Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sunny Saturday Musings

I just saw an ad for a pale blue Fiat 500--and I am in love. It must bring back a memory when cars were pretty. Or maybe it's the thirst for blue hydrangeas that has me looking at the world through lilac-covered glasses.

And speaking of lilacs--my friend Sue in San Francisco sent a photograph of a bunch of fresh ones that she said reminded her of spring in her native Iowa. It is one of the beautiful signs of spring in the Midwest, as in many other parts of the country. I recall a drive through Vermont at lilac time and the air was perfumed by the profusion of flowers. Rochester, New York, has lilacs in abundance--and after a long and snowy upstate New York winter, they are truly welcome. This year it was May 11-20--so put it on your calendar for 2012. In Highland Park there are 120 acres to enjoy.

We have had such a siege of rain here in the northeast. So I am particularly pleased listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue this morning. Oh, that first note on the clarinet is a tonic in itself.

Another rite of spring--lunch with my dear friend Mary. We have known each other "forever," but don't get to see each other that often: Mary lives in Florida for part of the year and I am back and forth to the Midwest. Just when we thought life was getting to be simpler, it doesn't seem so. We ventured to Tribeca in Manhattan and were hosted by my good friend Gerard. His jewel of a restaurant, Stuzzicheria, is a haven in the bustling downtown New York scene. It might remind you of an afternoon in Nantucket, but with an Italian flavor. Several of the table were 1930's enamel-topped, like the ones everybody's grandmother had. Fresh flowers, bowls of fresh fruit...I was right at home. My favorite desert is his olive cake. (I have the recipe--would you like it?) It's made with the zest of an orange and a spoonful of ice cream comes along side.

I have been thinking about Tricia Foley this weekend as she is having her open air General store in Yaphank on Long Island this weekend. Trish and Nantucket go hand-in-hand in my mind. Her fresh style reminds one of the clean sand and white sails along the coast. Trish can take a piece of string or a pebble and make something elegant out of it. Do visit her shop online. You'll get a taste of her enchantments.

And that brings me to musing about Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. Is it not a book one should reread every season? At Victoria, I got to know her lovely daughter Reeve and recommend the book she wrote about her mother, No More Words: A Journal of My Mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The intriguing title comes from a poem by AML in The Unicorn & Other Poems.

We were privileged to print some of Reeve's recollections in Victoria, as well. I so remember how she learned to respect her mother when she was writing.

Here is a quote that from Gift from the Sea that seems so appropriate for a time of year when we look to the future of land and sea and to refreshing our lives:

"The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere."

The natural world is bound by truth and it is to writers and thinkers like AML that we look to help us understand.


  1. Nancy, I feel so mellow after reading your posting. I LOVE Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea (and yes, re-reading it often is one of my favorite things to do). In fact it probably was through you and Victoria that I was first introduced to her book.

    I also enjoy... and am currently reading YOUR Jenny Walton book 'Packing for a Woman's Journey'. Seems this time of year has me yearning for more of those gentler, more gracious, more lovely insights that you are so beautiful at sharing.

    Now I feel like also re-reading Celia Thaxter's An Island Garden.

    And yes... I would love that olive cake recipe1

    PS... I agree about times when cars were prettier. Fortunately there are many folks around my area who refurbish them, so we delight in catching sight of some old lovelies.

    Now here's wishing you lots of lilac-colored glimpses in unexpected places..........

  2. I do find myself re-reading a Gift from the Sea every few years and still treasure it. Love everything Tricia Foley does too.

  3. Here's a great recipe adapted from the olive oil cake at Stuzzicheria. Enjoy!

    Orange Olive Oil Cake

    3 large eggs
    1 ½ cup sugar
    3/4 cup good quality fruity olive oil
    The zest of 3 large oranges
    2   cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/4 cup whole milk
    Pinch salt

    1.  Whisk eggs and sugar until light and pale in color. Add olive oil and whisk until fully incorporated.
    2.  Zest 3 oranges and add to egg mixture.
    3.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    4.  Starting with dry ingredients incorporate into egg mixture alternating with the milk and ending in the dry ingredients.
    5.  Bake in a 9-10 inch bunt cake pan that has been lightly sprayed with Pam.
    6.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
    7.  Rest and cool on rack for 30 minutes.

  4. The scent of lilacs is my childhood in New England...lovely and life giving. We played amongst large patches so old that they became our fortress as we climbed to the top of the branches to feel the sun kiss our faces.

  5. Nancy...just happened upon your blog , instantly drawn in.
    Gift from the Sea, forever a classic and should been read over and over.
    I just posted lilacs yesterday...such a heady smell.
    Thank You for the recipe...Orange olive oil cake, a must try.

    Glad to have found you,
    Kathy @
    Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  6. Nancy, it is good to see you posting off and on ... rather like me, I am afraid. This last year has not been one for blogging regularly. But, once in a while I feel the need to share. You seem to have had a lovely spring; I am glad. I am looking forward to trying the Olive Oil Cake recipe. I know that olive oil is supposed to be so good for health, so I will consider this one a "healthy" cake with that and orange zest! ;) I love lilacs, but here in the South we are treated more to hydrangeas during the spring. Your "Rhapsody in Blue" comment put me in mind of our Endless Summer variety. It seemed they bloomed much earlier here than usual this year. We had a very wet April and an unusually dry May; things bloomed out very quickly and, in particular, the hydrangeas. The blooms lasted only a very short time, as a result of the lack of water.

    So far June has been a bit more free with her showers, for which we are very thankful. I have a nice garden of peppers, tomatoes, peas, squash, okra, beans, potatoes, etc. that we coaxed through the four week drought in May and is now receiving almost daily soaking rains. We are hoping for an abundant harvest.

    I love to come here and read your generous posts. I will actually be in Rochester, NY, later this summer and hate I will have missed their lilacs. Perhaps I will get a chance to visit Highland Park anyway (I have already looked at the Wikipedia page you linked... thank you!) It looks lovely and what a beautiful conservatory. I have always wanted to get to Central Park, and just to read that Highland Park was also designed by Olmsted cheers my heart. I will be there for a week (attending a conference) but am hoping to have some free time for sightseeing.

    I have never read A Gift From the Sea... not sure exactly why, but see that I must put this on my summer reading list.

    Again, thank you for sharing from your wealth of knowledge and experience...