And here they are, in random order. And with the requisite amount of anxiety that these are not necessarily my ten very favorite things. I will try not to make them all about food.
1. Fall: If there is cider, a pumpkin, gourds, Indian corn, or any variety of hay-related fun (see: mazes, rides) to be had, I am there. With bells on. During college I was once invited to a professor's home for dinner on a chilly November evening. His wife was a potter, and we were served individual pumpkin custards in handmade ramekins. I almost wept with joy.
2. The post-beach shower: In the panoply of human sensation, I would argue that there are few that can top this one. Not the shower itself, necessarily, but the way you feel when it's over. I love the way you go from being sand-caked and sticky with sunscreen and slightly sweaty to having your skin feel taut and smooth and warm in that gorgeous sun-drenched way. I love the way your hair feels wet and cool and sweet-smelling. As a corollary, I love emerging from the post-beach shower and putting on a soft cotton tee shirt and old jeans.
3. Cheap flowers: The salary at my very first job was $21,500. And that was just last year. OK, not really. But suffice it to say I've had...lean times. Yet even during the very leanest, I've always let myself splurge on the $5 bouquet from the farmer's market or grocery store. They literally make me happier every time I look at them, especially the fall ones with
4. Savory/sweet mashups: I like to mix it up. One of my favorite appetizers is prosciutto and parmesan cheese wrapped around a dried fig and drizzled with olive oil. I make a mean Cuban picadillo, a spicy beef chili seasoned with cinnamon and cloves and studded with raisins and green olives. And don't tell Bubbe, but my brisket has dried cranberries in it.
5. Kids in pajamas: Something about the act of putting on pajamas rockets the cuteness level of all children to the stratosphere, especially if there are feet involved. Pajamas just scream...childhood and innocence to me. It's why I have a photo on my mantle of me and two of my brothers, circa 1971, all of us pajama-clad. My brothers are in the old-fashioned kind with lapels and buttons, the kind old men wear. (See also: leather slippers.) I mean, is there anything sweeter? I think part of it is the word. Pajamas. It's just inherently cute.
6. Sunday mornings: Ideally: Bagels and coffee and the New York Times, with classical music playing. (That sounds like an awful cliche, but it's actually exactly how I grew up, with my parents finishing the magazine crossword puzzle just in time for Sunday night Chinese.) I love everything about Sundays: brunch food, the Target circular, trips to the Farmers' Market. It's all good.
7. Blizzards/blackouts, et al: While I can't recommend having a child with a stomach bug during a blizzard, as we did earlier this year (because you know what they say: nothing spells fun like having a vomiting two year old in a dark, cold house where you can't do any laundry!), I love the slightly out-of-time feeling that events like this have. The idea that the everyday rules are suspended for just a while. The way people come out of their homes and gather in the street to compare notes, and someone invites you over for an impromptu spaghetti dinner. The way that, as you dig out your driveway, you feel compelled to say hello to everyone who passes by, although the same people could pass by on any other day and you wouldn't say so much as a word to them. I don't know that we ever talked about it, but I found out that my brother Eric feels the same way; the seminal event in his debut feature film is an eclipse. Watch Madeline Kahn walk the darkened daytime streets pretending to be a "moon explorer" and you'll know what we mean.
8. Non-morning coffee: I am, like most of the adult world, a morning coffee addict. Can't function without. But I have a special fondness for coffee at other times of day. While I've usually had too much already to join her, I love that my friend Max always orders a cup of coffee with lunch. I adore the 4 p.m. pick-me-up latte. And while I know the Italians look in horror upon us Americans and our ridiculous coffee abominations, I love a cappuccino with dessert. Bonus points to anyone who says they want to meet me for "a coffee" as opposed to "coffee." Can't explain why, but I love that.
9. Maps. And not even fancy, beautiful vintage maps, though I love those too. I could pore over the pages of the Rand McNally road atlas for hours, just thinking about what goes where. I have no idea why I associate the two things, but I also love old-fashioned keys.
10. Anything with that dry, crumbly shortbread-ish consistency. Scones? Check. Cobbler? Yes indeed-y. Hamentaschen? You betcha. (This is actually about my love of butter, I think. Right?) Update: I forgot biscuits. And cornbread. Yum.
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