Procreation is a funny thing. Soon after Charlotte was born, Andrew and I wagered on from whom Charlotte would inherit her looks; everything ranging from head shape to toes were considered and debated. As you’d guess, the wagers are still on and seem to change every day as Charlotte grows.
These days, most people who meet Charlotte say she’s the spitting image of me; brown eyes, blonde hair, round face. It’s true that we share the same colouring, but when I look at her sweet little face, it’s her Dad that I see, especially that broad smile and those wide eyes framed by wonderfully long lashes.
I most recognize myself, weirdly, in Charlotte’s forearms. There’s nothing distinctive about my forearms, other than, perhaps, that of all body parts visible from one’s own eye, they’re the most omnipresent. But when I look at her tiny arms, there’s a sense of familiarity that makes me smile, like a little secret that only I’m in on (Andrew’s in on the secret too, but he’s probably tired of hearing about it already!).
That rush of familiarly — or maybe, more accurately, déjà vu — has happened often lately, in an intriguingly two-fold manner. Dear Charlotte has just graduated from the so-called “baby swings” to the standard children’s swings at the park. Better still, she’s just learned how to pump so we no longer need to push her for hours on end… though she’s still eager for plenty of underdogs.
At Cadzow Park this weekend, Charlotte graciously allowed me a break from pushing duties, so I jumped on the swing beside her. We were soon matched in our glides, and I had one of those moments as I watched her forearms stretch and contract as she leaned back to gain momentum, a big grin on her lovely little face.
What is it about little girls and swings? She could happily glide back and forth for hours, just as I could back when I was her age. I didn’t have the advantage of five great playgrounds within walking distance, though: just an old wooden swing suspended from a high-enough branch of the massive weeping willow tree at the family home.
I would while away hours on that swing in the summer, first hung for my older sister years prior to my arrival (the tire swing, on the opposite side of the trunk, was less of a draw). I swung so much that the grass underneath the swing gave way to dirt, edged by roots on either side. Every summer, Mom would paint the seat, leaving me antsy for a few days while it adequately dried.
The languid, waving willow branches provided shelter and a rustling soundtrack to those lazy afternoons. One particular branch served as a literal upper limit to my swinging potential; you could kick off of it, but that seemed rude to the stately old tree. Rather, I’d swing to a point just short, alternately pumping and resting to maintain what seemed like a perfect rhythm.
Today, this would likely be called meditation but back then, it felt like freedom. Reaching for the sky, feeling the wind against your face, then falling back — and maybe, if you were a daredevil, jumping off mid-point — was one of the best ways to experience summer weather.
Are Charlotte’s forearms so similar to mine merely due to nature? Or have I somehow nurtured them to develop similarly to mine? Either way, it makes me smile… and oh so glad I’ve still got a good reason to hop on a swing and go for a ride once in a while.
One of my other favourite summer memories is enjoying corn on the cob. Mom always planted plenty in her garden, and, as we all know, there’s nothing like eating it fresh off the stalk.
I picked up my first Baker’s Dozen at McCully’s this weekend and, just boiled and dusted with salt and pepper, it was pretty perfect. If I had a barbecue, however, I’d be definitely trying this take on a Mexican “street food” classic.
Corn on the Cob with Cheese and Lime
4 ears of corn in the husk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
3/4 cup feta cheese
Lime wedges for serving
Soak corn in husks in cold water 10 minutes. Drain and grill on a rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until husks are charred, about 10 minutes. Remove husks and grill until kernels are browned in spots, about 10 minutes.
While corn is grilling, whisk mayonnaise and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Chop feta extremely fine.
When corn is finished, brush with mayonnaise mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Squeeze on lime juice just prior to serving.