I am currently sitting quietly on the banks of the grand river, basking in sunlight, kissed by a gentle breeze, and serenaded in birdsong. Families are hiking past with their fishing rods in hand, dogs in tow and their lunches packed. It’s the first signs of Summer, and I am in love.
I appreciate every season and what they have to offer; for as much as I do love the warmth and the Sun, if I were baking in it for 12 straight months out of the year, I don’t know how happy I’d be. I try to enjoy our Ontario climate in all of its year-round glory and find ways to take advantage of the temperature changes the best that I can. What I think I appreciate most about our seasons, though, is the transition that come along with them. As they shift from one to the next, there’s a child-like anticipation for all of the wonderful things on the horizon.
Christmas, snow forts and skiing in the Winter. Puddle-jumping, rainbows and cleaning (yes cleaning) in the Spring. Sweaters, leaf-piles, and bonfires in the Fall; no matter the season, gearing up for what’s coming brings a smile to my face. That said, Spring and Summer do seem to arrive with slightly more elation. Maybe it’s because of how the sky transitions from perpetually grey, with a looming chance of a late April snowfall, to promisingly blue and packed full of cotton candy clouds. Or perhaps it’s because my back gets a break from the shovelling and I get to change my tires over, doing away with that annoying ‘pressure’ sensor on the dashboard. Not to mention the end of wresting the kids into 17-layers of clothing. Those are certainly valid reasons, but I think that, of all argument that can be made, it’s most likely because the days grow longer in all the best ways possible. That, and ice cream.
This morning we eased into our day, enjoying coffee and breakfast by the rising Sun before meandering out to the yard to tackle the inevitable post-winter clean up. Not long after, we took to cranking down the hot tub, transforming it into our Summer oasis and chill zone, and went for a dip to escape the hot, hot heat. From there it was a trip the hardware store and a venture down to the farmers market before returning to meet my parents to enjoy some good company and lunch under the gazebo. Up next was a lovely drive along winding country roads, bringing me to where I sit now, then it will be back home to fire up the grill in anticipation of burgers for dinner. There’s a lot to pack in, and because we know that the weekends are both precious and fleeting, we do our best to take advantage while we can.
As mentioned previously, I look forward to tackling a number of goals this coming season, and now that we’ve been teased with what’s to come, I can’t help but look forward to even more. Blue Jays, barbecues, backyard jam sessions, blowing bubbles, bike rides, bouncing on trampolines, and braving the sub-zero temperatures of the garden sprinkler at every opportunity. I am excited to get back into ultimate (frisbee), enjoying a round or two of golf, climbing some trees, playing hopscotch, getting covered in watermelon, discovering new park slides and tubing down the grand. Because the things we often look most forward to are rooted in the memory of having done them before; all of these activities have me feeling rather giddy. It’s a beautiful chance to recapture moments past, and while I look forward to doing exactly that, I am, without doubt, even more excited for creating new experiences, both for myself and for our family.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t call out what is perhaps the most wonderful part of all for the upcoming season. The piece that brings people and culture together, harmonizing us with the world all around: the food. While many would label Spring and Summer to be synonymous with grilling (and they aren’t wrong), there is so much more to it than that. I think of Summer, in particular, as ‘Fresh’ and ‘Inspiring’. A trip through the farmers market for fresh vegetables and fruit yields endless possibilities back in the kitchen. Please do not mistake me: I love standing in front of the grill or the smoker any day of the week, but I can’t neglect the clean and crisp flavours that come from fresh salads, pastas or deserts. In fact, I’ll leave a ‘recipe’ for one of my favourites down below.
Ah, yes, there is no shortage of activity to achieve on a lovely outdoor day. I love seeing people getting out and sharing spaces, our moods lighter, our faces full of smiles; it’s a beautiful thing. Conversely, it’s also a rewarding time to just do nothing now and again. Find a cozy spot by yourself near the river, nestle into a hammock and allow your mind to slip into the breeze. As I continue to think on what’s to come, I must remind myself that those things are always going to be there, forever on the horizon and if I spend too much time obsessing over them, I’ll forget to enjoy the other thing that’s always there: the present moment. So, now at the end of my day as I sit in bed with the window open and rain dances across the roof, I will close this off and enjoy exactly that. Thank you, Spring. Thank you, Summer. I look forward to spending as much time with you as possible.
These ingredients are loose with their quantities; adjust this to your taste, the main point here is that a few simple ingredients can transform into something incredibly crisp, fresh and makes you want to find a harvest table somewhere to share and break bread with friends and strangers alike.
- Pasta, fresh if possible, I use spaghetti
- A couple good glugs of olive oil (let’s call it 2-3 tbsp depending how many mouths your feeding)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced devilishly thin, watch your fingers, please
- ~1 tsp chilli pepper flakes, though add more if you like heat
- 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
- All of the parmesan cheese
- Get your heavily salted pasta water boiling and ready to go for al dente pasta. This dish comes together quickly, especially if you use fresh pasta.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Olive oil is delicate and should really only be used for dressing and finishing, not frying. In this application, though, we’re going to infuse it with the flavour of the garlic, so a bit of frying is a good thing, just don’t let it smoke.
- Add in your thinly sliced garlic and fry until light golden brown on each side, which will only take a few seconds so do not walk away. Remove the garlic and set aside…these tasty little chips will be added back later.
- Cut the heat to the pan.
- Add in your chili flakes, and let them get toasty for a few seconds.
- Using tongs, add in your cooked noodles, straight from the pot they were cooked in. In other words, don’t drain your pasta first, we want some of that starchy water, which will help to create and thicken our ‘sauce’. This is also why we cut the heat. If you’re adding water to oil, and you’re not careful, interesting things can happen, especially if you’re cooking with gas.
- Return some heat to the pan, let’s call it medium-low.
- Add in your lemon juice/zest.
- Toss to get happy, plate and garnish with fried garlic, parm and more lemon if you so desire.
- Eat outdoors, preferably with fresh bread, salad and friends.