I've been gone for a few days. Maybe some of you have noticed? And I haven't been doing any cooking. Zilch. All of the sudden I have a lot of work. Turns out no one is paying me to putter around in my kitchen and write about it, so sometimes I have to leave my kitchen for awhile. What wonderful comments you've been leaving here, though! So delightful to come home to. Thank you.
And we went to Cama Beach State Park for two days--little cabins with sinks and refrigerators, but no stoves or cooktops. That's where the Ploughman's Lunch comes in. Sandwiches seem to be the choice of most Americans for no-cook food. I am definitely not against sandwiches--cold ones, hot ones. I often crave a plain old deli sandwich from Albertson's or any deli, piled high with cold cuts, pickles, mealy tomatoes. But even more than sandwiches, I love the Ploughman's Lunch. It originates in England, and at its most basic it's a hunk of cheese, some bread, and a pickle. Around here, we have Ploughman's Dinner, too. Pretty often, actually.
Just lay out a big piece of parchment paper in the middle of the table (The Leftoverist travels with parchment. Pathetic.). Then, cheese, bread, crackers, spicy mustard, salami, wedges of pomegranate, Jonagold apples, Taylor Gold pears. You can add nuts, olives, pickled vegetables, hard boiled eggs, bits of chutney or dips, dried fruit. The kids eat a lot more this way, I find, than when I slave over assembling something.
With the autumn light spilling into our little beachside cabin, we played charades and got Wyatt laughing harder than he's laughed in a long time. Is there any better sound than that? These last nine months have been a hard transition for him. There have been several nights when he's cried himself to sleep, missing Yancey and our family dinners, the daily contact they used to have. Wyatt is happiest when we're all together. So am I, and our two days at the windswept beach were beyond precious.
I could go on and on about Washington's newest state park, a 1930's fishing resort that the state bought 17 years ago and just reopened in 2008. Little (cheap!) bungalows right on the beach, trails, beautiful views of the Olympics. What struck me most, though, was the story of the sisters who sold the 450 acres to the state. The resort had fallen into disrepair, guests weren't coming anymore, and they approached the state. They ended up selling it for half its appraised value, and then turned around and donated 4 million dollars for capital improvements. Isn't that incredible? 45o acres, a long perfect stretch of beach, and developers lining up to pay top dollar. During our stay, I kept feeling grateful to them, for their gift to future generations, their foresight and selflessness. And it reminded me of the transformative effect generosity can have. The park felt infused with goodness and hospitality, the history of thousands of working class families recreating and making memories. And the sisters' story made me want to be more generous, not just with money, but with how I give to generations that come after me--indeed, even to the seventh generation. How different the world would be if we lived with them in mind.
In the meantime, I'll be here, hunkered down over my ploughman's lunch.