Everything felt beautiful today.
We spent the morning easily, comfortable in knowing that we didn’t have to be anywhere. Days like these feel rare, but maybe it’s in part that we so rarely take advantage of them. After breakfast and a load of dishes, we grabbed the books that we’ve each been reading and walked out to the park. The sun was bright, casting a warm white light, the sky a clear and even blue. Last night’s thunderstorms had wrung the humidity from the air–this is what summer should always feel like.
I half expected the park to be teeming with people, but it was instead quite comfortably populated, as though the energy in the air had summoned the perfect number of guests. We found an empty bench by the river, shaded by a large, drooping willow tree. I settled in, resting my head on Chris’ lap and we lost ourselves in reading.
When we grew cold in the shade, we moved into the sun. I finished my book first, and proceeded to do something that I don’t often do. I sat, unconcerned with the time, and enjoyed being. I watched the tall grasses that grow near the river blowing gently in the breeze, looking tender and shiny and waxen, like strands of hair in a Wyeth painting. Occasionally, a speedboat or wave runner would rip through the water and break the calm with an energetic, summery burst of enthusiasm. I felt content and complete, my skin warming, body relaxing. I watched Chris studying the last few pages of his book. The sun shimmered through his hair, causing the very subtle red tones to gleam and streaking the black with threads of blue-white light. I couldn’t remember a time when I’d felt such peace.
As Chris closed his book and we started for home, I knew exactly what I would make for lunch. It would be as clean and simple and fresh as the day had already been. It would feed us both and carry us on through this wonderfully mellow afternoon.
Red Quinoa & Chickpea Salad
1 cup uncooked red quinoa
1 19 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup green, pimento stuffed olives, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Prepare the quinoa according to package directions, adding the whole sprigs of rosemary at the beginning and allowing them to simmer with the quinoa, infusing it with flavor. Remove the rosemary and transfer the prepared quinoa to a large bowl.
Toss the chickpeas, olives, and pine nuts with the quinoa. This salad can be served warm or cold. If serving cold, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt will help to wake up the flavors a bit, but it is perfectly delicious as is.
I also recreated the stone fruit and berry salad that I’d served during Nilla’s birthday brunch. There was such simplicity in these two dishes, yet such beauty, such joy. I just adored the juxtaposition of the grounded, earthy quinoa salad alongside that big bowl of floral, flirtatious fruit.
Isn’t it wonderful when dozens of small things become beautiful all at once, in one small afternoon?