There’s something about a rainy summer day. A day when a steady, soft rain falls down to the earth in the most soothing way. A day when the humidity is seemingly stolen out of the air in the quiet of such a rain, when the heat of the ground is finally alleviated and rises into the air in subtle wisps of steam.
There’s something even better about a rainy summer Sunday — it’s as if the day is telling you to slow down, whispering that today is the day to take it easy, to relax, to just be.
Yesterday was one of those Sundays in my neck of the woods. The heat and humidity that has come to be standard vanished, leaving in its wake what felt like an appetizer of fall weather, whetting our appetites for the season to come. The cool, cloudy morning gave way to a drizzly day, with a steady rainfall serving as an almost meditative backdrop for the day.
After a morning run, a refreshing shower, and breakfast (coffee time, at last!), it was time to decide how to spend such a day. My first thought is to get the oven warmed up and pick out a recipe to try. As I stood in front of the open kitchen windows watching the rain play with the leaves on the maple trees in the yard, my Sunday plans began to take shape. With two sizable zucchini in the refrigerator, a couple loaf pans, and some fresh vanilla extract, I knew it would be the day to make a zucchini bread (or two).
Before I proceed, I must pause for a confession: as much as I LOVE to bake and find myself perpetually in the kitchen testing out one recipe or another, baking a zucchini bread — or zucchini anything — has always evaded me. I think it’s the terrifying thought of skinning my knuckles on the grater while splicing the summer squash that has kept me away all this time. But alas, on a rainy Sunday in August, it was finally time to face my fears, break out the grater, and get to work.
The first step was for me to find the recipe I wanted to use. As a zucchini bread novice, I certainly did not have one in my arsenal ready to go. But luckily, the quickest Google search merited “Mom’s Zucchini Bread” recipe from AllRecipes.com.
I find the grater, and let the mise en place begin, shredding each zucchini while praying to all the grater gods that may exist in the universe to not let me rip open my fingers on this piece of kitchen equipment. I sift my dry ingredients next and set aside, then get to work on the wet ingredients. I combine them both, then chop up some walnuts before I add them and the zucchini to the batter.
Before I added the zucchini, however, I noticed a puddle of what looked like swamp water in the bowl, and debated whether or not to drain the liquid before adding it to the batter. Thankfully, my memory kicked in and recalled a review of the recipe that strongly warned against removing the liquid, as doing so would also remove the moisture from the cake. With that in mind, I took a deep breath and dumped the zucchini in, stirring as I went as I watched the batter take on the swamp-water color. I added the walnuts next, stirred some more, and once it was all combined, the batter was ready to be poured into my greased and floured loaf pans.
Fifty minutes later and with a house smelling of cinnamon and fresh rain, the cakes were ready. I pulled them out of the oven, and then pulled up to a spot on the couch for some Netflix binging, which took over the rest of the day, as binging tends to do.
The verdict on the zucchini bread? Absolutely worthy of its 5-star rating. The verdict on the Netflix viewing? Tremendously satisfying. Overall rating of this rainy August Sunday? 10 out of 10. Sometimes, we simply need a day of straight nothingness. No plans, no chores or errands, no obligations. A day where we get to decide how the day moves along — or doesn’t move at all.
So what matters today is the relief that rain brings, not just to the air and the earth, but to us earth dwellers who get to take in its soothing sounds and its slow and steady pace. What matters today is being able to enjoy the rainy day, instead of not letting feel like a wasted day. What matters is being able to make our own plans, or non-plans, chart the course of our weekend in the way that will be most relaxing and most recharging for us.
What matters is trying something new (like a recipe) and not only enjoying the results, but also being proud of what we were able to produce.
What matters most is slowing down and taking the time to enjoy the subtle things that soothe our soul, that take us on a mental vacation, and that lull us into the start of a new week.