It’s fall! Fall! We had a threat of a tropical storm over the weekend that brought no rain or wind, but instead the most gloriously breezy and cool weather. I made soup on Monday, because I haven’t really cooked since May and it seemed like the appropriate time to start again. Tortellini, Italian sausage, kale, the last of the stock from our Christmas turkey…that soup is something else.
I love the fall so much more in New Orleans that I have anywhere else we have lived, probably because it brings with it long, sunny days, breezes and temps that are still in the 80s. In Chicago, I hated the fall because it meant that shortly we’d be dealing with the snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures that made me go crazy for six months out of the year.
In New Orleans, fall has always brought good things to us. In 2010, I got more work and started back at the paper. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, one of my last memories of my dad just being him…relaxed and funny and kind and smart. In 2011, we got married, and the fall was a flurry of preparations and love and joy. In 2012, I started a new job and we finally had the stability we’d needed for years. And now, our son is getting ready to head into the world in about 10 weeks, and every day I find myself tearing up at the thought of having this, all of it. I still can’t believe this life is real and that it’s mine, and I guess that’s the thing about being content.
It’s easy for me to see fall as a season of hope down here, and for that I’m grateful.
I can probably count on one hand the number of things I have actually cooked from scratch this summer. I survive on bagels, crackers, plums and eggs. Vegetables, all kinds, make me want to die a little, as does any form of poultry. Except for eggs, which have saved my life. I eat two, sometimes four a day, usually scrambled.
I am getting really good at making scrambled eggs.
It’s too hot to do much but eat frozen novelties and lay on the sofa. That’s been my main activity of choice when I’m not at work, which is something I never would’ve admitted before. We made some homemade ice cream sandwiches with chocolate-chip cookies and vanilla ice cream, and they are my favorite thing these days. I try to limit myself to one per day, but there are no rules when it’s 100 degrees outside.
One of the things that has surprised me about pregnancy is how comfortable and right it feels to me. I had always thought that the changes to my body would be too much, but I feel happier and more in tune with myself that I think I ever have. I started doing yoga a couple a months ago, and one of the ideas the teacher always returns to is letting go of thoughts and habits that do not serve us. After 30 years, I think I’m getting it.
I spent yesterday, my day off, puttering around the house and relaxing. For dinner, we made a pork tenderloin, roasted carrots, asparagus and a loaf of the most amazing bread. Afterward, J. baked chocolate chip cookies. We stood in the kitchen and ate them right off the baking sheet, leaning into each other and just breathing.
Last week was a big one, and I’m glad to see it pass. Baby L. is officially a boy, as I have suspected since April. But, more importantly, he is active and healthy. “Normal,” said the ultrasound tech, like a broken record. “Normal. Normal. Normal.” And I started crying right there on the table, dress hiked up to my chin and belly on display, because I had always thought that “as long as he’s healthy” was just something people said. But one terrifying result on a screening test was all it took for me to be right there with them.
My boy. My sweet boy.
Got home from a meeting and errands today, and immediately dove into a tuna sandwich. Pregnancy has a way of making foods that are normally average, at best, into the most amazingly delicious thing ever.
So far, this experience has involved a lot of smiling and nodding while I receive advice from well-meaning strangers. “Sleep on your left side, or your baby could die!” they say. “Have you gotten on day care lists yet?” “Are you really drinking/eating that? Don’t you know it could poison the baby?”
Tell the world you’re pregnant, and suddenly everyone’s an OB/GYN that specializes in early childhood development and prenatal nutrition.
I’m good at pretending I’m taking advice but not so good at following it, so I continue to sleep in whatever position my body flops into during the night, dismiss the idea of day care and consume such dangerous substances as tuna fish, coffee and delicious cheeses whenever I please. There are real worries that come with growing a baby, and I have my share, but I don’t have the time or the energy to fret over the lesser evils.
I woke up early this morning, so hungry it felt like my stomach was going to turn itself inside-out. This is a common feeling for me these days, because I’m pregnant and have never felt so insatiably hungry in my entire life. My day revolves around meals: two breakfasts, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, later dinner and occasionally a late-night snack. My first breakfast is usually something quick, and today I microwaved a bowl of oatmeal and shoveled it into my mouth as quickly as I could without burning my tongue.
We’re in the throes of summer here now, and I was driving around Mid-City yesterday thinking about how much I love this time of year. The heat and the heaviness in the air force me to take life a little slower, to breathe more purposefully, to spend time lounging around the house, being grateful for my family and this moment and this existence in my favorite place.
Sometimes, especially lately, I take a step back and really look at my life, and what I see leaves me breathless and giddy.
There’s been a stream of happy visitors in NOLA for the past week, and we had been eating out far more than usual, but all that came to a screeching halt when all of us contracted some sort of mutant flu at the wedding of my dear friends P. and M. on Saturday. You name the flu-like symptom, we have it (which, honestly, is a pretty disgusting thing to admit).
We’ve eaten our way through all the frozen soup stores, and have resorted to a spicy chicken broth concoction that seems to work for about 10 seconds before we go back to our usual program of sniffling and hacking. Hoping to fully recover by this weekend, when beautiful former neighbor R. gets in from Chicago! Miss her so much, so happy she’ll be here with us for a bit.