Old Bananas, New Nest

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This week exhaustion finds rest in my bones, for good reason, and with internal excitement.   Reflections and shadows introduce a new story, a new home, and a new life.  Days are documented in numbers of trips to the big girl potty, and dishes washed by hand. Every. Single. One.  Time swells, runs and hides inside our new walls.  It has been this way all along, and yet everything feels brand new.  Creaky floors, natural light, and old smells, tell stories from the lives that once lived here.  Yet, I can still see a blank canvas, and feel plenty of new space for us, and the wildly ambitious unknown.

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Days without the Internet make room for my own real life to surge back through my veins.  I feel collected, and alive.  I have time, and space to rummage, and remember.  I have time to create.

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Dance classes fill my inquiries with complex questions, and translucent, floating answers.  For just one night a week I forget I am a wife, and a mother, yet those identities dwell inside every last breath of my movement.  I pedal home with a backpack and lazy bun, affirming that in just this one instance, place is nothing, while instinct and necessity are everything.  From coast to coast, and even in the middle of nowhere, a life long mover I am, and always will be.  I rest well in this acknowledgment.

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This week in moving I find boxes of old Polaroid’s, love letters, and journals.  I pause, and reflect honestly on the distance between then, and now.  I find the tiny box that held my time capsule ring, from Vienna, and the receipt that says I did in fact, travel thousands of miles back, without an address, only my photographic memory, to exchange my dated ring for another.  The receipt is marked 10.10.08…a date of anticipation, a date of pure magic, a date I wore on my finger for years.

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I realize that if not for moving, this would be my first October 10th, without celebrating, or at least, even just remembering.  How could I ever forget?  I promised I would never forget.  I find a box with no ring, and devastation swells.  I forget that it was lost, ironically the same week I got married, as if to say, I gladly trade in one story, for another.  But now there is nothing tangible to tell that epic story, there are only my memories, and details that I am slowly forgetting.

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Octave sits beside me, and I whisper, June 7th, I can’t believe I never went.  My heart hurts for a few minutes, but life is not a fairytale, it is crazymessybeautiful.  I feel instant relief because I don’t have to use words to make myself feel better.  Truly, I have no regrets.  I married the man I never thought existed, and because of that we made the most curious, spicy, and vivacious little human imaginable.  I have all I could ever want.  And maybe something special is still bound to happen on that day, it may just be a few years late.

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Maybe this June, I will trade in that date for something.  Or perhaps the letting go of that ring, and that return, was indeed a metaphor for choices in life.  Maybe my life became most meaningful when I had to start making choices, and sacrifices that have hardly felt like sacrifices at all.

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After toiling over what to bake first in our new nest, I choose banana bread.  The bananas are old, but there is so much new.  It seems simple, classic, and a humble way to be introduced to my new kitchen.  It says welcome home, stay a while, eat three pieces of me, (with lots of butter!)  Baked goods speak to me, and so I speak back in foodie love, eating them with the upmost gratitude, and adoration.  So, here is to something classic, in the midst of everything new.

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Browned Butter Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1 ½ cups spelt flour, all purpose works too

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

***

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and browned

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

1  1/2 cups of very ripe mashed banana (2-3 bananas depending on size)

½ cup whole milk plain greek yogurt

½ cup walnut pieces+ a small handful more for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter until it is crackling and slightly brown. Remove from heat, and stir in brown sugar until it is combined.  It will be really thick and sticky.

In a large bowl combine mashed banana, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, browned butter/sugar and  whisk well.

Slowly add in dry ingredients, and whisk until combined.  Gently fold in the walnuts.

Grease your loaf pan with butter and pour in batter.  Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.  Remove from pan, slice and serve with butter.

Update: The baking time has changed dramatically depending on where I have used this recipe.  I have found being at sea level requires more time, while at high altitude it has needed much less.  Check your oven frequently and know that you may need to place foil over the top of your bread if your climate requires a longer bake time.

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