Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Lovely Winter's Day

The Winter Storm came and is it ever beautiful. Please know that with all this warm weather, we have been Storm deprived. Anything that bears any semblance of "normal" is cause for celebration. We 3 C's try never to complain when Weather is in its normal cycle. I don't think that we are "normal" for our kind, but that is OK. In some mixed up times, it is a privilege to step outside the expected path.

And so what did we do on this lovely winter day?  Melanie and I went for a walk.  Richard let us know that we should cover our faces because the wind was stout.  And so we did.  We went through the Woods where it was quiet.  We stood by the pond and watched the ice which had about 3 feet of water around the outside. That must be because the ground is warm?

In walking on the east edge of the property, we found ourselves walking against the north-north westerly wind.  Our heads were down and we didn't say much.  The wind whistled and took on a bit of a roar.  Trees in the fence row creaked and groaned.  Tracks filled in.  Who had been there before? When we got closer to the House, Melanie took a fork in the road to head over to her Cottage Site while I headed inside.

Richard has a cold so for him it was a slow day.  That's good.  I made breakfast which was more like brunch.  I headed into Kristina's Spirit of the Harvest:  North American Indian Cooking.  I made Corn Griddle Cakes and were they good and simple too.  The recipe included cornmeal, flour (I used Pamela's bread baking mix), yeast, optional sugar (I omitted), salt, and milk (I used almond and coconut milks).

I had designated this as the day to get started canning Chicken.  We have a little Chicken remaining from 2010 in the freezer downstairs.  Soon we will be getting a quarter of Beef which will test our freezer capacity.  The usual process is to can meat from the year before (Chicken, Beef, Venison).  We just love Canned Meat.  The Chickens were simmering until the meat fell off the bones.  The next stage was to cool it down.  This evening, Melanie and I will take the meat from the bones and tomorrow we will do 2 canner loads.  They will be according to 3 varieties:  mostly Meat (for Chicken Salad), Meat and Broth (as starter for Soup), and Broth (for recipes which call for Broth and those "sick days" when Chicken Broth just hits the spot).  The Pressure Canner will do 7 Quarts or 10 Pints.  Considering all the time required (including cooling), it's a big commitment.

Melanie worked on her little "Pouch" which is made of her 1st yarns that she has spun.  She finished it and it looks sweet.  Soon, I will have my camera and we will be back on track with visual images.  Not now.  I will talk about it just to tease you.

Our Amish neighbor to the east came over to use the phone.  He does this on average of once a week.  It is always great to visit with him and "catch up" if only for a few minutes.  We are all really busy.  On his way in, he swept off the Snow from the back porch.  He used the phone and talked quite loud.  All 3 of us were in the living room (with him on the phone).  All of a sudden he was quite self conscious. "I don't need to talk so loud.  It's not like I am outside by myself."  We all laughed. On his way out, he said that they would be happy to help us "dig out" if we ever need them.  I am not sure how we would get the message to him as he doesn't have a phone.

We had a Christmas Card returned which was addressed to Joan F. up in the North Country.  Someone had written "deceased".  We were really saddened by that but were not surprised since she was the same age as Mom.  We adored Joan.  She was an amazing woman.  She and her husband were involved in prairie restoration in the 1960s long before it was socially acceptable.  Throughout her life, she collected native plants and put them in special places in her yard and the yards of others she loved.  She always had a story to tell.  I cherish the day that she took me up to the Native Prairie Land that she and her husband had restored (with some help from folks with professional knowledge of such things).

When she got word that we were moving back to Missouri onto a little Farm, she marched herself right over. I responded to the doorbell, she came right inside with her Rainbow Cane, parked the Cane by the door and headed over to the Dining Room Table.  Clunk clunk clunk.  "If you are going to move to a Farm, these are some lessons you need to learn."  I wish I had taped it.  I remember 2:  (1) "Get Goats."  (2) "Sometimes your husband will do something that you don't necessarily like to do and you will need to help him.  Don't think about it. Just do it."  When the lessons for the day were complete, she headed back to the door, picked up her cane, and was gone.

I do remember she was the 1st person I ever knew who said that she had seen 7 generations of her own family, back to her ancestors and through herself and her great grandchildren.  She knew she was the matriarch of her family and she was proud of it.  In a culture which denigrates age and women specifically, I shall always cherish the role model that she provided.

It seems like an appropriate time to propose a toast to Joan.  We are deeply blessed that we got to know her.  She is one of those ladies that regardless of when you think of her, you just have to smile.  That's a legacy to which to aspire.

As we moved into late afternoon, I headed back into Kristina's cookbook.  This cookbook of Native American recipes is just superb.  It is fast becoming one of my new best friends.  The cookbook includes the story of the recipe, tribes, natural history.  The recipes are pretty basic but excellent.  We usually have most everything on hand.  Tonight, we are having "Grouse Stewed with Greens" (page 130).  Ingredients include Grouse (we are using a Free Range Chicken of about 2 1/2 pounds), bacon drippings, wild lamb's quarter (which we love and we are surely to run out), green onions (we used leeks and garlic), dried mint.  We added some dried corn.  The recipe recommends that the Soup is served over the Corn Griddle Cakes.  We have 3 left from Brunch, or at least we did at last count.  They have had a habit of disappearing.

In the meantime, Melanie is back at her Spinning Wheel.  Its rhythmic sound is a comfort and a lesson that life just goes on and on.

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