Black Rice & Passionfruit Salad

Morning finds her curled like a prawn
Around a stuffed blue Pegasus, or the smallest
Prawn-pink lion. Or else she’s barging
Into my room, and leaning in close so
It’s her hair I wake to — that coarse, dark
Heaven of knots and purple fluff.

She wants a movie, or maybe
Just the tussle of her will against mine,
That scrape and crack. Horn on rock. Rope
Relenting one fiber at a time. ‘I want that,’ she says,
Punctuating what she just said she wanted.

– from ‘4½’ by Tracy K. Smith

Neither of our children are four-and-a-half. T has only just turned four, and W is almost six. I remember when they were babies, both of them perpetually curled into me – their tiny hands and translucent half-moon fingernails. Everything smelt of breastmilk and sweat and the coconut oil that we rubbed onto their fat thighs and soft bellies. At night I would roll over and there was always a baby there, eyelids flickering, and what could they be dreaming of?  Continue reading “Black Rice & Passionfruit Salad”

Blistered Summer Salad

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Do you remember how great summer holidays were as a kid? A seemingly endless expanse of time when the daily routine of school-homework-weekends was suspended in a glut of play. I don’t remember the specifics of summer holidays but I do remember the rhythms. Cricket, of course – on the radio, on the television – accompanied by backyard cricket . We used an old wicker basket in place of stumps and stray balls routinely smashed the back windows. I wasn’t actually much of a player myself, so was regularly sent on runs up the bad-tempered neighbours driveway to rescue lost balls. Summer barbecues, swimming in friends’ pools, camping by the beach, icy poles, late nights.  Continue reading “Blistered Summer Salad”

Charred Broccolini

I’m still asleep
but you know I will wake
if you need

– from ‘Wangal Morning’, Evelyn Araluen

It’s been a wet spring here in Narrm/Melbourne. The sound of the rain on our deck woke me up from a deep sleep sometime in the early hours of the morning. I’d been dreaming of oceans and bridges and artworks and I lay awake for ages in the still-dark, listening to my kids breathing in the other room and the wind rattling our doorframe.  Continue reading “Charred Broccolini”

Roasted Cauliflower & Beetroot Salad with Rosewater Dressing

I bend to it willingly, this patch
of earth and its green things, in their own world
(though I hold the title to it) hungry for life…”
– from ‘After’ by David Malouf

We planted daffodil bulbs yesterday, the kids and I. Fingers in dirt, carefully. Now we water, and wait for them to bloom, a slash of the brightest yellow across these winter skies. Continue reading “Roasted Cauliflower & Beetroot Salad with Rosewater Dressing”

Japanese-Style Mushroom Broth

“There is not city
But the city within.

No door, but the door
To simple wisdom.

We walk, dumb
As newborns.

Into the tremendous and endless
Blessing.”

– from ‘The Hinge’ by Cynthia Cruz

Last night was sweltering, the heat of the day barely letting up. And despite their exhaustion, the kids weren’t interested in sleeping. Too hot perhaps, too sticky. After kissing them goodnight, we could hear giggles and hushed voices from their bedroom. W had climbed into T’s bed and they were laughing, telling each other stories, grabbing toys and reading. Even through my frustration at their refusal to go to damn sleep, I was warmed by their closeness, aware that those stolen moments away from a parent’s prying eyes are the excitement of childhood.

Continue reading “Japanese-Style Mushroom Broth”

Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Something woke me, something
feathered up against me in a dream.
Perhaps its soft tip of wing skipped
across my face…”

– from ‘Butterfly Kisses’, Ian McBryde

We have a Saturday morning family ritual. We wake up early, the kids tumbling into our bed for cuddles and giggles, burrowing deep under the blankets to ward off the Melbourne-morning chill. Usually around the time one of us receives an accidental knee to the groin, or elbow in the eye, we get up, throw our clothes on, and head over to Victoria Market for our weekly shopping.  Continue reading “Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower Salad”

Coconut Turmeric Noodles

“…balance of humors, coconut liquor thinned / by broth, sour pulp of tamarind / cut through by salt, set off by fragrant / galangal, ginger, basil, cilantro, mint, / the warp and woof of texture…”

– from ‘Hot’ by Craig Arnold

Lately, both kids have been climbing into our bed at various points through the night, so by the morning all four of us are squeezed in together. We’re not sure if it’s these cold winter nights that have them seeking extra body warmth, or just that natural childish desire to be close, but either way it is a habit that is equally parts endearing and exasperating (much like parenting more generally, in fact).  Continue reading “Coconut Turmeric Noodles”