Snowy Sunday: Time for Soup and Good Conversation

Yesterday started out as a gray, snowy day. Overnight about four inches of snow fell, which meant Clif had to go out with Little Green to clear the driveway and paths.

Liam, dog of the north, checked out the backyard while Clif worked out front.

Just as Clif finished cleaning the driveway, the sun came out, turning a dull morning into a sparkling day. I have discovered that my bathroom “blind”—where I can open the window and take pictures of birds—also gives me a pleasing vantage point to take shots of the snow and the backyard. As the photos indicate, everything still looks like a winter wonderland, but that is normal for Maine in February.

Here’s a zoom look into the woods, where you can see the snow blowing off the trees.

A snowy day is also a good soup day, and the day before, I had made a white bean soup with chicken sausage, ground turkey, carrots, celery, peppers, and plenty of herbs and spices. That way, all I would need to do was heat the soup when our friend Alice Bolstridge came for lunch.

All right. I also made corn bread, salad, and apple crisp to go with the soup. But the main part of the meal was done and could simmer all morning as I put together the other parts of our lunch.

Alice, a very fine writer, lives in northern Maine, which means we don’t see her very often. But this year, to add some dash to winter, which is even longer up north than it is in central Maine, Alice decided to come to Augusta during the legislative session to acquaint herself with how our state government works. She has rented a room in a lovely old home and goes to various legislative committee meetings, which are open to the public. On occasion, she testifies. Alice even has a blog—Alice on Peace and Justice— where she describes the various sessions she has attended.

No surprise, then, that the afternoon zipped right by as we talked about politics, books, family, and a myriad of other things that cascaded from these subjects. When it was late afternoon, Alice said, “My goodness, I stayed a long time.”

“I’m so glad you did,” I replied.

“There’s no pleasure like good conversation,” Alice said.

“None at all,” I agreed.

Alice is absolutely right. Spring, summer, fall, or winter, there are few pleasures that can compete with having friends over—either for tea or for a meal—and then sit around the dining room table where we talk and eat. It’s a simple pleasure, a respite in a world that is often busy and rushed.

 

 

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Five for Friday: Chinese Food and Blue, Blue Skies

This week brought us Valentine’s Day. (To my way of thinking, a holiday devoted to chocolate should be celebrated by everyone, single folks as well as couples.)  Even though I was fortunate enough to receive a box of See’s chocolates as an early Valentine’s present, I figured, why not guild the lily and go out to lunch, too? When it comes to having fun, I am not a minimalist. So off to Lucky Gardens we went, for their tasty buffet.

The week was warm, warm, warm, even making it up to 50°F on Thursday. After the cold weather we have had this winter, the air felt positively tropical. Grabbing my wee wonder of a camera, I headed into town to see how things looked by Marancook Lake.

The sky was an impossible blue, so deep, so vivid that it almost looked as though it had been computer generated.

Even though it was warm, and there was open water by the shores, there were still plenty of ice-fishing shacks on the mostly frozen lake.

On the road by the lake, there’s a little bridge, plain and nowhere near as lovely as you would find, say, in Scotland. But if you cross the road, stand on the bridge, and look toward town, you will see a pleasing tableau, a classic New England scene.

If you look closer, you will even see some ducks—mallards, I think—swimming in the open water.

We are over half-way through February, and the days are getting longer. Dusk doesn’t come until 5:30 now, a real bonus to Clif and me as we have gotten to the age where we don’t like driving when it’s dark.

I am always sorry to leave beautiful, snowy February behind. Ahead of us lies the dreary month of March, and I’ll try not to whine too much when it comes.

In the meantime…here’s to the rest of February!

 

 

A Tray Full of Treats, A Basket Full of Cat

Yesterday, on a gray, drizzly February Sunday—Oh, how Mainers hate drizzle in the winter—we had friends over for an afternoon of food and good conversation. The food was simple—snacks and pizza—which meant we could chat with our guests without too much fussing in the kitchen.

Before the Super Bowl, on Facebook , I  had discovered an idea for serving snacks. I was so taken with the way the food looked that I decided to try it for this gathering. Really, the idea couldn’t be more simple—array an assortment of snacks on a tray—and here is what I did.

To a combination of crackers, cheese, and crunchy snacks, I added homemade clam dip (upper right-hand corner) and chocolate-covered peanuts that Clif and I had dipped ourselves. It was a fun way of serving appetizers, and I plan on doing this for future gatherings.

Our friends also brought treats to share, and Dawna used a nifty basket to carry hers. Sherlock always loves anything he can climb into, and it didn’t take him long to investigate the empty basket.

After appetizers, we had Clif’s pizza.

And ice cream and pie for dessert. (Alas, I didn’t get a picture.)

It was one of those happy gatherings where six like-minded people ate and talked past dusk right into the night. When our friends were ready to go, I looked at my watch and could hardly believe what I saw—it was 9:45 p.m.

Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

From Sublime to Silly

The other day, when I came home from doing errands, our yard was filled with the beautiful light that comes just before dusk. Time to take some pictures On one side of our driveway is the forest, and it was awash in the golden glow of the setting sun.

On the other side of our driveway is our small front yard. Last fall, I left a few of the sturdier ornaments in the garden, and there they were, just peeking over the deep snow.

From sublime to silly all in the same yard. Sometimes, point of view depends upon which way you look.

The Ugly, the Beautiful, and the Welcome

At the beginning of the week, because of a nasty winter rain, the driveway and the walks at our house were treacherous. As I’ve noted many times, in Maine, we loathe rain in the winter. Back in the day, it wasn’t a worry. Now, however, rain in winter is becoming more and more common.

Looking at the icy paths, Clif said, “Time for wood ash.”

“I hate how messy it is,” I replied. “But we don’t want to risk falling.”

So out came the wood ash, making the walks and the driveway safe but ugly and dirty.

Lucky for us, we have a beautiful dog of the north to brighten our day.

Then, just as we were wondering if we were going to have two months of hideous March weather, along came a welcome snowstorm on Wednesday that gave us eight inches of light snow, no rain, no wind, and, best of all, no worries about power outages.

During the storm, here’s a photo I took from my “bathroom blind,” of a junco on top of the bird feeder. I really like the contrast of the dark gray against the white snow. I also like the way you can see the blur of the snowstorm in this photo.

Yesterday morning, with the sun rising and the sky clear, I saw that the storm had wiped away all traces of ugliness. However, this meant work for Clif and Little Green.  Note the wall o’snow at the end of our buried driveway.

The front yard is once again a sea of clean snow.

Exactly right for Maine in February.

 

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