I am having a hard time writing today. I keep looking at this picture from our trip two weeks ago and wishing I could be outside. I've been having this kind of mental itch at work whenever I look out the window that somehow I'm doing something wrong since I'm IN HERE and not OUT THERE. I usually have to walk to another building whenever I have a meeting, and this morning it was all I could do not to detour to the little patch of slanted grass west of my office and take a tiny snooze in the sun. Lucca has been scratching at the door in the mornings to go outside and lay on the deck where he'll do this twisty stretch on his back and stick his legs out in all directions and fall asleep soaking up the warmth and the light. I am very happy that he's so happy, but it is awfully hard to walk past someone who looks like that on your way to work and not feel insanely jealous. Even if that someone is a dog.
When did it become normal for us to sit at desks all day? When did we start trying to build spaces for ourselves to work that shut us off from nature and light and people? When did we create tasks for ourselves that mean everything and nothing? How long do we go between experiencing things that are real and good and make us (really madly truly) happy? How do we support each other and encourage each other to take a moment each day to breathe and soak in the sun?
When the voices in our heads started shouting those questions too loudly, we packed four people, two dogs, and some climbing gear into our car and drove due East into the Uintas. It was a spur-of-the-moment trip, and we left later than we would have liked, but we needed trees and air and space. Lucca was beside himself with happiness when we finally stopped the car and began hiking toward the crag. He made his big toothy shark face and rolled himself around in the brush and made his drowning cat noises (which are very harsh and grating but also some of my favorite sounds in the world). We climbed just a little, hiked a lot, camped at the end of a long, unmarked road, ate wild raspberries and burritos and campfire peach and blackberry cobbler, and fell asleep listening to the rain on our tent.
We're waiting for the next time we can escape, but in the meantime we're celebrating being at home by eating the season and eating well. Our tomatoes have finally begun to blush purple and red, and the chickens have been so distracted by the goji berry and fat grasshoppers that we've rescued most of the tomatoes before they've been discovered. We eat them like apples, on sandwiches, or in this salad.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD WITH LATE-SUMMER PEACHES
1-2 pounds of mixed heirloom tomatoes 2-3 large ripe, yellow peaches 2-3 large handfuls mixed greens 1/2 pound mozzarella or burrata cheese, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices olive oil balsamic vinegar flaky salt freshly ground black pepper 8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade (stack the leaves and then roll them like a cigarette and thinly slice them cross-wise into ribbons)
Have two plates ready for serving individual portions of salad.
Cut the tomatoes into a mixture of wedges and 1/2-inch thick slices and set aside. Slice the peaches in half and remove the pits. Cut each half into 4-6 wedges and set aside.
Distribute 1/3 of the tomato wedges and slices on each of the plates, then distribute 1/3 of the peach wedges onto the tomatoes. Divide the greens evenly between the two plates, covering the tomatoes and peaches. Scatter the remaining tomato wedges (reserve the tomato slices) and peach wedges over the greens. Place a tomato slice on each of the salads, then overlap with a slice of mozzarella, repeating until all of the slices have been used.
Drizzle the salad with as much olive oil and balsamic vinegar as you like, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the basil chiffonade and serve immediately.