Today, friends are coming over for lunch, and yesterday I made a big batch of minestrone soup using lots of Farmer Kev’s vegetables: yellow and green beans, yellow summer squash, garlic, and carrots. The soup is warming in my trusty Crock-Pot as I write. I’ll be making corn bread to go with it.
This Saturday, we will be going to Cinema Explorations, the winter film series Clif and I helped organise for Railroad Square Cinema. In the afternoon, Mike, Shannon, and the dogs will be coming over to the little house in the big woods to celebrate Mike’s birthday.
A busy but fun weekend that will certainly perk up this housebound family.
It’s official. The snow is so deep in the backyard that the cellar windows are completely blocked, and when you look out, all you see is a white wall. As my daughter Shannon put it, we have gotten four feet of snow in one week. Surely that must be some kind of record for the most snow in the shortest amount of time. With all this snow, those who ski, snowshoe, or snowmobile must be pretty darned happy.
It has also been very cold, which makes the snow light and subject to drifting. Even in our yard, which is surrounded by trees and thus shielded from the wind, the snow has been sculpted into huge mounds. On this sunny day, the blue-shadowed snow surrounds the little house in the big woods, and it reminds me of a desert, with shifting snow rather than shifting sand.
The next four days, the weather is supposed to be fairly decent, with perhaps just a bit of snow—four inches or so—to remind us that winter still has a grip on us.
With all the clean-up we must do, I can’t call winter restful. There’s nothing relaxing about hours of shoveling day after day. Still, despite the hard work, I am dazzled by the beauty of this desert of snow I find myself in.
Soon I will go out to do more shoveling. Soon I will refill the bird feeders that have been mobbed by hungry birds—finches, titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, and blue jays. The mourning doves, crows, and squirrels hunt for fallen seed in the snow. After I fill the feeders, I will be sure to scatter seed for them, too. Little tunnels indicate other rodents gather seed beneath the feeders.
These creatures somehow survive the cold weather. Fluffy feathers, thick fur, underground burrows all help. But I am grateful for my own snug home and my well-stocked pantry and freezer, filled with so many good things.
Soup will soon be on the menu. Warm, nourishing, economical, exactly the right kind of meal when you are surrounded by a snow desert.
Yesterday, we visited our friend Diane, and upon returning and driving through the tunnel of snow that is now our driveway, my husband, Clif, observed, “You should call this the little house in the big snow.” Duly observed, and he couldn’t be more right.
I’m not sure if the pictures adequately show just how deep the snow is around our house, but in the shot below, it looks as though the snow is up to the windows. That’s because it is. While we don’t have the most snow ever—one winter the snow was up to the bottom of our outdoor lantern—it seems as though it’s the most snow we’ve gotten in the shortest amount of time—two feet of snow promptly followed by another foot of snow with yet another foot of snow predicted for today.
And how cold it is. When I went outside to take pictures of our snow-bound house, the snow squeaked beneath my shoes, and I wasn’t suprised to learn that the temperature was still at zero degrees, even though it was midmorning.
So, more clearing of snow this afternoon. High winds are predicted to go along with the storm, which means we have to worry about our power going out. Clif is working at home today, and we’ll have our big meal at noon—a strata using Farmer Kev’s broccoli. That way, we’ll have plenty of time to do the dishes and clean the kitchen before the winds come.
Because of the weather, Clif and I have been pretty house-bound, and although we love our home, there comes a point where we both feel a little stir crazy. How good it was, then, to visit our friend Diane. We had tea, a tasty bread made from exotic grains—can’t remember what they were—that gave a lovely carob flavor to the loaf. Best of all was the conversation. We talked about the burgeoning food movement in Maine—the increase in young farmers and co-ops. We talked about the number of people struggling to afford good food—Diane volunteers at her local soup kitchen and food pantry, and she has seen first hand how the Great Recession has affected people. She told us about a Japanese drumming concert she recently attended and how she met a man who was planning on opening a noodle shop on Munjoy Hill.
“Let’s all go when it opens,” I said. Clif and I rarely eat out anymore. With many places charging $10 for lunch, it’s become too expensive for us. But Clif and I are suckers for noodle shops—we found a great one in New York City once when we were visiting Dee—and noodles are usually very affordable.
When we left Diane’s house, a nearly-full moon was rising, framed by a neighbor’s roof and the bare branches of a large, dark tree. The sky was a deep blue, and how beautiful the winter sky was at twilight.
We stopped at Reny’s on the way home, and we got some wicked good deals, as we Mainers like to say.
All in all, a great way to cap off a delightful afternoon.