Roasted Plum Brulée Tart with sweet 'thyme' crust

I've been a bit emotional lately.  Sometimes, it just takes getting absorbed in someone else's blog to bring tears to my eyes.  This happened recently.  I felt like the words that I was reading were like those from the children's book The Giving Tree.  Do you know The Giving Tree?  Doesn't that book just get more and more emotional as you get older and understand the layers of meaning behind the words and illustrations?

This blog, "Desserts for Breakfast" is one that I go to in order to drool and sigh and praise the photography of Stephanie, the writer and photographer.  Whenever she has a new post, I clicky-click right over in anticipation of her gorgeous photography.

But, this time, not only did the gorgeous Apricot Brulée Tart she made make me sigh, the words added to the photos made me sigh even deeper.

Stephanie's Grandmother used to split her time between Taiwan and the U.S. to help care for the grandchildren.  Because she is aging, she can no longer make the journey.  Every time the grandmother visited, it seemed to Stephanie that their apricot tree blossomed with more fruit during that time.  Recently, her mother brought Stephanie a bag of beautiful apricots that evoked strong feelings of her grandmother.

Isn't that heart-breakingly sweet?  Isn't that so symbolic and allegorical?  

I asked myself why am I getting teary-eyed over the situation of a family that I don't even know?  What is wrong with my sappy disposition as of late?  My husband and children definitely poke fun of how random events happen that often and easily illicit strong emotions with me.  

But if I scratch the surface of these events,  I do know why to some of these questions...

Sometimes, time seems to move so slowly that if we had an old-fashioned clock with a second hand that tick, tick, ticked itself around and around in circles, I would amuse myself by watching this cycle with rapt attention.

Other times, I reach out and try to grab hold of time as if it were floating bubbles in the air and I am desperately trying to balance one on my hand without it popping and vanishing.

My son started his Junior year of high school.  I am a homeschool mom.  Does that make things more emotinal?  I don't know.  There is a layer of me that dreads this time of the year that fills my head with self doubt and fear.  "Will I know enough?"  "Will I be patient enough, organized enough, motivated enough, energetic enough?"  The responsibility is one that drives me to self doubt of new proportions each year.  

And then the years add up.  And there are more schooling years behind us than in front of us.  There seems to be so much to teach, but so little time to teach it.

And then I got an e-mail from my daughter.  This e-mail was coming from upstairs to downstairs.  Isn't that great?  No really, I think it is so wonderful to develop verbal, email text, twitter, Facebook relationships with your children.  Just as schooling needs to accommodate learning styles, so does choice of communication between parents and their kids.  So sometimes I also get texts from upstairs...or movie trailors, Manu the cat clips, and Natalie Tran segments  Questions, comments, and more cute kitty photos make their way through the pixel universe and beep on my phone next to me while I am tucked into my bed...probably writing on this blog.

Well, this e-mail gave me one of those moments of pause that was so parent-affirming and heart wrenching at the same time.

This e-mail was one of a collection of the sweetest e-mails that I have received from her.  The words were carefully chosen, well phrased, and more mature than anything I could have written at her age.

The e-mail was to gently decline the "open invite" that was put out to her to go on another road trip this summer...just me, her, and her brother.  Last summer, we took off for the Grand Canyon and we had such a blast.  I collected my thoughts and photos here.

In her soft manner, she expressed the desire to spread her wings a bit, travel with her newly made friends, and loosen the parent child bond for now so she could exercise her growing independence.

My heart ached.  But it ached with pride as well as it ached with sadness.  Every parent wants their child to be capable of going out into this beautiful, colorful, but sometimes heartless world and be able to thrive, enjoy, and grasp the opportunities that come their way.  

She was sure to express how much our past trips meant to her, how fortunate she was, and how many more there will hopefully be in the future.  But, for now, my Giving Tree got a little bit shorter.

"If You Love Someone, Set Them Free. If They Come Back They’re Yours Forever."

These words ring so true.

I expressed to my daughter how thrilled I was that she was eager to take these steps in her life.  I wanted her to know how proud I am of how well she can communicate herself on important issues.  I assured her that I understood that trailing behind her "mother" was in her eyes different sounding than in my "motherly" eyes.

In my mind's eye, however, I see a tiny little hand that held on to mine as she steadied herself as a toddler.  I can easily visualize what it was like carrying her around on my hip as we bobbed up and down in the swimming pool.  I feel the touch of us holding hands as we scrambled together to safety when crossing busy streets.

So my emotions are a bit scattered at the moment.  I realize that parents think that "parenting" will never end.  The menial chores that remind us of careers halted, the meals that make use of cherrios in ways we never dreamed about, the cleaning unknown stains on teen tiny clothes, the scolding and the no-no's, and the piles and piles of homework sheets only special to mom and dad that seem to be the forever norm.

Just as my children are stepping out into this world, I am working on stepping out with them, in my own way.  I immersed myself in making this tart this weekend.  I wanted a rich and beautiful dessert for our Sunday table to mark our beginning of a new year.  

This recipe calls for apricots.  The apricots here didn't look very healthy but I spotted some gorgeous ruby red plums.  They were soft and sweet on the inside and tangy and peppery on the outside.  The thyme used in the crust gave a depth to the dessert that was woodsy and organic.

As I immersed myself in slicing the juicy plums, roasting them in the oven, torching the sweet sugar on the fresh fruit to make a brulée, tempering the golden egg yolks with the scalded milk, and sliding the soft thyme leaves off of their thick wooden stems, I realized that this dessert was rather symbolic of the journey that I am on right now.  

There are such blissfully sweet moments in this life, lip puckering tart times, scalding situations of stinging pain, but so many rich and creamy slices of depth and development.

And I wouldn't change any of it for all the world.  

Thank you to Stephanie for her beautiful story of her grandmother, her apricot tree, and her inspiration for a lovely summer fruit tart.

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