I am a bit of a sentimental realist.
One of the bits of wisdom I usually give new parents is this: "You must begin now to let go of your child." Sounds counter intuitive, doesn't it? However, as someone with almost 40 years of parenting experience, I have learned that in order for your child to grow into the person he or she wants to become, we, as parents, have to let go. And invariably, we learn something from our children.
Let me tell you a story.
When our daughter, Ingrid, was about 3 years old and we were visiting New York City, she declared that one day she would live in The Big Apple. No fuss, no discussion, she was going to live in New York. About two years after she graduated from the University of Minnesota and after working at a leading Twin Cities magazine, she told us she was moving to New York. My wife is from New Jersey so we are acquainted with the area but...move there? What part of being a Minnesotan didn't she understand? The part that this is "God's Country" (perpetuated by her born and raised Minnesota father) or the part that this state is still a land of opportunity (also perpetuated by the same father)? Thankfully she is her mother's daughter, too. Her mother loves to "stretch" - to visit new places, eat new foods and experience new and exciting cultural activities. Ingrid didn't fall very far from her maternal roots. She was going to the big city, and it was time for me to "stretch."
And so, on a cold December morning in 2003, I found myself driving our daughter to the Humphrey Terminal in Minneapolis. As she confidently walked to the gate to her waiting plane, she stopped, looked at me, smiled, waved and was on her way. My aching heart learned something that day: Ingrid was stretching more than I was letting go. It was time for me to stretch, to smile back at her, and wave. I needed to believe in her abilities and the amazing opportunities awaiting her in New York City.
Opportunities present themselves in many ways. Recently our family gathered in Minneapolis to celebrate my birthday, and it was a joyous time as we walked, talked, ate and entertained ourselves through the weekend. I am usually rather reserved about my birthday, but the kids "stretched" me and thankfully, they did. At the celebratory dinner at the Warehouse District's 112 Eatery Restaurant, two bottles of wine appeared. The first was a 1997 bottle of California Chardonnay, and that was delicious. The second bottle of wine was a 1957 vintage bottle of Australian Coonawarra Estate Cabernet. It was a moment I will never forget and neither will my family because of my enthusiastic reaction. The Cabernet was so different, and I found myself experiencing tastes I had never tasted. So, as the summer progresses, why not try a different beverage - stretch yourself a bit. If you are a beer drinker, try a glass of hard cider. Cider is making a heady return to our tables and a welcome return it is. Depending on the apple variety used to make the cider, your cider will taste tart or sweet, have a high or low acidity - there is a taste for everyone. Forget the beer glass! Pour your cider into a white wine glass and enjoy the spectacular sight. I would recommend Angry Orchid's Green Apple Cider for a tasty thirst quenching drink.
When did you last taste a ros? At this time of the year, a ros offers a bit of color, some sweetness and enough acidity to soothe your summer parched throat. A reasonably priced bottle of Benziger Dry Ros sparkles in the glass and its minty strawberry taste will do its best to please you.
And for a spirit what would the summer be without gin? Gins versatility - whether straight or in a cocktail - is a welcome addition to everyone's list of summer beverages. Playwright Noel Coward famously said: "A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin and waving it in the general direction of Italy." However you drink it and to whatever direction you wave it, try gin. An Urban Cowboy (basically gin, bitters, a sugar cube and a maraschino cherry) will lighten your day and be a welcome cocktail for your guests and family.
Yes, our daughter went to live and work in New York City, and she continues to "stretch" us to this day. She and her husband, Noah, are expecting their first child (and, our first grandchild) this November.
Isn't being stretched grand?
As always, eat and drink responsibly but laugh with reckless abandon. Cheers!