tugged the skin away slowly, pulling off a wide swath before starting again at the top. I told her how, in a few years, I'd let her practice doing it herself with the knife, and a few years after that, she'd be doing it all by herself.

"And someday, maybe you'll have a little boy or girl, and you'll teach them how to peel peaches in your kitchen," I said, thinking about baking with my mom and feeling all Circle of Life about this cinnamon-scented baking moment. "Who do you think taught me how to peel peaches?" I asked.

"I don't know," said Jemma.

"Guess," I said.

And she said, "Mrs. McIntosh?" Her kindergarten teacher.

And though my friend Katie did not, in fact, teach me how to peel peaches, I love that Jemma thought she might have. Because in Jemma's little almost-first-grade mind, her beloved kindergarten teacher can teach us all anything she wants to. Because in reality, that idea is actually pretty true in its own special way, especially this summer. This summer, Mrs. McIntosh is teaching me to treasure the moments - both extraordinary and ordinary - that make up a life, including a Monday night making peach and blueberry crumbles with my Jemma.

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