A few mornings a week, I swim with a local swim team. In the darkness of the ensuite, I pull the straps of my well-worn bathing suit over my shoulders and quickly pull yoga pants, a sweatshirt and thick wool socks over top to ward off the chill of having crawled out of bed at 5a.m. on a late fall morning.
The neighbourhood is silent and dark and I all can hear is the click of the car doors unlocking and feel the slick of heavy frost under my shoes. I wait until I’ve pulled out of the driveway before I turn the car lights on, for fear that they shine into the baby’s room and wake her. The heat blasts my face and I ride in silence to the pool, stopping at flashing reds and speeding a little down the empty highway.
I try to slip into the pool without hesitation, dunking my head immediately to complete the process. As the cool water shocks my cheeks and eardrums, I make a habit of whispering to myself “thank goodness I’m here,” and picturing what I would have been doing if I weren’t – sleeping, or, more likely, sipping a hot cup of tea and writing during the quiet morning hours when my brain is at its brightest.
My first few laps seem long and slow, and I stretch my arms and widen my fingers in a way that is more yoga than swimming. I am careful to roll into my right arm, buoyed by my air-full ribcage, turning my head to the left just enough to get a bit of air, a bit of water, which, as I turn my head back down toward the bottom of the pool, my tongue will sort out as bubbles flow from my throat. Swimming to me comes more automatically than walking, it seems.
As I glide back toward the shallow end and a sip of water, my coach teases me about having such a deep groove to my stroke – a pace and rhythm that, come six foot swell, coughing fit, or aquafit class in the next lane, simply stays the same. I am steady, built for kilometer after kilometer of this, but intimidated by flip turns and diving blocks. As the hour-long practice finishes, some days it feels like I’ve just warmed up and could swim another hour or more if it weren’t for the jar of muesli awaiting me, daycare dropoff, and my first meeting of the day.
With all that frost and cold water, it might be nice to dip a spoon into something that is warm in temperature and flavour. With the steadiness and rhythm of swimming pairs another steady in our household: apple crisp. Easy to make at the end of one of those days when you’ve been up since 5a.m., warm, and decadent when drizzled with maple cream sauce, but just as lovely without.
- 8 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. flour, divided
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp. + 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, divided
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 5 tbsp. maple syrup
- 3 tbsp. corn syrup
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Toss the apples with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Distribute in an even layer in a 9X13 baking dish.
- Combine the remainder of the ingredients in a small bowl and spoon over the apples.
- Bake approximately 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the apples are soft when poked with a fork.
- Pour the ingredients into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and reduces by about one third. This should take approximately 15 minutes. Refrigerate until cold and thick before serving.