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That’s the only reason I have for explaining our absence over the last couple of weeks. With an uncharacteristically string of warm, summer-like days here in the Pacific Northwest, the place has just sort of come alive. This happens every year when we get a break from the grey and rain, and my sister-in-law always describes it like the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Glenda (the Good Witch) tells all of the Munchkins to come out of hiding. The sunshine is like our magic wand that encourages us out of our winter hiding places into the daylight. We blink, like moles do when they see sunlight. And then we start to party.
The resulting atmosphere is everything that I want this blog to be about. Impromptu gatherings. Happy hours. Dinner parties. We had a friend show up one afternoon with a bottle of champagne and about 3 pounds of fresh shrimp, ready to peel and eat. This came about from a text I sent him to say “Hi.” We spent one evening celebrating a 50th birthday and another celebrating a 75th birthday. One was fairly well planned and the other slightly spontaneous but both wonderfully convivial. We’ve had friends to dinner several times. We hosted a happy hour on our new boat. And this was all just in the last two weeks.
As I write this, we’re cruising home on our boat. What started as a quick trip (where we were going to meet several other boaters to celebrate that 75th birthday I mentioned) turned into a weeklong adventure with barely a plan and no checklist to speak of. Quite a feat for a planner like me. What I got in exchange for my spontaneity was day after day of adventure and discovery and friendship with the friends we followed throughout the San Juan Islands. We provisioned as we went. Without any plan, each night dinner consisted of what we had on hand and brought to the table to be shared. In practice and in experience, it was an adventure that unfolded in front of me.
Each day (as I neglected all of my responsibilities back home, like this blog, the quickly spreading weeds in the yard and a mailbox full of mail) I pushed away the feelings of guilt and negligence and thought, “Life Happens.” And, what a wonderful reward it can be when I just sit back and let it.
While this menu may be a little late (we had planned to post this before Memorial Day), it provides a good, easy summer meal. Whatever your backyard looks like, I hope this encourages you to fire up the grill, invite some friends or neighbors over, and let the wonder of community unfold. (We’ve found that a good cocktail, or three, helps things along if needed.)
This easy summer menu is a good example of how, if you have a few good and simple recipes at your disposal, you can be ready to entertain, or participate in a gathering, with very little notice. This salad is new to my recipe file. After a friend brought it to that 50th birthday party I mentioned, she graciously shared the recipe with me. It’s a keeper. You can make it ahead of time and just toss it right before serving. The recipe was originally from Sunset Magazine, was slightly adjusted by my friend and then barely tweaked when I made it.