Morning walks are my escape.
Every day, my phone starts playing The Weepies’ “Gotta Have You” around 6:15 a.m., well before the sun makes its way into the day. Moments later, Rachel’s barks echo through the house and to my upstairs bedroom, forcing my body to get vertical, dressed and downstairs within seconds, because otherwise, I’m afraid that one day, my housemate may start to fuss. I certainly would.
Glass of water chugged, teeth brushed and sneakers tied, dog and I are out the door around 6:30. She’s always ready to start her day, to sniff and pull, to chase cats and eat mulch, and to pick up chicken bones that I have to pry out of her strong jaws. Me, I’m awake, but just as my body needs to get its blood flowing again, my mind needs its own exercise.
Few others are out at this time, aside from a few runners, the trash man, and sometimes a few dogs. Cats roam the neighborhood like it’s their kingdom, and the world is slowly starting to waken.
Lately, we’ve been taking a small trail up the hill from the Sunken Road battlefield up to the National Cemetery, a calm place to gather thoughts, and to start the day. (Except don’t tell the National Park Service because there’s a sign that says no dogs allowed, but you all know I’m a responsible dog walker!) Giant, overwhelming, life-changing thoughts linger in my head, and though changes may be aways off, that means months to internally debate the pros and cons of whatever my decision may be. The questions consume my hours, hang over the everyday stories that I’m supposed to be writing (lately, those topics focus on development, trash and utilities). The what-ifs are overwhelming, amplified by the growing demands in the workplace where there’s too much to do, too little time, and not enough focus.
My brain and heart seem to be competing in obstacle courses daily. They’ll suddenly sprint forward without a single loook back, then hesitantly circle around to see what they missed; they’ll hide in holes to avoid any type of problems, then slowly emerge to climb through a jungle gym, airing it all there for the world to witness. With this much exercise, sleeping isn’t a problem at night.
Sunrises give me pause to welcome the day, welcome what’s to come, welcome the unknown.
Fog lifts over the National Cemetery near my home, its departure signifying new beginnings, but lingering with physical memories of the past. Though they separate briefly, it’s not permanent–the fog returns, new opportunities arise, our lessons and the past always part of our being.
And new adventures and new friends greet us.
Like this big guy confined by the cemetery’s tall brick walls. How he got here is unclear, but he’ll keep on going, slow as it may be, to find a new space.
And a coyote, the blurry speck in the distance by the time my phone was in hand, though he was originally much closer as we walked along the cemetery’s ridge. Just as surprised to see me and pup as we were to see him, he’s running off to find his home.
Before summer ends, make your mornings a tad bit better with Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I didn’t take any photos, too impatient to nourish my stomach along with my senses. But do try this recipe, I promise it’ll get your day off to a good start, no long walks, wildlife or overwhelming thoughts required.
Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour (can subsitute 1/2 cup whole wheat, white whole wheat, or oat flours)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 peach, halved and pitted, and very thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch slices)
- maple syrup or honey, to serve
Whisk the egg, sour cream, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder and baking soda. Fold dry ingredients into the wet, mixing until just combined and still a little lumpy.
Heat your skillet or saute pan to medium-low. A cast-iron skillet is my favorite to use for pancakes but if you don’t have one, just use your heaviest skillet for best browning. Melt a pat of butter in the bottom of the pan, and ladle in 1/4 cup batter at a time, leaving at least 2 inches between pancakes. Arrange two peach slices (or more) over the batter. Don’t worry if they are bigger than the batter puddle, because the pancake will spread as it cooks. When the pancakes are dry around the edges and you can see bubbles forming on the top, after about 3 to 4 minutes, get your spatula all the way underneath the pancake-and-peach puddle, and flip it in one quick movement. If any peaches try to slide out from underneath, nudge them back where they belong.
Cook for another 5 minutes, until the pancakes are golden brown on the underside and the peach slices are nicely caramelized. If they’re browning too quickly, lower your heat. Transfer the pancakes to a tray in a warm oven, if desired, which will ensure they fully set and keep them warm until you’re ready to serve them. (Or, eat as you go, my mother’s method for pancakes.) Serve with maple syrup or almond butter or both.
Makes eight 4-inch pancakes, or three breakfasts for one person.