First Lunch on the Patio

On Saturday, the weather was so fine—at least by Maine standards—that Clif and I had our first lunch on the patio. The temperature was about 65°F with a gentle breeze. For two winter-weary elders, it was warm enough for us to leave our jackets inside as we sat and ate.

Clif made potato pancakes for our lunch. In the picture, they look like regular pancakes, but they had a lovely mashed potato and Parmesan taste. We slathered them with butter and liberally sprinkled them with salt. Very tasty indeed. Especially when eaten on the patio.

As we ate, we were treated to all manner of fluttering birds and their spring songs. The wary goldfinches, cheeping loudly, clustered in a big cedar as they waited for us to leave.

But this bird was a little braver. (I’m thinking it’s a flycatcher. Eliza, what do you think?)

And the mourning dove felt perfectly comfortable patrolling for spilled seeds not far from where we sat.

Watching over everything was the backyard Spirit of the Woods.

I know. It’s really a dead tree that should come down before it falls where we don’t want it to fall. But I will be sorry when the tree no longer stands. Not only will we lose the wood spirit, but the birds will lose a place to hunt for tidbits.

But there. For several years, Clif and I have talked about taking that tree down, and still it stands. I am hoping the tree will be there for several more years.

After lunch, I worked on removing leaves from the beds in the front yard. Why is it that outside work is more satisfying than inside housework? It probably has something to with the sun and the sky and the birds, none of which are as present when you are inside.

Later on during the weekend, thanks to technology, I visited with my daughters and my son-in-law, and much of the talk was about politics and the coronavirus.

I also “attended” Rassemblement, a yearly gathering of Franco-American artists, writers, and creatives. Usually it is held at the University of Maine at Orono, but in this time of the coronavirus, it was held virtually.

The theme of this year’s gathering was legacy. This is from the Franco American Programs website: “The dictionary definition of legacy is, ‘Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past.’ As Franco Americans, what was handed down to us? And how does this gift act as both an impetus to create and as a restriction on our creations? What are we handing down to those who come after us? What was and is our legacy?”

Someone—ahem!—might have brought up that one of the legacies of Franco-Americans is that it was a patriarchal ethnic group, with an unhealthy separation of men and women. A spirited discussion ensued.

But more about that later.






76 thoughts on “First Lunch on the Patio”

  1. I find your information about Franco-Americans interesting, as last year I discovered I’m among them. 🙂 I started doing family geneaology and managed to trace many branches back 6+ generations, including 10 generations of my dad’s mother’s line. She didn’t know about her French Canadian heritage because her grandmother and great-grandfather had been born in Belgium. Before that, her line was French Canadian and some First Nations going back to the early 1600s.

      1. Yes, from France to Quebec with the first wave, then to other provinces, then briefly to Belgium and on to Wisconsin. 🙂

  2. Mmmm, I haven’t had potato pancakes in years. They look so good. I might have to find a recipe and make some. I’ve found my mind wandering towards different kinds of foods the longer we are cooped up.

  3. The pirates pancakes look great. Do you have them fairly often throughout the year? I like to eat them with a spoonful or two of applesauce atop each one. Bye till next time.

  4. I like your spirit and your strong opinions, Laurie. Good for you. Those potato pancakes look and sound delicious. I’ve never met a potato that I didn’t like. 😉 As for eating outdoors, we’ve done a lot of that too in the past week. It opens up the world. Though this is perhaps not scientifically true, I think food tastes better when consumed in nature. xo

    1. I agree food tastes better outside, especially when birds are singing. As for speaking up…I probably should have added that the facilitator asked us to discuss negative aspects of our culture. So I did. 😉

    1. Sure does. And in my defense, the facilitator asked us to discuss some of the negative aspects of our culture. Probably should have mentioned this. 😉

  5. I had to laugh. I’ve not heard the phrase “Franco-American” for years, and every time I do come across it, I think first of Franco-American food products. Granted, your potato pancakes would beat any kind of canned spaghetti, hands down, but still — when I was a kid, their canned spaghetti and meatballs was one of the first lunches I learned to “cook” for myself.

    As for being outdoors and its advantages and pleasures? Absolutely. One of the best decisions I made was to give up a professional career for boat varnishing. I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.

  6. Yay, for the inaugural luncheon on the patio! Saturday was a splendid day for sure – you may have been even a few degrees warmer than we were. We got a couple yards of compost and leaf mulch out on the gardens – a successful day!
    Your bird looks like an Eastern Phoebe.
    I’m glad you are leaving your tree snag up. It is more alive than it appears! I call them Birdie B&Bs. 🙂 Cavity nesters like chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers favor snags. Unless a tree threatens your home or car, I’d leave it up.

    1. Eastern Phoebe was our second guess. Thanks for identifying it. The tree would fall on the garden but not the house or car. I expect it will stay there for a while. 😉

  7. Interesting topics in this post. I will just mention that I love potato pancakes, so although I just ate, you’re making me hungry. Eating outside made it extra special, I’m thinking.

  8. Oh yes, potato pancakes, they might be needed for lunch on our deck today! Unfortunately our days are getting cooler as autumn starts to close in…I’ll be looking out for all your summer photos in a month or so.

  9. You and Derrick–I’d like to be around with both of you talking and eating in your gardens. Potato pancakes. it’s been a long time since I had those. Yum.

  10. I too love eating outside and the first of any such is extra special. You have got me thinking about legacy. I understand quite a bit about family legacies as you may have gathered but my cultural one is harder to see. This area is not very munti-cultural which probably doesn’t help – I am surrounded by people who make the same assumptions as me.

      1. I think that is true. I have visitedother culutres for short periods of time and have friends from other backgrounds but the differences only come into sharp relief occasionally.

      2. In Maine, there are four main groups: Yankees, decided from the English and Scots; Franco-Americans, from French Canadians; and Native Americans, and Irish Americans. All very distinctive in cultural personalities. I like to say I have a mixed marriage because I married a Yankee.

      3. Thank you for the explanation. MY ignorance of America is considerable but I am ejoying learning more.

  11. Doesn’t sunshine and warm weather make all the difference to one’s mood. Haven’t opened our porch yet, I’m a wimp where spring temperatures are concerned.

    1. It sure does! And a couple of days ago, Clif and I were talking about how wimpy we’ve become about cold and cool weather. Must have something to do with getting old. But the day on the patio warm enough to be comfortable. Looking forward to more of them.

  12. Eating outside on the patio in April in Main is very special! And oooooh….I just printed up a recipe for potato pancakes, sounds kinda like what you guys had!

  13. Outside housework is definitely better than inside housework and those potato pancakes look like something I should make.

  14. Potato pancakes look fantastic and what wonderful visitors and day to begin outdoor dining season! It’s wonderful people have been able to at least see one another virtually during these times and looking forward to reading more about your spirited discussion and virtual conference!

  15. That’s a grand patio opening! 🙂 The pancakes look great and sound very tasty, will try it out the next time I have leftover mash. x

  16. The potato pancakes sound wonderful. The spirited discussion about ‘a patriarchal ethnic group, with an unhealthy separation of men and women’ sounds slightly less enticing. That’s probably why the men separate, to get some peace…

  17. PS When we had a dead tree cut, we kept a tall snag, not so tall it would fall and hit anything much, and it has been very interesting to watch its slow decomposition.

Comments are closed.