Cake Baking and Other Luxuries of Summer

(Originally published on July 4, 1991 in The Beach Reporter.)

Yesterday morning we baked a chocolate cake. Nothing unusual in that, you might say. Except for the fact that it made me stop and think that most of us don’t have many mornings when we can just bake a chocolate cake if we want to.

Normal mornings are spent in a frenzy of getting kids to school on time, the breakfast dishes done, the beds made, the laundry started, the pets fed, and getting myself either to my computer, the grocery store, or the gym. On normal mornings I barely have time to buy a chocolate cake, let alone make one from scratch.

Actually, we used a cake mix, but that’s close enough. Any time you get to break eggs into a bowl, lick the beaters, and use an oven, I count that as making from scratch. We did make the frosting ourselves though. I would never buy frosting in a can.
It was the first official day of summer for us. School had been out for a week, but this was our first official Monday with NOTHING PLANNED. When you suddenly have a day with NOTHING PLANNED you realize what a fast track you are on.

On that particular day with nothing planned, we were still in our pajamas at 11:00 a.m. It’s even better to make a chocolate cake at 11:00 a.m. in your pajamas. It feels positively decadent. Year-round schools may come at some point in our lives, but for now I want to savor this slower pace.

Normally our mornings are like this: “Eat your breakfast, brush your teeth, where’s your library book, yes you have to wear your glasses even if you think they’re ugly, don’t do that to the cat, all I have is tuna for lunch again, get dressed, I guess you will have to eat in the car, I don’t know where your blue socks are, do I look like the person in charge of socks in this family, what do you mean you need a permission slip and you can’t find it, get your homework folder, comb your hair in the car, grab your toast, LET’S GO!”

Our conversation on the first real day of summer was more to my liking: “Whattaya wanna do today? (Yawn). “I dunno. Whatta you wanna do?” “I dunno. How about baking a cake?”

By the second real day of summer, the thrill of doing nothing was gone. There came the plaintive cry that turns mothers all over the world to stone when they hear it. “There’s nothing to do, and no one to do it with.”

Luckily, that’s why summer camp was invented, and luckily I had signed my darling children up for Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that took care of that little problem.

That still left five other days of the week for the beach, Wild Rivers, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, indoor ice skating at the mall, miniature gold, lunch at McDonald’s, the movies, and every park in a ten-mile radius. I have to be careful though not to fall into the trap of over-scheduling, and allow enough days where we don’t have to be anywhere at any certain time.

I think next Monday, we’ll bake bread.

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