Columbus Day, 2014: Grilled pizza, Rice Krispies Squares, Yellow Jackets, and Shots in the Woods

IMG_6798Yesterday, Columbus Day, was sunny and warm, a perfect day for a visit from Shannon and Mike and their two dogs—Holly and Samara. Because of his work schedule, we haven’t seen Mike for quite a while, not since he started his new job at Craft Beer Cellar. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that Mike is a beer connoisseur, and he has developed quite a discriminating palate. He is currently studying to get his cicerone certification, at which point Mike will be a true beer expert.

As I listened to Mike talk about the various types of beer he has tasted and sells, it occurred to me that beer has become as nuanced—and as pricey!—as wine. We’ve come a long way from the days when there was a limited selection of beer at the grocery store, and Heineken was pretty much as good as it got.

Full disclosure: I really don’t like beer at all, and if someone insisted I drink a whole glass, it would be hard to maintain a pleasant expression. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to hear Mike talk about his new job, which he loves, and all the aspects of beer. On the other hand, Clif likes beer, and every time Mike comes, he brings a different variety for Clif to sample. Clif and Mike both know that beer is best enjoyed in moderation, and they never have more than two bottles each any time we get together. On our next trip to Portland, Clif will visit Mike at Craft Beer Cellar, get the official tour, and, of course, buy some beer. Shannon, who also doesn’t like beer, and I will stay behind and take the dogs for a walk.

On Monday, because the day was so fine, we had planned to spend most of it on the patio, but unfortunately, yellow jackets have taken up residency in one of my gardens out front. As soon as the beer, flavored water, chips, and dip came out, the yellow jackets joined us. It’s not much fun swatting yellow jackets and trying to avoid being bitten, so in we went to finish appetizers in the dining room.

However, grilled pizza was on the menu, so we went out with Clif while he grilled it, to keep him company. All of the sweet food stayed inside, and the yellow jackets didn’t bother us much at all. We ate the pizza inside, and when it was done, we decided to try having dessert on the patio. It was late afternoon, and significantly cooler than when we had started with appetizers. We figured it was too chilly for the little biting buzzers.

Our hunch about the yellow jackets was right. It was too cool for them to be buzzing about, and they left us alone as we drank tea and ate Shannon’s Rice Krispies treats. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, layered with roasted marshmallows, and dipped in chocolate, these were certainly deluxe Rice Krispie Treats, and they were utterly delicious. Clif and I couldn’t stop with just one.

As we finished dessert, we heard a blast of gunfire from the woods. It’s bird hunting season, and someone was out there trying to rustle up the ultimate free-range supper. Hearing gunshots so close is always disconcerting, and the sound of gunfire set the dogs off into a chorus of barking. Holly, in particular, has a deep, guard-dog bark, and she was quite concerned.

“Let them bark,” I said. “That way, the hunter will know he is not far from a house.”

“This is the one time of year I’m glad I don’t live in the woods,” Shannon said.

I understand how she feels. I don’t like hearing gunshot, either, especially when it’s close. But we’ve lived here for thirty years, and so far no bullets have come whizzing toward the house. When deer season is upon us, I dress in orange and bring the radio outside, cranking it as loud as it will go on a classic rock and roll station. I want hunters to know we are here.

Pizza, Rice Krispies treats, yellow jackets, gun shots. No one was bitten, no one was shot. The food was good, and the company was even better. I would have to say the good definitely outweighed the bad, but I’ll be glad when the yellow jackets go away, and hunting season is over.

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