Beach Cake Confessions

Elise here, and I need to share a thing or three.  Yeah, confession time.

I confess this cake was a selfish indulgence.

I confess it felt REALLY BAD to mar the artistry of this confection to slice it for sharing.

I confess that though we are mostly gluten and sugar free, this cake was amazing and after the first piece, I froze the rest.

So let’s talk about this selfish indulgence – it’s an anniversary cake (TWENTY YEARS?!?) but the theme is all Elise (and no Pat).

Here’s the thing – I love water. In the homestead house where I grew up, there was a pond down from our back yard.  I visited often, collecting tadpoles, fishing, chasing turtles.  Maybe that’s where it all began, in my back yard.

I don’t remember learning to swim, it’s just something that I have always been able to do.  I don’t think I ever took lessons, I would have to ask my mom.    

But growing up an only child, all of my fondest memories are centered around water.  The few small vacations we could afford, with my cousin and her family, were to Florida or Gulf Shores.  I loved the salt and the sand and searching for hermit crabs, fighting over floaties and burying our feet in the sand, collecting shells.  If we stayed in a hotel, I remember very little but night swimming and having pizza delivered poolside.  

If you know me well, you know I have a pretty wretched memory.  My childhood returns to me in fits and spurts, but the REST of my happy childhood memories are of camping at Lake Mary.   My grandparents had a camp there and we would go one to two weekends per month.  With my grandfather I “ran trot lines,” went jerkin’ for perch, maneuvered my own pirogue with a trolling motor, learned to ski, and once I even floated ALONE from our camp down into a channel.  On an inner tube.  By myself.  I must have been about eight years old.  

So yeah, I love water.  It’s difficult for me to understand people who don’t, or who are not as comfortable in the water as I am.  I have made sure all of my children are strong swimmers, and I have lived vicariously as they traveled and competed through the years for a local summer swim team.  I have taken many kids on outings to expose them to swimming, and help them learn confidence in water.  Just last week I worked with a fifteen-year-old teen deathly afraid of water.  An unfortunate practical joke played on him by a dumb uncle, and parents who never took him to be around water has left him completely paralized when near it.  After about 35 minutes of walking in the shallows, much repetitious encouragement, goggles and nose-holding, he finally put his face in the water and got his hair wet. I was so excited for him!

A few years ago I attended a photography conference in Florida where I learned underwater photography – flowing dresses, beautiful colors, it was amazing!  But when I returned to southwest Mississippi, I discovered there really wasn’t a market for underwater portraits.  A few clients that I did work with were a lot of fun, but the challenge was often getting them to relax in the water so I could pose the shot I wanted.  Why didn’t they love the water, like me?

This one time, in Africa (1998), I jumped off a high bank into hippo-infested water that was a bit too shallow.  I sprained an ankle and had to get help getting out. I still love rivers.  

For our honeymoon Pat and I road tripped across the US to Pere Marquette, Michigan.  We tried our hand at fly fishing. Definitely an auspicious beginning to our marriage – we’ve about come full circle.

A few years ago I had my first trip to the Louisiana bayou; several weekends of real saltwater, oysterbed, dodging shrimp boats, and shark fishing adventures.  I bought a Bubba blade and fileted my own catch.  No freezer should be without redfish!  

Last year Pat and I made a whirlwind self-guided driving tour around the mainland of Greece, where we got to swim in the Aegean, Ionic, and Saronic seas!

Last summer I did a Scout Mom thing and swam a mile across open water.  It was one of the most nerve-wracking activities I have ever had to complete.  I still love lakes.

Last month I got caught in a flash flood in the Ozarks, my capsized boat got sucked in a wash and broken; our group lost two boats and had to send an SOS via a satellite emergency beacon to Rangers to come help us to safety.  I free floated, half in my PFD for a mile or two, not sure where to get out and unable to swim strong enough to beat the raging current.  But I still love rivers.  

Beach, bayou, rivers, lakes and ponds.  It’s just my thing.  With my daughters we say that our gills are dry, we need to swim. 

When Rose posted on social media about a beach-themed cake, I just had to have it! And I still do (because I froze it before my kids could get into it).  I’ll indulge myself on special occasions… and next year, maybe I’ll get Pat an anniversary cake in the shape of hiking boots.   

Categories: Food, Swimming