Monday, June 11, 2007


I was going to see Stalking Santa last weekend starring the incomparable Oh Judy and The Jolly Porter. The plan was to take the offspring along to the family friendly show at 6:00 on Saturday.

Our social calendars are often chockfull and Saturday was no exception. El Guille, Proximo, and I were invited to Anne’s house for a long, lazy afternoon lunch full of salads: caprese, green with cucumbers, and my famous spring couscous. (And by ‘my famous’ I mean it should be my famous because even though I stole the recipe from someone else, I made it and it rocked.)
We discussed heavy things and participated in light ruminations. Lunch outside, under the green chandelier and in the aqua colored chairs, was divine.

The hours passed by as if on the breeze. Proximo fell asleep in the shade on his blanket; legs and arms sprawled in a show of absolute relaxation. El Guille played with his transported trains, charmed the ladies, and executed little pieces of mischief in between.

After several hours, El Guille was no longer content in the confines of the back yard. He asked to try the front yard. Anne could see him from the back gate and kept watch. Then it was my turn. I conversed with my dearest friends while watching El Guille. I made some sort of point about some sort of nonsense; turned back to view the front yard and El Guille was gone. Not on the street, not in the house—GONE.

I c a l m l y informed the ladies. Anne roused her husband and he hopped into his car for the search. I handed Proximo off to Anne and got into my own car. Having experienced a running three year old, I knew that in just two minutes he could be in Des Moines, a short two thousand miles to the east. I started with Day’s Market, a block and a half away. No Guille.

No Guille at the gas station either. No Guille on the side streets, the church parking lot, or the private park. By this time half the neighborhood was out looking for the child. The minutes stretched away from me. You just surpress the panic.

He was found two blocks away sitting in some bushes crying.

I drove up to the man who found him. El Guille dropped out of the man’s arms. He started walking slowly towards me and then sped up, trying to close the distance between us. His mouth trembled and tears formed in his eyes. “Mama,” he said softly and hugged my legs fiercely. He had heard some dogs and went to investigate, losing himself in the process.

I checked my watch: 6:30. No movie tonight.

Couscous Salad with Spinach, Parsley and Spring Onions
1 cup medium-grain instant couscous (can use whole wheat)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-1/3 cups hottest possible tap water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 bunch fresh parsley, leaves only (2 cups loosely packed)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 spring onions or 6 scallions, trimmed and cut into very thin rings
5 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed, dried, stems removed, and cut into chiffonade (4 cups loosely packed)
3 tablespoons Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing (recipe follows)

1. In a large, shallow bowl, combine the couscous and the salt. Toss with a fork to blend. Add the water and fluff until the grains are evenly separated. Set aside and occasionally fluff and toss the grains until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 3 minutes.
2. In a food processor or a blender, combine the lemon juice, parsley leaves, and olive oil and process until the parsley is finely chopped. Toss the parsley mixture and the spring onions with the couscous. (This can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated.)
3. At serving time, toss the spinach chiffonade with just enough dressing to evenly coat the greens. Add the dressed spinach to the couscous mixture and toss gently to blend evenly. Serve.

Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing
Makes 1 1/4 cups

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup light cream
1/3 cup finely minced fresh chives
1. In a small jar, combine the lemon juice and the salt. Cover and shake to dissolve the salt. Add the cream and chives. Shake to blend. Taste for seasoning. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to one week. Shake to blend again before serving.


Rachel C. said...

Oh what a horrible ordeal to go through. I'm so glad things turned out okay.

When I was almost three years old, apparently I wandered out of the house wearing nothing but a diaper. My poor mother searched the streets sobbing, until a police car pulled up -and there I was sitting in the front seat, calm as ever.

The police officer was mean and chewed her out for letting me wander off. As if she hadn't been through enough already.

Glad El Guille is safe and sound.

Rynell said...

You scared me! I know that fear of not being able to find your child. I am so glad he's safe.

pflower10 said...

Poor little guy. My son was a wanderer when he was little too, made me CRAZY!!!!

Thanks for the recipe's.

miggy said...

Oh. Sad, but such a sweet image of him running to you at the end. . . makes my little heart melt.

sue-donym said...

Thank you for getting my heart started so early in the morning today. I am so glad it all turned out okay.

And thank you for the couscous recipe. WIll you make it for me?

kristenlibrarian said...

Thank goodness you found little El Guille and that he was okay! What a scary situation. I'll bet he learned a good lesson, though.

I wandered off once from my mom when I was about two. She was shopping, took her eyes off of me for just a moment and I was gone. She found me a few isles over. Some nuns were watching me as I threw packages of nylons all over the floor. Good times.

I can't WAIT to try that delish dish! Sounds like something I could make for my house warming party!

Michelle said...

that is horrifying! I've been with a friend when her child went MIA, very frightening. So glad to hear your happy ending.

Julie said...

Damn, girl. You do have a way of making my heart drop clear down into my stomach and then swell so much it makes my eyes water. I am so relieved that El Guille is safe and sound.

How ever did you write that in such a calm tone? I still can't write about the time one of my boys nearly drowned last summer. I can't relive it yet without feeling panicky.

Cindy said...

Ooh, scary! I'm glad you found him.

I heard about the Santa movie from and saw that Topher was in it and want to see it so bad, but I live far away. I don't know that Topher even knows who I am, but I believe he's a comic genius.

I'm going to use your couscous recipe for a bbq I'm going to on Thursday. Check my blog for pictures!

more caffeine, please said...

Holy couscous I'm glad this story ended happily and with a great recipe.

April said...

So scary!! It doesn't take long for a kid to disappear sometimes. I'm so glad you had a happy ending.

I guess when my grandma was 3, she wandered off sometime around twilight, and it got dark quickly. She wasn't found until the next morning, sleeping in a nearby field!! Crazy. I would be so frantic.

Emily said...

I've a prone-to-wander two year old of my own and I've never felt my heart sink like it does at the possibility of a missing child, my own or someone else's -- so horrifying. Glad El Guille didn't get far.

p.s. I posted a sorf of political-ish article at my "blog house" and I'd love for you to come over and chat about it...if you have a minute.

TĂȘtue said...

Oh, El Guille! I'm glad you found him without too much trauma. Poor little guy. But I can't say as I blame him. Dogs are mighty tempting.

Once I walked away from my mom in a department store when I was little. When she came to get me from the service desk she wasn't the least bit relieved--she was mad that I had walked away. So much for the touching reunion.

tiff-fay-fay said...

Not that I'm a promoter of losing children, but I just think I might die if I lost one of mine. Unfortunately, once I was at the mall and lost Susie's Ethan. We were playing at the tree thing, and then he was gone. I looked for 5 minutes before calling her on her cell to come back. Losing someone else's child also creates the crazed mom emotions. It was awful. Apparently, he wanders off frequently. I haven't gone back to the tree with him since. My heart couldn't handle it.

Em said...

OH - my heart just dropped when I read this! Holy couscous indeed!

c jane said...

Was Percy out looking for him?

Man, I love that kid.

undefined said...

This is such a touching post! My heart raced a little as I read it, and I am more glad than you know that it has a happy ending. Then I had a good laugh, as it reminded me of the time, a few years ago, when my brother and his family were in the backyard. My nephew (who was then three or four) went through the open back door to get his cup of water from the dining room table. When my brother turned around, not only was his son gone, but the back door was also closed ... and locked from the inside. He heard rather maniacal laughter and looked over the 6-foot fence to see his son running down the sidewalk, giddy with the pleasure of having pulled one over on dad. And stripping as he ran. By the time my brother got him, he was completely naked and more than a block away. Ah, good times.

b. said...

Glad this story had a good ending.
My younger two were wanderers, I'm with Julie though...I can't even think about those times without my heart doing flip flops.

I've never had couscous.

The movie was good.

Geo said...

You gave me a choke and two teary eyes. Glad your little man is safe.

That salad wants to be tried . . . today.