No matter how old I get, how responsible I am or how much work there is to do, I cannot shake the feeling that summer is intended for play, not work. Warm and sunny days are not for being locked up inside, being productive and checking items off a to-do list. July days are more suited to being with friends, going to concerts and the cool mist of a waterfall in the woods. You know, the fun and carefree stuff.
In the summer, my brain goes to work every day. But my heart just isn’t there. In my heart, I’m sitting in the warm sand, listening to the ocean waves. They crash endlessly, but still I never tire of the sound.
Since I’m not a kid, I know I can’t spend the summer with sand in my hair or hiding out in my treehouse. Instead, I do what the rest of the grown-ups do: I go to work. And then I relish the time I do get to spend with the warm sun on my face.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my job. It’s just that it’s… work. It’s not play. And this is summer. So I get my work done. I do the best job I can possibly do. And then I grab the hands of my children and run outside.
We’ve been lucky enough to have plenty of play time to balance out our work this summer. Elliot and I floated in a raft on a cool lake together, watching the clouds. Zoe walked to the farmers market with me, arm linked in mine, talking all the way. And Lucy, she and I painted our toenails together on our back deck. Not exactly high adventure. But time spent together.
And then, there’s Paul. I love goofing off with my kids. It’s what you’re supposed to do with them. But loafing with my husband in the summer is special. We don’t get to do it very often. It all goes back to the work thing.
A few weeks ago, the outlook for work and play changed when Paul’s mother came to our house, picked up all three children, and headed to Rhode Island for a week. Yes, a week. Paul and I were so excited about this time we would spend together that in the days leading up the pickup, we would walk past each other and high five. Or just smile big, goofy grins. We both knew what the other was thinking. We were counting down the days till we would be alone.
They left without even a backwards glance. In truth, so did we. The first day, he and I drove to Lake Placid. We ate. We hiked. The vista from the top of the mountain was beautiful. I knew my kids would have loved it. But I was happy to be solely in the company of my husband.
From Lake Placid we took a ferry to Burlington. The water was peaceful and the wind blew our hair as the sun set over the Adirondack mountains. After docking, we walked and walked through the city. It was one of those rare times when Paul walked into dress shops with me. He sat and waited while I tried on a dress, a pair of shoes, a scarf.
We made phone calls to Rhode Island. Kids were doing what they should do in the summer: playing, swimming, being outside. They didn’t miss us at all.
Back at home, we still had five days and no children. We rolled up our sleeves, buried ourselves in work by day, and arrived home exhausted. With no children to care for, we had time to exercise, have cocktails on the porch and read. We entertained the idea of having a party but the quiet was so nice, we didn’t want to spoil it.
So despite the season, we continued to work. Our dinners were late. Paul and I carried our plates to the front porch to eat our simple suppers: a piece of fish or chicken, a salad, maybe a piece of corn.
It’s hard to admit but I didn’t miss my kids until the end of the week. We were all so happy, them basking on the Rhode Island beach and us, at home, working and playing when the work was done.
On Saturday, they came tumbling back in our door: loud, messy, wonderful children. The quiet and tidy house was gone. With them, summer was back. Paul and I had a lovely holiday. But what’s summer without kids? Yes, we endure work. We do it so that at the end of the day, we can play with our children. It’s what summer is for.
Elliot brought back his sweet boy energy, with him his Legos and his bicycle. Zoe entered the house mid-sentence, continued talking and hasn’t stopped since. Lucy, she watched over her younger siblings while they were away. She called to proudly announce that Elliot had eaten a salad. She stayed close to him in the ocean. And she came back asking to cook these salmon burgers. It was something ordered in a restaurant. Lucy can be persistent. She sent me texts until I shopped for the ingredients.
Part of enjoying summer, of having a leisurely and enjoyable season, is the food we eat. Lucy’s burgers, with a big green salad, are a tasty and light summer meal. It’s healthy, delicious food. Your brain will tell you to make these easy and delicious burgers for your family. Then, you can listen to your heart and get back to the good stuff: the ocean waves, the beautiful sunsets and floating in rafts while looking at clouds in the blue summer sky.
Lucy’s Salmon Burgers
2 lbs wild salmon
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
1 t. sea salt
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 T. hoisin sauce (found in the Asian section of the grocery)
2 green onions, trimmed and chopped
wasabi mayonnaise: 1/2 c. mayonnaise combined with 1 t. wasabi paste or powder (found in the Asian section). Taste and add more wasabi if desired.
canola oil, for the grill
Lettuce, tomatoes, buns
Peel the skin from the fish and cut into 1″ cubes. Place in a food processor with the other ingredients and pulse until well combined. Be careful not to turn the fish into a paste. Form the salmon into 5-6 burgers, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Heat a grill to medium. Coat the grates with oil using tongs and a paper towel. Carefully place the burgers on the grill. Cook for 4 minutes, flip and cook for 4 more.
Serve the burgers on buns with the wasabi mayonnaise. Any leftover burgers are really nice on salad greens the next day.