The most amazing thing has happened. And even though, for eight and a half months I knew it was inevitable, it was going to happen, nothing could have prepared me for that exact moment when it did. The moment Emerson was born. The moment I became a Mom.

I'm not sure that I'm one of those people who always knew I would be a mom some day, or dreamed my whole life of having a baby. To tell you the truth, it was never something that was all that important to me until it was. And that was not all that long ago. And now there is absolutely nothing that is more important. Not even close.

Though it's been just four short/long/short weeks since Emerson was born, one minute it feels like yesterday and I'm lost without a clue, the next it's like I've been doing this, like I've known her forever. Time has never expanded and contracted at this level for me before. And don't even get me started on the hormonal scatting my body has been performing. I was recently talking casually about the weather or some such thing with Fred as tears streamed down my face for seemingly no reason at all. Pay no attention to any tears you see. Unless, of course, you disregard the wrong tears. The real tears. How dare you be so glib about how I'm feeling – what I'm going through?! I don't understand. Everything's changed!*

I constantly vacillate between “What am I doing?” and “I got this.”

Regardless of the tears, legitimate or absurd, and whatever side of confidence I happen to be on at any given moment, every droplet of me knows I have never loved anything like I love this little person. And every part of me knows that I will do anything and everything I possibly can to keep her safe and happy for as long as I live. That yes, everything's changed.* And that I would not want it any other way.

That alone is enough to put someone through a ricochet of emotions from pure, ethereal bliss to sheer, paralyzing fear. And don't even get me started on the hormones... again.

Fred says I'm like a shark; I must constantly be moving and doing. He's right. Though I have spent countless still and quiet hours just staring at Emerson in awe, disbelief and appreciation, it has been a challenge to be so motionless in all of the exterior elements of my life. Work, friends, chores, errands, cleaning, reading, emailing, crosswording, gardening, phone calling, self-grooming, cooking and writing have all had to be put in the back seat. (I do pat myself on the back for being timely and up to date with thank-you cards. I am a good southern girl, after all.)

I have learned am learning to stop, let go and rely on the kindness of family, friends and neighbors - and have been overwhelmed to the point of tears (of course) by all of the thoughtfulness, selflessness and generosity (and food!) that have poured in for me and my family (family!!). Fred who has continued to do so, so much – has added witnessing his partner in life morph into Sybil meets The Excorsist... and still manages to say I'm beautiful and strong and that he loves me (#keeper).

The other day we decided it was time to do 'something normal.' You know, like cook something new and fun and take pictures of it, normal. I was pretty sure I wanted to play with this extraordinary, ginormous burgundy okra we have growing in our garden. Considering I haven't done much of it, pickling was the obvious choice. On the weekend before the okra pickling was to take place, Paz came over for a practice session. We used squash, cucumber and red onion (also from my garden) to make a bread and butter pickle in addition to a standard dill pickle. They turned out pretty great with a couple of little tweaks I would make the next time – like peel the squash.

With my new pickling confidence, I began to think about the okra and what exactly I wanted to do with it. It occurred to me that I had recently had some pretty memorably delicious pickles prepared by Travis Milton, chef de cuisine at Comfort here in Richmond. Coming from rural Southwestern Virginia with the culture of Appalachian food, Chef Milton is known for preserving and furthering the foodways of his old stomping ground and is heavily involved with the Central Appalachian Food Heritage Project, and the Appalachian Community Table. He was even featured in the most recent issue of Garden & Gun Magazine for his Cast-Iron Green Tomato Pie.

So I emailed him and got his Grandmother's recipe for pickled okra. Booya!

Being back home in Richmond has not only brought me back to my mom and dad, but also the other people that I call family. One of these people who I am so grateful to have back in my life is Mary. Mary is Sam's mom and she is family to me. Her house is one I know very well - one overflowing with wonderful, euphoric memories of youth. Now I can add to that a recent Christmas Eve filled with just everyone, a beautiful ladies lunch (just the two of us), an al fresco early Summer dinner in the yard with friends of Sam near and far and new memories we are adding all the time. Speaking of new memories, Mary is pretty excited about little Emerson, too. Oh, and Mary also has one of my all-time favorite kitchens. 

So Fred, Emerson and I packed up our okra fixings, camera equipment and diaper bag and headed to Mary's house for the afternoon. While I pickled, Fred photographed and Mary happily looked after Emerson (though I did find myself scurrying out of the kitchen to peek in on my baby every so often). In a way, I think Mary, Fred and I all got to do something that felt kind of normal. Comfortable. Happy.

But as a thank you for the use of her kitchen and for looking after Emerson, we left the pickled okra in Mary's fridge. Maybe for her to enjoy – or maybe we'd find it there on the next visit, for us all to snack on together.**

Look at me, I so got this.

*A favorite line from Raising Arizona (among so very many).

**Mary ate the okra the next day and said it was delicious!

Pickled Burgundy Okra
(Recipe by Chef Travis Milton)

Okra is one of my favorite things to pickle or can, as it's insanely simple. A lot of people try to over complicate it with different ways to get rid of the "snot", I don't bother with any of those methods and it always comes out great. With burgundy okra you will loose some of the color in the pods, but it will color the vinegar nicely.” -Chef Milton

5 pounds of okra, trimmed at the cap
2 red cayenne peppers, de-seeded and sliced into thin rings
1 1/2 Tablespoon dried dill
6 cups of apple cider vinegar
1 cup chardonnay
1 1/2 cups water
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 heads of garlic cloves (about 20 cloves) sliced thin
2 Tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard (By mustard I mean just straight up yellow mustard. It may sound weird, but its something my great grandmother did.)
3 Tablespoons black peppercorns

Place okra in a large metal mixing bowl.

Bring all the other ingredients to a boil and pour over okra. Let the okra sit for 45 minutes.

Pack in Mason jars and cover with liquid up to 1 1/2 inches below the lip of the jar.

Process or not at this point.

Printable recipe.

One year ago: Fried Green Tomato Benedict with Smithfield Ham & Pimiento Cheese Hollandaise
Two years ago: Anuradha Rice
Three years ago: Yerp: Part 7 - The End.
Four years ago: Great Balls on Tires
Five years ago: For the love of TOMATOES!

No comments:

Post a Comment