BACK IN WIPPAMUNK, I don't see Ingrid and Garrett for a few days. The truck's gone, and their side of the house remains inactive. I'm a little lonely without them, but it's probably good for me to spend a few days by myself, to catch up on work and even do a little spring cleaning. I find myself performing chores I haven't done in years, like laundering the curtains in the living room and rotating the mattress. I even wash Hank head to toe with Windex and paper towels. And I take my little woven rugs out back and shake them. I swear when I reposition them on the floor, they look brand-new.
Then one late afternoon, as I'm upstairs putting finishing strokes on a patella, and Gladys is crooning away about peaceful waters and gentle breezes, I hear Garrett's truck rumbling up the road. I skip downstairs to greet them on their side of the porch.
Ingrid runs to me and hugs me so tight, I have to take a couple of steps backward to keep my balance.
“Whoa,” I say. “Hi there.”
“I haven't seen you in, like, forever,” she says. “Were you drawing? You smell like pencils.”
“It's my new perfume.”
She giggles. “We spent three days in Boston.”
Carrying a little suitcase in one hand and Ingrid's backpack in the other, Garrett pauses on the steps. I glance at him and smile. He mouths “Hi,” not wanting to interrupt Ingrid's story.
“Trudy came out one day, and we rode the swan boats in the Public Gardens,” she says. “And another day when it rained, we met my mother at the science museum. They have a lightning show there, and my mother screamed because she was really scared by the crazy loud lightning noises. It was funny. But I wasn't scared. And at Fenway Park I ate vanilla ice cream from a little plastic batting helmet. And there's a red line painted on the sidewalk that leads you to Paul Revere's house. Did you know that? It's called the Trail to Freedom.”
“She means the Freedom Trail,” says Garrett, laughing. “Come on in.”
He leaves their things by the stairs and follows Ingrid into the kitchen, where she roots around in the fridge. “What's for dinner, Dad?”
“I don't know yet, boo-boo.” He opens the curtains over the sink and pushes up the window, grunting a little when it gets stuck. And I realize, I'm not just watching him trying to get the window unstuck. I'm
him. I admire the muscles in his back, working under his T-shirt, and the fact that he thinks to open a window, first thing, after a few days away.
“OMG.” Ingrid whirls around and slaps the side of her head. “Zell's present! How could we forget?”
“It's in the front pocket of my suitcase,” says Garrett. “Why don't you go get it?”
She twirls away toward the stairs, and I sit at the kitchen table. “You got me a present?” I ask.
“Oh, just something small,” he says, and winks. He sorts through the mail, separating envelopes into two piles on the table. A warm breeze lifts the curtains and stirs my hair.
“While you took a little vacation in Vermont,” he says, “we decided we'd take one, too, in Boston. And we ended up hanging out with Ingrid's mom for a bit.”
“How was it?” I ask quietly.
“It was . . .” He trails off and crashes into the chair opposite me. “Awkward. But awkward's better than nothing, I guess. Right?”
“Right. It's a start.”
“A start,” he repeats, and I remember that night at Tunkamog Lake, the feeling of his fingertips threading through my hair, the warmth that enveloped me when he pulled me close. I flash him a half smile over the piles of envelopes. “Yeah,” I say. “A start.”
Ingrid sashays grandly into the kitchen, and Garrett and I share one last glance before giving her our attention. She hoists a flat object wrapped in a plastic bag. “Ta-da. For you.”
?” I say, feigning surprise. Inside the bag is
Scrumpy Every Time,
Polly Pinch's brand-new, debut cookbook. I flip through the glossy pages and see that she signed it,
To Zell, who warmed my soul.
“Thanks so much, you guys,” I say. “I'll definitely get a lot of use out of this.”
Ingrid claps and jumps around a little. “Isn't that cool? I got one, too.
?” She hops next to his chair and throws an arm around his neck. “I'm starving.”
“You shouldn't say that,” he says, kissing her palm with a loud smack. “You're not
You just feel really hungry.”
“Okay then, I feel really, really hungry.”
He gestures to the cookbook with Ingrid's hand, which makes her giggle. “What should we have for dinner, Zell?” he asks.
“You're asking the wrong person,” I say with a laugh. “But, okay.” I open to a random page, where Polly is shown barefoot in a sun-flooded kitchen, wearing faded denim clam diggers and fitting a lid on a lobster pot. “How about this?” I suggest. “Grilled Lemon-Pepper Lobster Rolls with Super Simp Caesar?”
“Mmm.” Ingrid nods.
“Sure,” says Garrett. “I'll just go on out back and fish some lobster out of the ocean.”
.” She rolls her eyes, Ingrid style.
“Seriously,” he says, “I think I can probably find something in the freezer to throw on the grill. Zell? Join us?”
“Yeah,” says Ingrid. “We can cook dinner, the three of us. Like a
” Her eyes are big and bright, and Garrett eyes me expectantly.
“Why not?” I say. “I'll go grab my apron.”
“Yessss!” she says. “Don't forget your matching oven mitts.”
“Great.” Garrett heads for the freezer. “And what about Gladys?” he asks. “Can she join us for dinner?”
“Of course,” I say, getting up from the table. “She's quite portable.”
“I'll come with you.” Ingrid grasps my hand and pulls me to the door.
I skip beside her, and my throat makes a sound, and a second goes by before I realizeâI'm giggling.
I'm skipping, and I'm g.d. giggling.
Maybe it's my new Zell style.
Scrumpy Delight (For Ahab)
Yield: One Scrumpy Delight. Serves two to four.
For best flavor, use fresh pineapple, and grill slices before chopping. If using canned chopped pineapple, drain juice well.
1 heaping cup well-chopped pineapple (if substituting fresh strawberries, apples, or peaches, wash and dry fruit completely)
2 ounces spreadable goat cheese, softened slightly in microwave (substitute other soft cheeses, such as cream cheese, if desired)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Scant Â½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (sounds like a lot, but trust us)
Polly Pinch's Super Simp Flaky
piecrust (substitute store-bought crust, or make your own from scratch using a favorite recipe, if desired)
1 (1Â½-ounce) dark or milk chocolate bar
2 teaspoons whole milk or cream
Chilled fresh raspberries (substitute blueberries, if desired)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425Â°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Combine the pineapple, cheese, honey, lime juice, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Carefully lay the piecrust flat on the baking sheet. Repair any tears in the dough with moistened fingertips.
Place the chocolate bar in the center of the piecrust.
Pour the pineapple mixture onto the chocolate bar. Using a spatula, spread the mixture out toward the edge of the dough, leaving about a 1-inch margin.
Using your fingertips, drag two opposite sides of the piecrust to meet in the center, forming a rectangle. Brush the top of the crust with milk.
Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pepper, if desired. Garnish with berries.
Using a sharp knife, divide into segments.
Best served warm.
I extend my deep appreciation to the following individuals, who brought this book to life: my agent Laney Katz Becker; Celeste Fine; my editor Erika Imranyi and the team at Dutton; kind authors Amy MacKinnon, Roland Merullo, and Rachel Simon, for generous advice; relatives, friends, teachers, and colleagues who support and inspire me, especially the Adamses, my parents Barbara and Robert Bessette, my brother Rob, my sister Ann-Marie Hanlon, Scott Hum-feld, Jim Keogh and the Landmark crew, Benj Lipchak and Jessica Sands, Lori Litchman and Dave Tavani, Joe Molis, Bob Moran, the Quick family, the Rayworths, Susan O'Keefe, Sue Rubenstein, the Shagenskys, Jay Sommer, Jan Trembley; those who read my early work, especially Shelly Halloran; volunteers who helped in and around New Orleans and the people from that area who shared their trials, fears, successes, and hopes; and most of all Mattâmy love, my breath, my heart.