We pulled up on to the gravel path of the deserted gas station and as I stepped out of the car, stretching after the long ride, the pebbles crunched under my shoes. It was dark. The only light coming from an old, dusty lamp above illuminated a shanty looking shed with a bedraggled sign above it. The moth bouncing off the lamp, wings fluttering in haste, caught my attention for a minute.
I took a few steps then turned around as if to make sure they were still there before I ventured into the dark. Soeren looked peaceful, eyes shut, safe in his make believe dream-world. Safe from the harsh truth of reality. Tom was staring out of the window, his usual sturdy and proud posture drooped, his silhouette looking meek and tired. With a heavy heart I walked towards the shed. The door creaked loudly as I opened it and the bells above announced my arrival to who ever had the graveyard shift. It was a makeshift looking shop offering the usual ware a gas station shop would offer.
A chair scraped against the wooden floor in a room behind the counter and as the person shuffled and heaved into the room I quickly tried to pull myself together and put on the brightest smile I could muster.
I walked out of the shed again, clutching the brown manila envelop tightly against my chest. Getting back into the car I waved it towards Tom with a slight smile on my face, feeling relieved we had managed to get this far. Just a few more minutes, a few more meters and we could finally rest, finally begin to repair some of the damage. Tom punched the address into the navigation system and as it calculated the route, I tried to make out the faint outlines in the horizon. But my eyes were heavy and my shoulders were feeling the weight of the past few months. All I wanted to do was sleep - endlessly sleep.
Soeren stirred a little in the backseat "Are we there yet?" Both Tom and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. We laughed loudly. Before Soeren came into the world Tom and I would discuss that if we ever had kids the first thing we had to teach them was not to say "Are we there yet?". We love road trips and have spent many great vacations traveling the roads of Europe, from Spain to Greece, from Italy to Denmark. Both of us even re-discovered the West Coast on our first vacation to the US together. It was vital to us that our child be just the kind of travel fanatic we were and enjoy each element of the journey true to the German saying "Der Weg ist das Ziel" - the journey is the destination!
It was good to laugh. We hadn't for a long time.
It was a feeling of anxiety and excitement that encased me as I opened the door to the cottage. My senses were playing crazy. I inhaled the salty air, my cheeks tingled as the gentle breeze caressed them and each time I heard the splashing of water against the shores my heart skipped just a little more. Inside, it was slightly musty and the air was stuffy. As Tom began bringing the suitcases inside, I opened the brown wooden shutters, worn from years of use. The distinctive smell of paint wafting into my nostrils told me they had been recently re-painted. I did not have time to really register what was beyond the windows, just my senses telling me there was plenty to discover come morning. I quickly made up the bed for Soeren in his temporary room for the next 14 days, while Tom undressed him. Eyes half shut, I think he hardly registered anything. With Soeren in bed I made up our beds and simply collapsed on it. Staring at the white wooden ceiling, the monotone sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks beckoned me into a doze.
Jerked out of it by the sound of the T.V. I forced myself up, my body begging me to snuggle deeper into the mattress, and followed the babbling into the living room. Tom held a glass of wine in his hand and pointed to one on the table with the other. "We're here!" he announced.
Yes we were. We had left everything behind just as it was and fled. Taken only a few belongings, packed the car and drove away. The boxes still packed cluttered the house but that was not an issue anymore. Ten hours later we were here. We had run away. We are not the type to run away - but we did this time. We had to.
The next morning I was awakened early by the unusual sounds. It took me a moment to focus and remember I was in a new bed with new surroundings. Then I remembered - the waves, the salty air, and quietly got out of bed tiptoeing into the kitchen. The house was still and as the first rays of light danced their way into the conservatory I gasped at the view beyond it. Grabbing the blanket from the armchair I walked out barefooted into the garden, green from the summers warmth and moist from the morning dew.
Not a single ripple broke the mirror-like surface of the fjord. The orange sky reflected off the liquid mirror with such clarity I felt as if I was in two heavens. The water itself was a kaleidoscope of colors, blue, purple and orange. Walking through the iron gates, I twitched as I felt the hard pebbles under my feet. But I walked on and as my toes dipped into the cool water I felt some of the turmoil inside me wash away.
I do not know how long I stood there in my pajamas, looking into the horizon and standing with my feet in the waters of this Danish fjord, but soon I felt Tom's presence next to me. He offered me a big hot mug of a caramel-y, smoky cup of brown goodness. I looked up to him and smiled.
"We're going to be OK!" he said and took me into his arms cradling my head on his muscular chest - I thought "My net - always catches me when I fall!"
Yes we were going to be OK and this was the first step towards the healing process. We rejoice with the good times and become stronger with the bad times. This was going to make us stronger. Stronger to unpack the boxes we left behind and pick up where we left off.
The two weeks were spent mostly laughing - the remedy to heal every wound, some crying and a lot of love. The three of us enjoyed picnics by the fjord, bike tours, sailing, island hopping, visits to museums and good food. Each day we felt stronger and better. It would take time to bounce back again, I knew that but I also knew we would manage it.
Sweet crumbles have been on my mind lately. As the Farmer's Market fill up with delicious fruits my choice for this particular creation fell on sweet mangoes and tangy rhubarb. The topping combines the nutty flavors of pistachios and earthy aromas of the buckwheat flour with an added highlight of crushed Amaretti biscuits. I spice it up with a touch of ginger and cinnamon for the extra warmth.
Rhubarb Mango Pistachio and Amaretti Crumbles
Printable version of recipe here
For the fruit
45og rhubarb, cut into 1 cm pieces
2 mangoes, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon muscovado sugar
small piece ginger, finely grated
For the topping
170g buckwheat flour
handful of Amaretti biscuits, coarsely crushed
85g cold butter, cubes
85g muscovado sugar
85g pistachios, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of fleur de sel
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly butter 6 individual ramekin bowls.
- Make the topping first by putting all the ingredients into a large bowl and using your fingertips rub the butter into the dry ingredients to form a few small chunks of mixture very resembling coarse breadcrumbs. Place this mixture in the freezer while you prepare the fruit.
- Put the rhubarb slices in a saucepan with the sugar and 4 tbsp water. Cook over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes until the rhubarb just begins to become slightly tender but is still crunchy. It will cook further in the oven. Remove from the heat and stir in the mangoes and stem ginger. Spoon the mixture into the ramekin forms.
- Take the crumble topping from the freezer and with your fingertips sprinkle the topping over the forms. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and the fruit is hot and bubbling.
- Serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
An explosive burst of flavors - the mangoes, rhubarb paired with the ginger offers the perfect combination of sweet, tangy and warmth. The crumbly and crunchy topping adds a new texture and set of flavors giving it body. We enjoyed this warm with scoops of bourbon vanilla ice cream, feet up and reminiscing about our travels and road trips - laughing, joking and positively healed!
You might like these warming dessert ideas from WFLH:
|Baked Vanilla Infused Peach Risotto||Clafoutis - Gooseberry Red Current & Blueberry||Clafoutis - Raspberry and Nectarine|
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