Monday, July 23, 2012

Free days, and every day, and summer salad.

Free days are the best. We don't get very many of them -- mine have been mostly in the form of snow days, and even those are few and far between, living in an area where a foot or so of snow is something easily shrugged off, and nothing less than a blizzard can keep Chicagoans off the roads and into the office. But a free day, on a Friday, in the middle of the summer, with no access to work email or networks or servers? It's like being gifted with a mini vacation. The day just looks different, feels endless, when you have nine hours that would otherwise be spent in a cubicle or in rush-hour traffic, to instead be used however you want.

To the summer storm that blew in last week and left my office without power on Friday: Thank you.


So I made breakfast. I did laundry. I had lunch with Murdo. I drove to my in-laws' house with the windows down, enjoying the short break from the sweltering heat that has been pounding us all summer, to pick up the rest of the corn freshly-picked from the family farm. As I passed by other drivers, I wondered where they were headed, if this was a normal Friday for them, or if they had been gifted with a free day, as well. I got to wondering how people spend their days when they realize how much of a gift they really are.



It's tough to remember that every day is a gift when you're just going through the motions of the weekly routine. I hadn't really thought about it until just now, writing about this free day as the best thing ever. But shouldn't every day be like this? Even if you're stuck in the office or in traffic or if you don't have the time to do what you want, there is no reason to set the everyday aside as one that doesn't matter, to push it to the back of the shelf while the free days and snow days and vacations and weekends get the spotlight. We get so caught up in the everyday that those little moments -- the ones that a free day is often filled with and so make it easy to embrace as the best -- can get lost.



I spent most of the rest of that day in my backyard, sitting under the shade of our tree, shucking about 70 ears of corn. Then, in my kitchen, blanching and cooling and stripping the corn kernels off the cobs. Measuring, bagging, labeling, freezing. For a day sometime in winter, when the snow is eight inches high and I can come home to fresh corn chowder and think about that free day over the summer, and remember that it's the moments like these that make every day just as good.



Watermelon, Corn and Avocado Salad 
There is no way around it: This salad tastes like summer. The photo above actually doesn't even have corn in it; that was a bowl from my first try, when I added tomatoes, instead. I like it with corn, better -- it adds a different texture and sweetness. And I know this post is mostly about corn, but the juicy watermelon and the creamy avocado are the real stars. I don't really have a recipe because I didn't follow one, and I didn't measure. Just feel it out according to what you have and what you like. Here is what I did: 

chopped watermelon
chopped avocado
fresh corn, stripped from the cob
a handful of fresh basil, chopped (cilantro or mint works, too)
balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Combine everything in a bowl. Adjust balsamic and herbs to taste.

9 comments:

  1. Great pictures. And free days are the best. I just had one (well, an afternoon, really) last week and it was glorious. Nothing to do but drink wine and chat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Free afternoons are just as awesome! Glad you enjoyed yours. :) And thank you!

      Delete
  2. Must have been such a crazy storm up there---what a blessing, both for your day off and for the farmers! Love the way you spent your day and amazed you shucked 70 (70!!!) ears of corn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes -- with the drought around these parts, I'm always happy when it rains. A flower even bloomed from one of my plants that I thought for sure was dead!

      Delete
  3. oh your free day sounds lovely! i spent my friday battling a leaking roof and contractors traipsing thru the abode fixing ceilings. the joy of home ownership, yes?

    however, i cannot complain, there are plenty in the area who did not have power, and it could've been worse. i shucked 6 ears of corn sunday and i thought that was an endeavor. you are so smart to hold onto these fresh corn kernels for the winter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agh, homeownership. Sorry about your Friday, friend, but hey -- at least your house is dry? And yes, thank goodness Murdo and I haven't lost power yet (knock on wood!). Looking back, those 70 ears of corn didn't seem like that much. Maybe because I was enjoying shucking corn way more than I could ever enjoy being in an office. :)

      Delete
  4. Love the new header! I'm jealous of your access to a bounty of summer corn and your free day, of course :) I had a sorta of free afternoon last Friday as I had to wait for two city inspectors to check our a/c and furnace that was just installed. I couldn't leave home, but it was nice anyway. I just love summer salads simply dressed with vinaigrette.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a lovely way to spend a free day. I loved this post, Jacqui, and it really was a wonderful reminder to cherish every day, including the mundane ones. I do think I needed that as we begin another week :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely pictures and true true words. Thank you for sharing with us. I am happy and thankful for my own "free" day today. What a gift!

    ReplyDelete