As a child, I was a momma’s boy (and still am, and proud of it). My mom was a huge inspiration and an integral part of shaping me into the person that I am today. I appreciate her now more than ever. And she is continually a muse for my stories.
I celebrated mother’s day with my mom yesterday, instead of today. I took her to lunch and we got cupcakes afterward and did a little window-shopping around town. After returning home, we sat on the living room floor and looked through old photos.
The funny thing about your childhood photos is that you know that that’s you in the picture, but you’ve grown so much that you hardly look like the same kid. And even though my mom has changed her hairstyle several times and has aged a bit, every picture looks exactly like I remember her.
I have a blurry spot in a memory involving Mom and jazzercise. The popular jazzercise took off in the 80’s in Southern California, where I was born. My memory recalls brightly colored, skin-tight spandex and legwarmers. I can actually still smell the combination of synthetic spandex, mixed with sweat and perfume in workout room, watching Mom, who at that time had kept her short haircut that she adopted after three kids, me being the last, all who loved pulling at her long hair.
Short-haired Mom lasted well beyond my toddler years. I remember her big round glasses and magenta housecoat with white frills down the chest. And I remember days on the river, her donning a visor and pink nylon shorts. Those were the days of falling asleep in Mom’s lap. On the couch, at the dinner table, or underneath a table at a restaurant, when I was ready to check out, I did so in the comfort of Mom’s lap. Occasionally Mom recognized my waning attention and sleepy eyes, and invited me to her lap.
Moms have instincts that few other individuals in this world can achieve. Moms have and always will know, since the days of diapers to now. My mom can still tell when I’m tired, not feeling well or hungry. Nothing has changed since I was a babe.
And it’s nice to know that now and then, you can still retreat to her when you need to. There will always be safety and peace in Mom’s arms.
One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Mom is her love for food. Mom spent countless hours in our garden and kitchen growing up. The culture of good food instilled in her was transferred to me. Her first clue that I would turn into a food lover was when she used to repeatedly catch me breaking things as toddler. I started walking earlier then most children, and often found myself digging into kitchen drawers and cabinets. Around the time that I found what I was searching for, which unfortunately was plates and china and glass serving dishes, Mom was always not far behind, “Aaron! Put that down!” And so I did, on the floor, only now it was in pieces. She quickly learned to place valuables out of reach, and I found new things to terrorize, and other ways to get injured.
And then, I was always tagging along in the garden and the kitchen with Mom. If I wasn’t following close behind her, gathering produce while she watered, I was hanging on her coattails as she made dinner. For those lucky enough to grow their own produce, they know about the magic of food. I’ve grown vegetable gardens almost every year since I was six years old. My mom taught us kids at an early age how and when to plant certain vegetables and how to take care of them throughout the year, tending to their needs for water, space, and sunshine. It’s amazing to watch a seed turn to sprout, turn to stalk, turn to plant, turn to eatable items.
Yesterday at lunch, we both swooned over a perfectly dressed arugula and zucchini salad, and quaffed a delightful strawberry rosé shrub. Shrubs are the perfect drink to made boozy for Mom’s day brunch, or virgin for hot summer days. I’m convinced I’ll find myself sipping on shrubs all summer long, so here’s a recipe so you can too.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Strawberry Shrub — Adapted from Food 52 http://food52.com/recipes/12924-strawberry-shrub
Makes about 3 cups
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries
- 3 – 3 ½ cups white balsamic
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional to taste
- Wash strawberries well, and drain well in a colander. Remove stems and slice or quarter the berries, then transfer them to a non-reactive container that can be tightly sealed.
- Pour the vinegar over the berries. Seal the container and allow to rest at room temperature (or in refrigerator if leaving things out freaks you out) for 3 days, stirring once to twice daily.
- Transfer vinegar and berries to a non-reactive saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, then reduce heat to low. Simmer as gently as possible, uncovered for half an hour, stirring on occasion. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard leftover fruit.
- Pour a tablespoon or two of the mixture into a glass. Add seltzer water, then taste. Add sugar if desired. Once it is the desired sweetness, for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer liquid to a bottle or glass jar, cool to room temperature, seal, and store in the fridge.