Friday, July 19, 2013

Phlox and Banana Cake

Today is Sword's birthday. She is fourteen. It is hard to believe. The years have gone by so fast.

We celebrated two days ago, because it was a Wednesday, and Lawrence was available to stay with Bow. We had a sleepover at Orchard House with Sword's best friend. There was swimming  and mall crawling, as well as just hanging out.

And there was cake and ice cream. The cake looked like this:

It was one of those store bought cakes, but of the simplest and most elegant design. On the inside it was white cake, and the frosting was mostly white vanilla, too. It was a little sweet to my taste, but just right for the birthday girl and her friend. They really enjoyed it. And to go with the cake there was chocolate ice cream.

So that was the 17th. Now Lawrence is on his vacation trip to California, and we are at home all day and spend our evenings at Orchard House. On the 30th, Lanie Frick will speak about the development of her artistic process at a special evening event at Orchard House. And then on August 1st our new tenant takes possession of the property.

Yesterday was a quiet day, and I made an interesting floral discovery on my property. I finally found some phlox. I had seen those flowers a few days earlier, but they looked like this because they had not opened yet.

I did not know what they were when I saw them like that. But yesterday, the petals started to open, and I finally made the first tentative connection. This could be phlox!

When the petals have not yet opened, they look a little like a spade sticking out.

But they present a completely different face once they unfold.

 Finally, when they are all bunched up together, the many little flowers seem to form one big one.

I was so happy to discover that I really did have phlox growing on my property. One Facebook friend told me it was called "smooth phlox" and is a Missouri native.

Why is this so important to me? Well, when Sword was only four years old, I wrote a poem for her that started like this:

When Sword goes for walks
In the fields full of phlox
She is always concerned
 That she might meet a fox.
At the time, I had yet to see a Missouri fox wandering around on its own, nor had I spotted any phlox on my property. Now I can say that I've done both -- so my poem is thoroughly accurate and involves Missouri native wildlife and wildflowers.

Of course, at fourteen, Sword is not the right age for that poem anymore. But if you have a four year old, you might want to pick up a copy.

Today, Sword slept late, and I prepared a banana cake for breakfast. I was inspired by Julia Hanna's recipe for banana-strawberry bread, only  I didn't have any strawberries, and I did it the easy way, instead of from scratch.

I have observed that a plain pound cake mix, when you add other ingredients to it, can make almost any cake you can imagine. So I mashed up four overripe bananas and added them to the pound cake mix, in all other respects following the directions on the box, which called for 3/4 cup of milk and two whole eggs.

The cake turned out like this:

After we all had our fill this morning, Sword, Bow and I, the cake looked like this:

It's not a birthday cake, but it's always nice to have some kind of cake on a birthday, even if it's not for a party.  

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