Even without sunshine, there is a sparkle in the snow……
When you don’t want to go shopping, but you want to turn your home into a winter wonderland for when your children will all, hopefully, be home for Christmas, the best thing to do is to venture out into the forest with a pair of sharp clippers.
Experimenting with the art of wreath making first happened many years ago on a crispy, late fall day when a friend of mine and I thought that snipping evergreen branches, wiring these onto frames, then decorating them with various Christmas ornaments would be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. And it was.
Since those earliest wreath making days, I’ve built wreaths with friends at commercial garden centers, and for the past couple of years with others at a friend’s tree farm. As much as I enjoyed these outings, there is nothing quite like venturing out into your own forest, with a sharp pair of clippers.
I am being hopeful that we will all be together to celebrate Christmas this year.
If not, may my little winter wonderland bring joy to those passing by during these very strange times.
Years ago, my husband and I went to visit his old Uncle Eldie. The visit must have taken place in the fall of the year as the conversation quickly turned to the production of saurkraut.
On returning home, we proceeded to slice, pound and salt some heads of fresh, green cabbage. Once arranged, we allowed the crock pot a special spot in our apartment.
In a few weeks a very, unfriendly smell permeated the rooms of our home. Upon realizing the source of the offending odour, into the garbage went the fermenting cabbage. A quick phone call went out to Uncle Eldie requesting clearer instructions for his age old recipe. The old uncle laughed quietly and shared that the ominous odour was a necessary part of the fermentation process.
Our second attempt proved successful. The crock full of cabbage became a crunchy saurkraut, with a taste that my husband loves but can’t find adequate words to discribe.
In the move, to the home in which we continue to live, our old crock pot cracked. Life got busy, and the thought of making saurkraut got lost along the way.
This fall, with a crock borrowed from a friend, we once again set out to ferment some cabbage. Having forgotten some of Eldie’s teachings, the cabbage was sliced not quite thin enough, and the pounding was neglected. Still, fermentation took place. Just a couple of extra weeks were necessary for that perfect batch of saurkraut to happen.
Not yet comfortable with my fermenting skills, most of this batch recieved a hot water bath. A Mason jar of raw saurkraut will continue to ferment in our refrigerator. If all goes well, next year at this time we my need a second fridge.
I once had this friend who delighted in sharing a story about how, on one boring Saturday night, herself, her boyfriend, and another couple decided to go cowtipping.
She described how they drove down dark country roads until they came upon a pasture full of cows.
They dimmed the car lights, and turned off the engine. Slowly and stealthily, they crept through long grasses to the fence. Silently, they successfully scaled the cold, metal wires. They spotted their subject, a tall, black and white holsten cow. They moved ever so slowly until they were by it’s side. Together, they placed four pairs of shaking hands onto it’s beautiful, smooth back, and with a push and a shove, and a heave and a ho, a successfully tipped cow!
They then made a very rapid escape, fearing the wrath of the herd that had surrounded the downed cow.
I didn’t believe, then, that her story was true and am still hoping that cowtipping is a figment of an over active imagination.
Having grown up on a farm with lots of cows, I’m thankful this tale was told to me after our farming days were over. The thought of succumbing to peer pressure and attempting to tip a cow is not something I want to visualize.
As it is, my most daring cow escapade was one of finding that perfect cowpie. A fresh cowpie, with a lightly crisp crust. A cowpie, meant for squishing into with one’s barefeet. Feeling that slimy, oozing goo move between one’s toes.
My apologies to those with sensory issues, but this is truly one of my favourite childhood memories. That and the memory of our last cow. A big, black cow with a white head, I can’t remember it’s name but it loved to join our Sunday afternoon baseball games. Tall and strong in the outfield, far enough away as not to get hit by a fly ball, but close enough to be a part of the action.
If you want to build a cedar bench,
this is what you do.
You invite a Sparks leader,
and her Sparks pack too.
They will plant a row of cedar seedlings,
they’ll plant them in the sun.
Declaring that doing so, is lots and lots
Next you wait, and wait, and wait,
for 25 to 30 years or so.
Then trim the bottom of the tree,
clearing space for the lawn mower to go.
Next, take the curviest of the boughs,
strip them of their branches.
Find a hammer and some nails,
and then you take some chances.
When the boughs have been secured,
some feet really need to be procured.
The walnut tree we trimmed last year,
provided the legs,
so that we can sit right here.
How beautiful leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days. John Burrough.
Every leave speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn. Emily Bronte.
Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. Elizabeth Lawrence.
Autumn is a second spring when every leave is a flower. Albert Camus.
Winter is an etching, spring is a watercolour, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. Stanley Harowitz.
Autumn winds begin to blow. Coloured leaves fall fast and slow.
Whirling, twirling all around,
Till at last they touch the ground.
Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.
William Callen Bryant
When I was a teenager, we had this handsome, nasty, aggressive old Banty Rooster. He was a beautiful, boastful, prideful, arrogant individual that would attack me at every opportunity. Whenever I approached the barn, I would do so slowly, searching out every beam, every corner, every cervice, for that darn bird.
Not spying him, I would confidently enter, and then BANG, out of nowhere would he would appear. Rusty, adequately named for the brilliant bronze feathers that graced his scruffy neck, the bronze illuminating the blues, greens and reds that adorned his body, would fly at me, in all his glory, not relenting till I fled the barn for safer pastures.
This old rooster is a hen, she is made of metal and cannot fly. I have lovingly recreated her into something completely new. She will find a new home, in the spring, amongst the trees in our garden.
A good friend of mine has loaned me a book called Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen. A beautiful picture book of amazing older women. Each elegant and refined, determining their own style and flash. Just like the recreation of my old bird, above, we continuously redefine ourselves, adding colour and glam, often creating someone completely different as we journey through the chapters of our life.
I remember going to the grocery store, when I was first married, and buying a head of lettuce. This, oddly enough, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
Unti then, for me, lettuce was something that you gathered from the garden and was eaten, in season, from early spring til late summer. Winter foods included kale, root vegetables and green beans from the freezer. Lots and lots of green beans.
I haven’t had a real vegetable garden in more than 20 years, and with a property with very poor soil; we live on a road with several gravel pits, we decided, this time around, to go with raised garden beds.
Our plan was to build two, 8 feet by 4 foot beds. Due to covid19, our local lumber supplier had a shortage of lumber and so, for the same price, we now have two 10 feet by 5 foot garden beds.
After constructing the bed frames we covered the ground with cardboard, then added a layer of old, decaying wood. On top of this we spread a ton of last year’s leaves. Topsoil, from different parts of our acreage then topped up the beds. A large bucket of old horse manure, from our wonderful neighbour @Hawks Landing, was blended into this top layer.
Today, our first crop of locally grown garlic cloves, carefully spaced to break my habit of planting things too close together resulting in very little produce, entered the ground. A blanket of straw from our favourite farmers market, Harris Farms, will keep these little bulbs warm and comfortable during our snowy winter months.
Our hope is that, next summer, we will be able to provide ourselves with fresh produce, with extra for our local Food Bank.
We’re planning on growing a variety of vegetables, but no green beans!