We celebrate both our dogs' birthdays and anniversaries - that is, the day they came home. For Prune the two days fell over the summer just weeks apart. We had a trip to the beach and a walk by the river, as markers. They felt that way. Momentous. Poignant. She turned eight. We've had her six years. There were a few dark days last October I didn't think we'd celebrate in August ever again. Those were cold thoughts, in the heat of August, watching sailboats on the Broads as our girl grinned and sniffed everywhere she shouldn't. Weird to say, but Pruney and I are very similar. Independent, sort of prickly. Sullen when we want to be. Introverted. I don't think I was even 12 when prune first came to us - she was two, but from the start I think she established that I was the kid and I needed to be looked after, for whatever reason. She took it on herself to do so and has the most uncanny way of knowing when something is wrong. Better than anyone in the family, because she knows but she doesn't ask. She'll just sit there - on the cushion in the hallway outside my room, under the couch, right over my feet. Just sit with her ears slightly pricked, as if to say, I'm here if you want to talk, kid. I don't and I think she prefers it that way. Ah Prune, you're just my type.
We brought Prune back home after her surgery last year pretty late evening. A bitter October Friday - the sky had been doleful, dour, a matte gray and the radios spluttered about how the nights were among the coldest in the year. It was bleak. We felt it, inside and out. Suzi stopped eating cheese without her sister to steal it. We picked Prune up from the vet and her whole stomach had been shaved; pink skin and a 30 centimetre gash of stitches that had put her back together again. She was in pieces - off the operating table with just a shell. She cried. Pain, confusion, abandonment, the whole lot. It was haunting. She was my darling. We couldn't leave her alone with the risk she'd lick the stitches so my mum and I each stayed up half the night to be with her, 2 am, the thermometer on my phone telling me it was below freezing out. I had a kitchen chair shoved next to the radiator where I could face the dogs on their cushions and keep my back warm. Too much time to think. To will her to pull through. Watch her ribcage heave up and down as she slept, fitfully. She was alive. She couldn't go into the garden without a lead so I wore sweatpants and took her out, Suzi a few steps ahead, sniffing the frosty grass, our footsteps louder than they should've been; the moon brighter than suited the occasion. Or maybe it worked, because it put the three of us in a white light. Something uplifting about the clear mornings and watery sunshine when Prune and I took our first slow stroll around the block. She sniffed the air, watched the clouds from her breath in the cold, and I could almost see her smile.
Her fur grew back, slowly, the scar healed, physically, for all of us. She was older. I was older. When she was a pup in the summer we would paint her toenails and make daisy necklaces that we'd tuck into her collar, a bit of festival flair. We'd play baseball, she fielded ok. She'd jump in and out of our SUV with reckless abandon and it's now noticeably more of a cautious leap. She still hops up and down when we come home, she still licks her paws to the point of obsession, she still purrs when you scratch her chin, still has those irresistible puppy eyes. But this year I sat out in the sun reading and she lay in the shed, behind me, where the floor was cool. Took her for drives in my car, music playing, fields and rivers flashing past. I sang, she rolled her eyes, more or less. She lay under the couch where I was sitting with her face resting on her paws, alert and thinking. About the future or the past I'm not sure. Probably a bit of both. About the cold days of autumn that brought her back to life, and the summer heat; the days for living.
"What she realised was that love is that moment when your heart is about to burst" Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
This is the second time that I'm making Prune pancakes but she loved these to say the least. Easy, pretty quick and you probably have all the ingredients at home right now. I love recipes that have such a short ingredient list, nice and minimalist. The first of the so-called 'autumn storms' hit our nook of the UK last week so I was graced with some beautifully moody September light for the photos. Prune is with me as I write this, using my leg as a sort of prop for her head and thumping her tail when I stop scratching her neck.
Love from the two of us xx
banana + flax pancakes
gluten free // makes 4-6 pancakes
2 medium bananas, ripe
4 free range eggs
1/4 tspn pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons flax meal, oat flour or mix of both
sprinkle ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn baking powder
coconut oil, for cooking
pure maple syrup, nut butter, etc for serving
In a medium bowl, mash bananas with a fork until fairly smooth. Crack in eggs and beat together; beat in vanilla. Add the flax meal, cinnamon and baking powder, stir until batter is smooth.
Allow batter to rest 10ish minutes so the flax absorbs some of the liquid. Cuddle your puppy, check your emails, scroll instagram as the batter thickens to something that's pourable but not watery. Get a non stick pan going over medium heat.
Scoop a sort of conservative quarter cup of batter (maybe 3T) - keep the pancakes on the smaller side, they're easier to handle that way. Pour into the pan, cook for 2-3 minutes on one side until bubbles form, then (very gently) flip to continue cooking on the other side for around 2 minutes (I cook on an electric stove so this will be different if you have a gas stove) until both sides are golden brown, or done to your liking. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
If you're planning on freezing your pancakes, I recommend letting them cool on a wire rack and then freezing them straight away because they tend to go off really fast (I speak from past experience). Otherwise, keep warm in a low oven and serve with maple, nut butter, whatever you like. The pancakes in the photo were originally frozen (they look fresh right?? except maybe folded funny from the freezer bag?), I just put them in a dry pan over the stove but in hindsight why didn't I just use the toaster?
currently welcoming tips on how to resist those eyes