It wasn’t as violent as it sounds. But things of enormous significance happened to people in my world, and the confluence of events in a short span of time startled me with their lack of subtlety. Life hit me upside the head, then blared a foghorn in my face. I paid attention.
First, my son, under Jewish tradition, became an adult. Now 13, this formerly shy child of mine commanded the bima at our temple with authority, confidence, and grace. He read fluidly in another language, beautifully moderating the highs and lows of his voice, a voice near-complete in its transition.
Wasn’t I just on that bima myself, reading Torah, looking out on the faces of my own parents and grandparents, a 13-year-old girl in an ill-fitting dress?
But no, that was long ago.
When I offered the tallit to my son, he said a blessing, then swung the prayer shawl around his shoulders. I stepped off the bima.
I ceded more than the stage in that moment. I passed him a torch, and afterwards, I took more than my seat. I took my first tentative steps across an unmistakable divide. It felt good in that instant, but my throat catches now when I think about it.
The next day, a dear friend’s father died. Cancer of the pancreas.
The day after that, two close friends – utterly disconnected from each other, but both so important to me -- had babies. I got the news of one, then the other, in quick succession. Daughters.
Life split in half last week: birth on the left, death on the right, and me, straddling the crooked divide.
Recipe for Tender Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread (updated)
I’ve gently reworked this zucchini bread recipe from 2008. It’s not so different from my earlier version, but it’s better, and therefore worth sharing in its new and improved form. The center will crack, cleaving the cake partly in two. That’s just the natural order of things.
Makes one loaf.
1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1-3/4 cup grated, unpeeled zucchini (use the smallest holes on a box grater and pack lightly into the measuring cups)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Turn off the mixer, add the oil and brown sugar, and beat slowly for 1 minute. Add the zucchini. Beat on low speed for 1 minute longer. Dump in the dry ingredients. Beat just until combined.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Give the sides and bottom of the bowl a good, solid sweep with a rubber spatula, making sure all the floury bits are incorporated. Scrape into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for about 55 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack. Don't attempt to slice until the bread is fully cool.