I am approaching Monday with some anxiety and apprehension. Father, College Kritter, and I are getting on a plane to San Francisco at dawn. Nina will stay in Berkeley, of course, and Father and I are coming back on Wednesday. If only the rain gods would look upon us mercifully and refrain from the showers for a couple of days, I would be eternally grateful.
I do not like the look of suitcases lying open on my living room floor. It most likely means that someone I love is leaving. To accommodate my schedule, I will say another Good-Bye to my daughter five days before school starts. How many times in those five days will I miss her jumping on my bed and inviting me to see a movie with her? How many times will I pretend to hear her drawn-out “Maaah-maaah” coming from the kitchen, where she is looking for an ingredient that usually stares her in the face? I will not count.
In the two weeks we spent together, I got used to having her around. She is often a child herself, taunting her younger sisters and chasing them around the apartment, leaving her clothes everywhere but in the hamper, making a mess with her “morning” banana-strawberry yogurt smoothie around 1 p.m., and organizing the “Star Wars” or “Harry Potter” marathons. She makes me watch the seven episodes of “Jeopardy!” that I missed, and convinces me to take her shopping for boots after work, when all I want to do is curl up on the couch and stay motionless. She lies next to me in bed at night and starts a philosophical conversation, and all I can do is stare at her cross-eyed and say “Wha?”
I look at her when she sleeps and in the face of this young woman I see the many faces of my little girl: The mischievous toddler who poured a jar of honey on Father’s head while he was taking a nap; A kindergartener who refused to eat “the weird ground meat in a weird kind of bread” (she adores tacos now!), while beating her daycare teacher in the game of Mancala; a curly-haired girl dancing an Irish jig in the middle of the class for Lee, the little boy she liked in first grade, while her teacher stared unbelieving; a fourth grader working on a patent for a portable, computerized dry-erase board in her gifted and talented class; a teen obsessively playing the Math 24 game and helping her team win in seventh grade; a proud eighth grader attending her first formal dance, completely oblivious of her beauty, dressed as Eowyn from Lord of the Rings in a white silk-satin dress I made, as she requested; a high schooler crying at the dining room table after getting an F in Honors Chemistry (her first tears since watching The Titanic and realizing that the captain who so resembled Santa Claus, would die with the ship); an excited sixteen year old getting in the car with her first boyfriend and learning to parallel park; And then a daughter ready to conquer the world, reading to me the acceptance e-mail from UC Berkeley.
All those Ninas, small and big, still live within her. And each one is a part of me. I had to work the evening before our flight and she took over the kitchen with the confidence and creativity that have come to be her hallmark. She prepared a delicious chicken curry and the flavor of it was unlike anything because it tasted like 19 years of smiles and tears and laughter and wonder.
Who is this woman child who has become my best friend? What wonders wait within her as her potential staggers and boggles my mind? I don’t know. But I am so enjoying finding out.
SAFFRON RICE WITH CARROTS
I made the rice to accompany Nina’s curry, and it was perfect, with raisins adding just enough sweetness to counterbalance the spice in curry.
- several strands of saffron
- 2 Tbso olive oil
- ½ large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots shredded or julienned
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice
- 3 cups water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
- salt, pepper
- ½ cup golden raisins
Soak the saffron in a small amount of hot water. In the meantime, sautÃ© onions and garlic until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the carrots and rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the water or chicken stock and add the raisins. Heat to boil, turn the temperature to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until done. Fluff with the fork and serve.
I am sending this dish to Making It with….Mondays hosted by Sue of Couscous and Consciousness, Hearth and Soul, hosted by Heather of Girliechef, and Full PlateThursday, hosted by Miz Helen from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.