For Mother’s Day I headed down to the Cape for a quick visit with Mom and the sea. I feel pretty fortunate that Mom relocated on the Cape a few years ago so I can zoom down for a few hours to escape the city and then zoom back up again.
The lilac bush behind her old Cape house was in full bloom, the first time I’ve seen it. Mom told me I should take back as many blossoms as I wanted. This is pure joy for me, being a city dweller. The lilac display in the arboretum is just a couple of blocks from my apartment and I can go sniff them anytime I want but to pick them would be criminal. So I settle for paying way too much for fresh, cut flowers at Whole Foods. Driving down to the Cape means I can have my pick of whatever Mom’s garden is offering.
I arrived with a hydrangea bush and a couple of paperbacks, good for beach reading. Mom has two great loves: Gardening and books. As long as her house has enough room for all of her books and as long as her back garden is big enough to dig around in, she is happy. If for any reason a Christmas or Mother’s Day goes by without a new book for Mom, we hear about it. “That was a lovely holiday,” she’ll say, “but I didn’t get any new books.”
We walked along the beach after lunch. It was a blustery day and the clouds were racing across the sky. The sun broke through occasionally and lit the shore ripples with sparkles.
We searched for unbroken scallop shells and studied the horseshoe crabs. These are remarkable, prehistoric creatures, older than dinosaurs. They look military in their fierce shells with their spiky long tails. And they have 10 eyes!
Once, we encountered dozens of the empty crab shells on the beach. Mom thought at first there had been some kind of watery genocide until we learned more about them. Horseshoe crabs molt at least once year, throwing off their old shells so they can grow bigger. “That’s like me,” Mom had remarked. She had just retired from her teaching job and was having to “throw off” a lot of her stuff so she could relocate to the smaller house on the Cape full time.
It’s like all of us, really. We all need to let go of our hardened armor every now then so we can grow.
Mom has developed a kind of affinity for these tough, ancient sea beings. She collects their shells to scatter around her garden as points of interest (or points of terror, if you are a lettuce-seeking bunny rabbit).
Back at the house, I loaded up my car with lilac boughs (everyone should do this at least once. The scent is amazing!). Mom, of course, loaded me up with a basket of goodies in case I should perish with hunger in the 1 1/2 hours drive back up to the city.
The basket included two very ripe bananas. And so, yes, banana bread needed to be made once I got home. I scouted around a bit trying to find a recipe that I liked when I discovered that most call for 3 or 4 bananas and cinnamon (I was out). So I winged it. Work with what you have, I say, and hope for the best.
The smell of lilacs mingling with the aroma of banana bread baking as a fresh, spring breeze drifts in through the window simply can’t be beat.
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon all spice
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan.
Mash bananas. In a separate bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add bananas.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and all spice. Add to the the butter and sugar mixture, combine well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.