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Lake Sonoma sunset picnic

I’m gonna level with you here – the reason I haven’t been around the last few weeks is because I’m in that state of limbo, waiting for my next paycheck.

The beginning of the month always brings rent; but it also brings automatic withdrawals to pay for my health insurance and student loans – which means within the first week of the month; I’m already down more money than what my paycheck (which will be automatically deposited tomorrow) can account for.

This has been my life for months now. I’m ferociously stubborn when it comes to being self-sufficient, and so I’m not asking for sympathy or for money, even though every week I find some way to fret about money.

It’s important however, to remember to enjoy life and not let the weight of hardships keep you down.

On Sunday, Amber and I packed a picnic and raced to catch the sunset over the hills of Lake Sonoma. We tossed a few forks and bowls and napkins into a bag, and chased the rapidly setting sun through Dry Creek Valley. The sun was staring straight through the windshield blinding us, as if challenging us to follow it to the East Lake lookout before it dropped behind the western slopes of the valley. We turned left and right and left, and cruised up the valley. The sun played hide and seek, tucking behind the taller hills, and the peeking out in the clearings.

As I passed the Yoakim Bridge crossroad, I looked over at Amber and said, “We’re going to make it.” She smiled back, holding in her lap, a bowl of tomatoes and peaches tossed with basil, and a small Tupperware of chili-lime prawns that would all be tossed with arugula, corn, and zucchini for our sunset picnic supper.

The sun was due to set around 8:45. We arrived at the lookout at 8:33. We sat at a picnic table, divvying out everything into bowls as the sun began creeping further and further.

“There it goes,” I said as Amber was still putting the finishing touches on her salad. We stopped for minute to admire it before it dropped below the range, leaving only the sounds boats on the lake in dusk.

I snapped a few photos; and we ate; and Amber carved our initials into the fence with a fork – all before the mosquitoes started to grow hungry and began feeding on my exposed legs and forearms.

We retreated away from the water in hopes that the mosquitoes would not follow, and continued to watch the shades of blue and purple and orange slowly fade into darkness. Amber recited, “Susie socked me Sunday” to an audience made up of, an orchestra of bugs making noise in the trees, and me, smiling as she paused to remember the final stanza. She curtsied with a big grin on her face; pleased with herself for completing a poem that she had memorized when she was seven.

It was kind of one of those perfect nights, so simple and so beautiful; a just-what-the-doctor-ordered recipe to forget about when my checks for rent and bills will clear, draining my bank account down to the dregs.

We drove home with the fading light behind us, and OMD playing on the radio, and love in our hearts. And that’s all that really mattered.

Summer arugula salad with prawns (serves 2)

2-3 handfuls of arugula

2 heirloom tomatoes, diced (or cherry tomatoes, halved)

1 peach, diced

6-8 basil leaves, chopped

1-2 green onions, chopped

1 ear of corn, kernels removed

1 small zucchini, diced

12 – 51/60 prawns

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Heat oil in pan and sauté zucchini and corn until zucchini is soft, about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Put chopped tomato, peach, and green onions in a bowl and toss with chopped basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and toss again. Set aside.

Season prawns with salt and pepper and whatever seasoning you like (I used a chili-lime mixture from Savory Spice Shop containing: cumin, salt, mild chili powder, annatto, turmeric, aji amarillo chiles, Kaffir lime leaves, Mexican oregano and cilantro) And then toss with panko. Using same pan that you sautéed the zucchini and corn in, and a small drizzle of oil and add prawns. Cook on medium-high heat, 2 minutes each side until done.

Toss arugula with a small amount of olive oil and salt. When zucchini and corn has cooled, toss into arugula. Then toss with tomato, peach mixture. Top with prawns.

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