Sometimes a writer can sum up exactly how I feel in just a few short words. This summer, it was the title of Miriam Toews’ novel The Summer of My Amazing Luck that did just that.
Now that I am settling into fall and have time on the couch to reflect with pencil and notepad, I realize the most beautiful things happen without a lot of planning. My summer was no exception.
When I got an invitation to visit Alabama in early August, it sounded like just the adventure we needed. So with Irma Voth and The Help stuffed in my bag and two teenagers in tow, we set out. The moment we stepped from the plane, a heavy, humid heat greeted us. That sultry weather was the backdrop of a week of lazy poolside days and incredible southern cuisine. From baskets of beignets in the morning to baskets of deep-fried seafood at night, we were able to experience the warm culture of this faraway, yet somehow familiar, place.
Guiding us along the way was Joe Bob, a neighbouring condo owner who decided to
take us under his wing. Our week culminated with a boat ride, which took us through the
Bayou from Orange Beach into the Gulf of Mexico where we saw dolphins jumping all around our boat. Every few hours or so, Joe Bob would steer to shore, and we’d jump on the dock and head to charming restaurants where we had Royal Red shrimp straight from the sea.
Immediately upon returning home, we were invited to a Lake of the Woods cottage for a weekend sleepover with friends. It turned out to be a royal weekend of feasting, with just a few hours of sun tanning, a couple of boat rides and a workout or two thrown in for good measure. One evening, we decided to have a night-long tasting party, which started with Campari cocktails and baked ribs. The evening was as much about cooking as it was about eating so we just stayed in the kitchen, grazing as we went. In the end, we’d sampled everything from seared scallops and fennel-infused meatballs to blackened porterhouse and crème brûlée.
In both cases it was about the right people, at the right place and pairing both with good food and life’s lovely surprises.
Recipe: Shrimp in hot and sour broth
Excerpt from ANNA Magazine's inspiring issue Comfort.