Month: January 2018
Where “Silence is Golden”
I attended the early service, today, – the last Saturday in January. The morning was cold and still, but a mockingbird sang, anyway. For a little while, the woods at the back of the field, looked aflame. Then, the light changed from a bold amber to a soft yellow . . . and so the day was born, in this manner. I watched through the window, by the “morning table”, while my boxer, Cash and my cat, Christopher Robin, slept. It was Saturday, after all, and no one was rushing about-in all the world, as far as I could tell.
The coldest days of my life, happened in January. We had snow twice-and so we had snow cream. . . and Lyla built her first snowman. School was cancelled on a good many days. The Christmas tree was taken down along with the vases of fresh pine. . and the Christmas closet holds very few secrets now. . . and Jenny had a birthday. The remnants of January are upon us and it to seemed to me, that January, like the snow, was a brief affair.
I haven’t any lofty plans this week end. There is housekeeping and the territory, I call the rabbit patch, is showing signs of neglect. I am quite concerned for the “running periwinkle”as it looks badly burned from the sub zero temperatures, we had. I must encourage some of the rose bushes too. Besides that, there are small branches hither and yonder. I , also will hopefully cook a Sunday dinner and make a bread pudding stuffed with apples, for dessert.
The Afternoon, on Saturday
I did get the house mostly in order. Afterwards, I went out to a fair day -unseasonably warm, and set about to clean up the yard. I picked up sycamore branches and gathered enough to make a good sized pile. The sunlight was too faint to cast even the slightest shadow. It wasn’t long before, I reached the young woods, in the far corner of the territory. In the absence of rabbits and birds, the woods were silent. The air was so still, that the pine trees did not whisper. The muted gray and silver bark on the trees, the soft brown carpet of resting grasses and the russet pine straw were fitting hues for that moment. . .and so I lingered in the young woods, as if I was under some sort of spell and hadn’t a thing else to do.
I remembered not so long ago, the boys had forts in the woods and “property disputes” with one another. My little goats and chickens foraged there and the the woods were the place for the best Easter egg hunts. Then, we had evening fires that burned while marshmallows toasted on long sticks. Once, when my niece, Hayley was a child, we took an actual “midnight stroll” through the woods.
There is also a grave, of a beloved collie on the edge of the woods. It has a small foot stone .”Miss Sylvia” remembered the dog and the family that loved him. Hence, I have tended the grave of a dog that died, before I was born, for over a decade and named that place, “Collie Corner” . Now, irises, calla Lilies and a butterfly bush bloom with the wild honeysuckle, in “Collie Corner”.
Whenever, I visit with woods or fields, it has the effect of a tonic, on me. . .and today was no different. On the way back to the farmhouse, I stopped by the running periwinkle and found a few green sprouts, under the mulch. Maybe all is not lost, for the flowers started with cuttings, from my grandmother. This further renewed my spirit and by the time I came in the kitchen , I was humming.
To stand in the shadow of Greatness, does wonders for the soul and things growing wild lend a peace to the heart without worldly rival. Mankind can not take credit for such places nor claim any status. Nature does not show favoritism nor rank us according to appearance or ability. . .yet, I felt like an honored guest and privileged , while I stood in the midst of the woods in winter. . .where the robins nest . . .and “silence is golden”.
Tea Cakes-the recipe
Some of my favorite hours have always been in the kitchen. As a small child, I spent a good deal of my childhood in fields and woods. If I wasn’t there, I was probably playing in a barn . . .If I was in the house, I was most likely in the kitchen.
The women in my family cooked. In those days, processed food was in its’ early stages. I never saw things like “instant potatoes”, cake mixes and “Hamburger Helper”. Of course, this meant someone was usually in the kitchen . . . peeling potatoes, often.
The yellow and chrome kitchen table, in my grandmamas’ house, was the best place I knew of to tell secrets or to solve a mystery. I also could count on someone being in the kitchen, in the circumstances of bee stings and skinned knees-or when I couldn’t button a dolls’ dress. “The heart of the home”-was always in the kitchen. Maybe my love affair with kitchens spawned from those days. . . when Mama, Grandmama, and Aunt Josie were making things like banana pudding or rolling out dough for chicken and pastry.
Why cookies, of all things, have remained such a plight for me, is beyond me, but for the love of a grandchild, I will not give up. I can at least say now, I can bake “tea cakes” . . .and Lyla loves them.
“Tea cakes” are a shortbread type of cookie, but more “cake like” in texture. They are often paired with iced tea, in the south, but they go very well with coffee, too. They are a simple concoction of a very few ingredients, unlike “store bought” cookies, that lists dozens of artificial substances, and do not lend the heavenly aroma to the kitchen, as the tea cakes do.
1 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cup of sugar ( I tend to spill just a little sugar more, in the bowl)
1 tsp vanilla ( I spill vanilla too)
1/4 cup of milk
3 cups self-rising flour
Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Add flour and milk, slowly. Form dough into 2 loaves, and chill in freezer for about 20 minutes. By hand, form the chilled dough into small balls. Bake at 375 degrees, on a lightly floured cookie sheet-(I use a pizza stone), for ten minutes. Do not brown the cookies. This will make about forty cookies. I have halved the recipe, successfully. The cookies keep well for several days.
You will not need to ring a dinner bell, when tea cakes are cooking.
Church on a Monday
My early service was void of seeing the sun rise. I first woke, before light came to the world. I went out and was greeted by the cold dark remnants of a January night. I decided to go back to the warmth of a soft blanket, and there in lies the culprit. I got up again later and by then, the sun was up and shining. The cardinals were “on the wing” and so were some little chickadees. There was no snow left, anywhere to hinder their search for breakfast.
Jennys’ birthday lasted all week end, and I am not sure it is over yet. Yesterday afternoon, five young couples came over with all sorts of “party food”. These young women, are already experts at preparing fancy foods. They brought things like fancy vegetable sandwiches, and meatballs smothered in sauce. There were roasted peppers piled high with cheese , besides dips and nuts. Mandy, who has made quite a reputation for herself in flower arranging (and her business, Pansy & Ivy, is proof of that), brought a centerpiece and the birthday cake! It was a “made from scratch” strawberry cream cheese pound cake, and people left, talking about it. . . So now, Mandy is known for flowers –and cake.
Since, our school had a teacher work day, and Jenny had to attend her internship, I took the day off. Who could have known, that the day would be so mild and perfect weather, for strolling by the “laughing river” ?
Lyla and I strolled in the afternoon, under the faint January sun. We did hear the river laugh, lazily. The only other sound was a dog barking somewhere faraway. . and he only did so occasionally. It was a mostly silent venture, which seemed especially fitting for a walk in winter, when trees are bare and gardens lay barren.
Lyla counted four squirrels and two cats, before she fell asleep. And so, an hour slipped pleasantly by in a delightful way. I was not inclined to wish for the time of daffodils and tulips. I did not mourn for Christmas, but instead, I felt content with this day . . . with this season . . .with this hour. It was like “going to Church” , just to pray.
Supper was started, not long after we got back. Afterwards, I went out to see the “fingernail” moon and stars that looked like “silver dollars” in the winter sky. It made me want to sing a lovely benediction. . . for “my eyes had seen such glory” . . .and I was glad.
Happy Birthday Jenny!
Jennys’ birthday, dawned bright and clear, much like the day she was born. Lyla and I sang “Happy Birthday” several times before breakfast. Lyla wanted a cake and party hats to confirm the occasion, at breakfast.
At the early service, while robins sang morning music, I thought how glad I was to have a daughter, especially like my Jenny. Several squirrels were hurriedly burying acorns. Snow was still lying in shade and a cardinal looked as red as he ever had, when he stopped to watch the squirrels scampering wildly. It was a beautiful day for a birthday.
Jenny is my only daughter,born a few years after Brant. Three other brothers followed, til a decade has passed. Jenny seemed born with a maternal instinct. She was also quite domestic, and baked pies most every day. Her worst habit was drawing on walls. She grew up climbing trees and rambling in the woods. She also loved her dolls-one in particular, “Lady Jane”, that just happened to be a black rabbit, that wore a dress. Lady Jane was her constant companion and accompanied us most everywhere we went . . until, Jenny announced, one day, that Lady Jane had gotten married. After that, Lady Jane had a lot of housekeeping and children that needed tending ( some were kittens) -and so was mostly left at home.
Jenny as a child was very imaginative and talked to her shadow and her imaginary friend “Bo”, who was a little pretend girl, that liked to bake pies, too. The further away, the years became to her childhood, the more Jenny became my saving grace, as she was so very helpful in the care of her youngest brothers. It does not surprise me one bit, that she turned out to be a truly wonderful mother.
Lyla and I made brownies for Jennys’ birthday. We wore birthday hats as Lyla was sure that we were supposed to, given the occasion. Of course Jenny wanted a healthy version. Lyla cried when we added avocados . The brownies turned out especially moist and no one could have guessed they were at least a little healthier than the average brownie.
For dinner, Will took Jenny to a fancy restaurant in Virginia, which is just about thirty minutes, from Elizabeth City. Lyla and I took a walk by the “laughing river”, as the weather was so mild. Snow lined the village streets like strands of lace. The river was as smooth as glass and the sky above it was cloudless. The thought crossed my mind again that it really was a beautiful day for a birthday.
Bright, White Snow & Tea Cakes Too
Thursday, Another Day of Snow!
It started snowing in the late evening, yesterday. Today, when light came to the rabbit patch, the territory looked like a post card from a place like “New England” or my friend “Fayes’ Iowa”. What an unfamiliar winter !
This time, the temperature makes sense and there is no fierce wind blowing either. Still, I do not have snow boots- or gloves, that would be of any use, in snow. . .so I must be content to enjoy from a far, the wondrous beauty of snow. As I watch the sun come up, through the window by the “morning table”, shining brightly, it does not seem “second fiddle” at all, to do so.
Kyle and Christian are both home this time and I am so glad of that. “Misery may love company”, but so does happiness. I am making pancakes , on a weekday morning-to celebrate! Kyle will not start his day with an egg sandwich -and no oatmeal for me this day! It feels like “a red letter day” and so I will act accordingly.
After the breakfast, I went to thinking of tasks, I may have had to put off, in the absence of snow. I remembered I had meant to make labels for some glass canisters, I had bought months ago. I had previously stored all of my spices in “mason jars” (since I buy in buy in bulk ) and made labels, adorned with sweet rabbit images, for each one. The effect is charming. The large glass canisters, which held flours and sugar sat there void of any embellishment for a long while. I set about the pleasant chore of labeling them and hopefully eliminated the chances of cakes that won’t rise or “hard cookies”.
That was as about eventful as my day got. . . and that was fine by me. I did get packed to go to Elizabeth City tomorrow-of course this depends on the conditions of the highway. Jenny has a birthday on Saturday and I am so hoping to spend it with her. If we ever got snow, it was always on her birthday or close to it. I used to call her “snowbird” because of that, so many years ago.
I started Christmas shopping today. It is quite a new experience, for me, to shop on line, but so easy and I was quite pleased with the prices. I bought three small gifts only, still it is a start. I hope to never abandon browsing in small shops that sell french milled soaps or fine coffee shops, for that would be a shame. There is something so charming about such places and our lives needs some charm, I think.
I made a big pot of soup in the afternoon with intentions to feed Jennys’ family and Miss Thelma too. There is also a batch of “tea cakes” in the oven, now and I am hoping, I will be able to brag a little about them, though the odds may not be so favorable.
The contents of a day, can be of great variation. Sometimes, days are memorable and seem to have a permanent residence in our heart . . most are not so remarkable and pass without much ado. I like them all. There are a lot of ways to spend a day-and for me, I am content to have a day when snow lies in heaps around the territory and the kitchen smells like tea cakes.
Dear Diary, I am glad for winter with its’ bright, white snow. I am glad for hours, not spent in haste . . .and birthdays. I am glad for watching the light change on the rabbit patch . . .and the chances a day brings to love this world, all over again.
The Brave Little Daffodil-a mostly true poem
Very far away from me,
across the wild and open sea,
A brave little daffodil blooms,- I know,
because a fairy told me so.
He asked the rose to come along-
and the coral bells to sing their song-
But only the brave little daffodil.
had the courage and the will.
And so one cold and dreary day,
when springtime seemed so far away,
The fairy spied his gift of gold-
blooming, in the world so cold-
and so she did , what we all should-
she shared, when she found something good.
A Sunday in January
All day long, there has been sunshine on the rabbit patch. Sunshine that was bright enough to cast shadows. I have always loved the play of light and shade. You can best believe by now, that I know how light falls on this territory. The first year here, now more than a decade ago, I did not plant a thing, until I got familiar with the shade and the soil. It is safe to say, that I know where to look for wild violets.
Even though the day was bright, the air was cold enough to warrant a coat. I was too comfortable to take such measures. I spent the morning repairing a framed picture and turning an old piece of furniture into “an ironing station”. It is a heavy contraption and so when I decided to remove it from a bedroom, I stopped three times on the way to the backdoor. The laundry room was the last stop. That is when I got the idea to transform it from a book shelf that held a lamp, to a place to iron clothes. I decided it would be something to”play” with, on a day in winter with a cold wind blowing.
Since, I am on a quest to live with minimal possessions, I have come to a screeching halt on thrift stores purchases. It was great fun while it lasted, and in retirement , I hope to paint furniture again . . . maybe to sell at my lemonade stand, next to my “free library”. I did not do any elaborate painting this day. I may add roses or polka dots . I may add a rabbit. . . but today I just cleaned it up, as I might just keep it- and it is just s likely that I might not. Truthfully there is only a minimal amount of ironing needed at the rabbit patch, though I dearly love cotton, in summer.
I spent the best part of the afternoon daydreaming-and the other part, remembering. January is a good time to do such things. This day, I remembered my Sunday School teachers. They had names like, Miss Jo, Miss Catherine and Miss Tillie. . . my mamas’ best friend, Miss Linda. I loved them all and recalled more than a few fond memories. We listened to gently told stories and then colored a picture. We attended a small church, just a few miles from the house. We always rode to church with Pop and Grandmama. We always sat in the same pew. (There was no childrens’ church in those days). We sat behind Mr. Marvin S. and his wife, Miss Lillian. I thought Miss Lillian was especially sweet, but in months like January, she wore a mink collar, complete with the head of the mink. The cape was clutched at a fastening in his mouth. I was scared to death of that thing-and so on those Sundays, I did not dare squirm or cough. The church service took every bit as long as the visits to Mama Hodges house. I remember feeling bad when my mind took to wandering during lengthy prayer. There was one elder, in particular that prayed the longest prayers and try as I might, I could not stay focused on my salvation or the providence of God. It was no wonder to me that Grandmama started cooking a big Sunday dinner, and had to miss Church to do so. If someone got baptized, I was sure I would perish right there, in that pew. Some long hymn was chosen and we sang every verse -and prayed some more til the newly declared Christian and the preacher changed in to long white robes. To make matters worse,Sunday clothes were itchy and patent leathers were binding. This greatly restricted movement and it was almost sinful to scuff your patent leathers.
Still, these memories were of great comfort to me on this Sunday. The “memory verses” come to me even now, in times of need. The hymns like “Sweet Hour of Prayer” , “In the Garden” and my favorite “The Church in the Wild Wood” (which inspired my “early services”) hold a special place in my heart, even now, decades later.
The grand finale of my day was spent reading. I read “Stillmeadow Sampler” by Gladys Taber and then a cook book by Jane W. Hopping. Hopping was known as “The Pioneer Lady”-long before the “Pioneer Woman”, (who has a wonderful line of dishes). Miss Claudia gave me the cookbook, which is far more than recipes. There is poetry , songs and accounts of life as it was in 1930-1940 era.
Jenny sent me a picture of Lyla,clinging to a soft bunny, that she has become quite attached to since hearing “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. If the rabbit is not in her arms, she hides him, just in case “Mr. McGregor” is lurking about.
When the world became dark and colder, I could not help but take store, of this Sunday in January. I had remembered Sundays past and hoped for Sundays, future. . .and I had saved a little cabinet. I had read wise words spoken a long while back and I searched for words not yet written . . and at last account . . Peter Rabbit was safe. What a delightful way to spend a Sunday.
To Love the Winter, Too
There has been no need to build a fire as of lately, at the ” rabbit patch”. Instead, the window, by the morning table, is raised. Rain falls steadily and sounds like a lullaby, sung by nature. There was still snow this morning. It was lying in ditches and by the edge of the woods. The rain washed it all away today and so the landscape became the familiar monochromatic shades of winter, again.
The “early service” was especially beautiful today. When light came to herald a new day . . .well it made quite a spectacal of itself. The sky was almost lavender and the sun cast rays the color of clementines. . . then, a mockingbird sang , some blackbirds cheered -and the day was born.
A southerly wind breathed the sweet country air in the old farmhouse through the still open window. If I am afforded the conditions to put a window up, I will. It may be a different story, when I one day, live in a cottage on small town street, but as long as I dwell in the country, I will smell the pines in January, drifting through the old house, every chance I get-and I will be glad for it. . .and more importantly, content.
There are a few tasks at the rabbit patch I want to complete, but with it being a three day week end, there is no sense of rush, which delights me. I am thinking to make tea cakes again, for practice-and because we all like them.
My great grandmother, ” Mama Hodges” was known for pound cakes and tea cakes. Her kitchen always smelled of those concoctions, and rightly so, as most often, there was a pound cake,on her refrigerator ( called a Kelvinator, in those days). She had a metal cake pan, out of a childs’ reach, for also in those days, a child would NEVER risk the aftermath of putting her shoes on anyones’ furniture-or a kitchen chair.
“Mama Hodges” seemed old in my earliest memories of her. She had been widowed as a young mother of four and wore black for over forty years, after “Papa” died, until her own death. She usually wore a white apron, too. Every week, on one morning, Mama and Grandmama, took my sister, Delores and I to visit “Mama Hodges”. Delores and I were expected to sit quietly with the women-and we did. It was always hot enough “to cure tobacco” in that living room. The hours were as slow as the the elders prayers, on Sunday. Ever so often, the women went to the kitchen and Mama Hodges would offer Delores and I, a piece of her pound cake. She would cut a slice and promptly banish us to the back porch, so as not to get crumbs on her floor. What a happy turn of events that was for us. It was like “having your cake, and eating it too”.
There was a “spinster” named “Miss Delphie that lived just down the road, and we often saw her., there at “Mama Hodges'”, house. Miss Delphie was a small, quiet woman. She crocheted little hats and blankets for new babies. She could also gather flowers off of a ditch bank and make very impressive arrangements-fit for the Church,on Sunday. The women talked in quiet voices and had the most proper conversations. The television was never on and as a child, I imagined all sorts of stories, while the ladies talked about crocheting. When my great Aunt Agnes came over, things livened up. Aunt Agnes wore dangling earrings and perfume. I was always so happy, if my cousin “Faith” was with her. Things happened when Faith came. Once, Faith talked back to Miss Delphie. Miss Delphie got on Faith, about not being “lady like” about something-and Faith said ” well, when I grow up, at least I am going to have a husband!” You could have heard a pin drop. We were all shocked and I was sure Faith would be arrested! I was quite relieved to see her in Sunday School, the following Sunday-alive and well and still apt to be sassy. I do not make a pound cake or tea cakes, that I do not remember those long and mostly uneventful, mornings at Mama Hodges, many years ago.
I had to close the window, by early afternoon. Clouds covered the sky over the rabbit patch and the air had quite a chill. It is hard to believe, but there is another chance of snow on Wednesday. There has been no mention of sub freezing temperatures, and in all probability, this will be just a “dusting” and harmless.
Winter is not beloved to many. Christmas lights do not twinkle as they did a short while ago. The landscape lies barren in hues of brown and gray. Light is scarce and often muted. Still, we ought not to lose heart . Winter does not make the many demands , like the warmer seasons do. Gardeners can spend the winter dreaming, for they know that miracles await, just beneath the soil. Winter is a time to rest and to consider . . .to gather our wishes and to build fires. Don’t forget to love the winter, too.
Snow on the Rabbit Patch-the Conclusion
I was up this morning, when the territory was dark and silent. I especially wanted to see the sunrise on the snow, again. At long last, the temperatures are returning to a normal range, and the bulk of the snow, is expected to melt today. I wanted to watch the grand finale of a lovely duet . . .snow and light. It was a soft, but spectacular moment when at last the sun rose over the wooded horizon. It seemed a holy communion of fire and ice, and I did not take it lightly.
Late yesterday, water began to run in the old farmhouse. At least two pipes will need replacing, at last count. Still, how wonderful to have water again. I can wash clothes and dishes, and by tomorrow, the roads should be safe for everything to re- open. Thankfully, I have not suffered the “cabin fever” that many do. This may confirm my suspicion, that I am a “home body”. I have been perfectly content to read and write. Cash and Christopher were good company, though I was glad to see Kyle come in last night, and Christian this morning. Tonight, I hope to cook a special supper commemorating their “homecoming”. . . and water.
In the early afternoon hours, the snow began melting and large patches of the earth appeared here and there. The air felt so warm and the sunshine was so bright, that it reminded me of April. I made a last bowl of snow cream, just because I could and may not be able to again for a long while. I made it in my winter china bowl and felt quite fancy.
I have spent a good deal of the last four days, under a soft blanket in very comfortable “house clothes”-today I began to “mend my ways” and set out to restore order in the farmhouse. There is a fair amount of laundry and the floors are tracked with all sorts of tiny puddles and trash from bringing in a half cord of wood, during the storm. I placed the geraniums back in the laundry room. They have been complaining of the frigid air, like everybody else.
By, the time Kyle came in the back door, a one dish supper, was ready. Washing dishes, in a sink that leaks, is not for the faint of heart. It is a calculated affair which involves bins of clean and soapy water, that must be emptied . . . and a bucket under the sink, just in case.
Wednesday, some time in January
I just thought, it was going to snow. The amount forecasted made me think, we would be out of school a day or so. I was not prepared for the record breaking lows that would last for days, bursting pipes and leaving some segments of the population, without power. Last night, school was cancelled again. At some point, I lost track of the date, the days of the week and the presence of clocks. One day varies little from the day before and the one to follow. If this is what retirement is like, then I am willing! I have read til my heart is content. I have gotten answers to many nagging questions on all sorts of topics , that range from salt lamps to Swiss education practices. I have talked to Mama several times every day-and talked to some of my dear old friends, for as long as I pleased. . .beautiful opportunities, as rare as the snow.
Tomorrow, we go back to our familiar routines, for the snow is melting, and that changes everything. Children will tell stories about forts and sledding. They will all have had snow cream. We all have new stories. I will remember being as cold as I have ever been. I will remember baking cookies , like “Mama Hodges” made. I will not forget the dream that warned me to check the pump house. I will remember the way of light on snow. . .and how Mama does not like snow, at all- even in moonlight.
Cheese Biscuits from the Rabbit Patch Kitchen-a Recipe
Some people call them cheese “straws”, sometimes they are called cheese “biscuits” If you pipe them, they are straws, if you make them into little cookies, then they are biscuits. Whatever you call them, they are are a simple concoction and taste delightful.
Years ago, these biscuits were served at every bridal and baby shower, including my own. What sweet memories I have of small gatherings in church fellowship halls or in the dining rooms of neighbors, celebrating a new baby or the union of young fresh faced couples.
Neighborhood ladies made bowls of chicken salad and pimento cheese, to be served in little sandwiches. Someone made tiny cake squares. There were always nuts-usually peanuts or pecans, homemade mints, that were so creamy, in pastel colors and a bowl of punch. Often the same lady came to be known for a certain dish and provided that-but the legend in the Old Ford community, that I grew up in was Shirley Cherry. Miss Shirley could do it all and eventually catered the affairs altogether. She also branched out into weddings.
Keep in mind, that these occasions were a far cry more simple, than the current trends, when I was young. They were very personal gatherings with little variation from one another. Somehow, as grand as these events have become, I think something beautiful has been lost.
Pleas note, that this recipe for cheese biscuits should not be confused with the large fluffy biscuits, southeners are apt to eat for breakfast or with fried chicken for supper. This recipe yields small “cookie like” wafers.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rice krispies cereal (any rice cereal can be used)
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
a dash or so of crushed red pepper
Combine all ingredients, by hand and form into balls, to be flattened, with a moist fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-14 minutes.
Now, Miss Shirley did not put the rice cereal in hers, and they were good anyway. . .also they are always better when shared with a loved one . . .or when it snows.
When the Fields are Covered in Snow
Lylas’ snowman has been around so long, he should have had a name. It was -6 degrees F this morning at the early service. I was gathering wood and it seemed like the air would shatter, if I spoke a word. I was in a silent territory-in that place between night and morning. Thankfully, I had a full bed of embers to work with and so it did not take long, before a cheerful fire was burning in the wood heater.
I went straight a way to building a second fire in the den-and made coffee. I was glad, that the water in the bathroom was still running. I had worried I would be melting snow, for coffee. The weatherman confirmed another record for the low temps, but also gave a hopeful forecast for tomorrow. We are expected to reach 50 degrees by tomorrow afternoon.
In light of this, I have done a great deal of self reflection, today. I thought about my quest for living simply and carefully. Retirement, Lord willing, is still a few years away-and I will need to continue to work for as long as I am able. But, I thought at first, I should start practicing a more frugal lifestyle, now. My first function, was to truly define what really mattered to me. I decluttered down to bare essentials, which I defined as things I used or really loved. It took several weeks in July to accomplish this. I have not regretted this course of action and realised I actually felt relief, when it was all said and done. I have never been wasteful, by nature, but then , a winter storm comes along, and I have four days to consider my habits. There is room for improvement. I do know, that I want to continue doing what I am, because it feels right. I would rather spend an afternoon, teaching Lyla the names of flowers than working for a new pair of shoes. I want to feed the planet, to contribute-and not live selfishly. Jenny always says “that money should not be our driving force” and I am in agreement. Having said that, I must still pay my bills. What a fine line to walk!- and besides that, very few things have ever worked out as I thought they would, anyway. This is another fine line . . .Some people would deem it irresponsible not to plan, after all. So four days was not enough time to come to any grand conclusions. I decided to make cheese straws.
I do not know how these delightful little biscuits ever went “out of style”. They used to be served at every bridal and baby shower. They were always home made, as were the little sandwiches and even the mints. The fare was always the same for such occasions. I think when Lyla is a bit older, I will have a tea party for her with a table laden with such things and tiny cake squares too. Jennys’ neighbor, Miss Thelma reminded me of the little biscuits, on one of her recollections about her best friend of fifty years, Edith. She and Miss Thelma ate cheese straws and drank tea,on the Christmas break, every year. You can believe I made some for her this year, in memory of Miss Edith. Today was a good day to make them again I thought-and thank Goodness, it did not require the “wisdom of Solomon”, to do so.
The afternoon warmed to thirty degrees and that seemed much more reasonable. I am familiar with thirty degrees. School is closed again tomorrow, due to the roads, which are still not cleared. I am quite excited about the prospect of water in the kitchen and the laundry room.
There were a few times, I was weary from the cold and fretted about living in such a big , old house, these past few days. Mama called several times a day and would listen, as only a mother will. At some point, I rallied and reminded myself, that, all was not lost, just because of a winter storm. It really was just another “hole in the floor”, of sorts. How could I allow a bit of inconvenience to tarnish my blessed life?
I will watch the sunset tonight, and do my best to remember the way the light falls in colorful splashes, on an evening in winter-when the fields are covered in snow. . .and I will be glad, to see such glory.