Tag Archives: seasons

Pine boughs whispering

So, this happened.

Snow on April 14

At breakfast, I could see the dirt with tiny spears of green grass that is our lawn. About 11ish, it started snowing. Snowing! On April 14. Not unheard of but also not welcome. And then it didn’t stop for hours.

Pretty soon, the snowplow went by.

My Beloved drained the snowblower of gasoline a couple of weeks ago, so even if the streets were clear, our sidewalks weren’t going to be. I just watched the white stuff come down, my jaw on my chest, unbelieving.

pine tree

So then I wondered what it was like this time of year last year. I figured this snow must be a fluke.

2018 april 14

This picture was taken exactly a year ago. That’s our camper in the back yard of our rental house. For some reason, we backed the pickup up to the front door. Maybe we were loading luggage, trying to get away.

My point is that snow in mid-April in southern Wisconsin is not all that unusual, so I better believe it.

Fortunately, the forecast calls for highs in the 60s midweek, so this terrible reminder that winter is not a three-month season but a five-month one will disappear in the spring sunshine and be forgotten soon enough.

So there’s that.

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For when you need four gallons of soup

Four gallons of soup.

Four gallons.

Gallons.

How many cups are in a gallon again? Sixteen?

That’s 64 cups of soup.

Uff-da.

I agreed to make four gallons of soup for one of the Lenten Lunches hosted by the church in town I now attend (no, not the church I live in, the one with actual congregants and services).

Last year, when we were working on the church, my Beloved and I frequented the springtime Wednesday noon meals because the food was good (homemade, and the meal always offered cookies for dessert), the location was convenient (one block from our worksite) and the clean-up was easy (none).

And we discovered how nice it was to interact in the community and meet people who knew of our project and expressed interest in our endeavors. We had liked our new tradition.

This year, I figured I needed to contribute more than a freewill offering, so I volunteered to make the soup last week.

I immediately fretted about how to transport four gallons of liquid from my kitchen to the church. Even a distance of one block set up the potential for splashy disaster.

I inquired as to how others passed this hurdle, and the pastor suggested I make the soup at the church–their church. Great idea! I packed up my groceries, and I found the enormous kitchen there outfitted with just about every kitchen gadget known to woman to be the perfect place to make four gallons of soup.

Four gallons is a lot of Carrot Ginger Soup to make from scratch.

As I was unpacking 10 pounds of carrots, another woman in the basement making sandwiches for the luncheon asked, “Are you going to peel all those carrots?”

It wasn’t until that very moment I thought to myself, “That’s a lot of carrots to peel.”

I volunteered my flavor of soup to make so having to peel 10 pounds of carrots was all on me.

Fortunately, my stepdaughter gifted me with a new peeler for Christmas, and I had brought it with me.

Peeling the carrots wasn’t the hardest part of making four gallons of soup. Heating four gallons of carrots and broth was the hardest part. After waiting a good half an hour to bring my delicious ingredients to a boil, I wised up and separated the contents of my cauldron into two pots, and then things went quickly. I used my immersion blender (one of the gadgets missing from the church’s cupboards), and the finished result was smooth and tasty (even folks skeptical of a soup with “ginger” in the name said nice things about it).

If ever you need a recipe for four gallons of Carrot Ginger Soup, here’s mine.

Carrot Ginger Soup

P.S. I only used two sticks of butter. And I used turmeric instead of “curry powder.” By ginger, I mean fresh, minced ginger, not a cup of ginger spice, oh, no!

Enjoy!

Spring, nothing beats it

spring tulips

If ever there was a symbol of spring, it’s tulips.

Welcome, First Day of Spring. We’ve been longing for you.

Depending on how you slice it, today is the first day of spring. The vernal equinox occurred at 4:58 p.m. yesterday, so yesterday might qualify but only as the first evening of spring. Today, oh, we have a full day!

Spring is my favorite season.

I love how it sounds and smells and feels.

Birds are chirping, and frogs are gallooping.

The air smells fresh and watery. My nose hairs aren’t crispy cold, and I no longer have to smell exhaust fumes while my car warms up.

Spring feels spongy like a melting bog — the earth is forgiving again.

And spring is colorful! The sky is blue, not gray! Well, today is gray, but even the clouds are not so imposing–I see sunlight burning through. The ground is green, not white! There are birds with orange breasts (!), and golden sunrises begin each day.

The snow here in Southern Wisconsin isn’t quite gone, but the melting ice drifts are few and far between. I’m not quite ready for sandals, but I put away my down coat and mittens. Even more bold, screaming children in T-shirts are tearing around the playground across the street.

Welcome, Spring. How I have missed thee.

The tide will come in and out

I woke up this morning to an order from my husband as he set his phone on the nightstand. “I’m going out to blow snow. Answer my phone if it rings.”

He disappeared into the ether of the morning while I lay in bed trying to breathe. I am in the midst of a good winter cold, good meaning one that fills one’s head with snot. When the decongestant of the night before wears off, waking up is just a reminder that one is not “up to snuff,” as they say Minnesota’s high country.

To summarize: It is the middle of February. My Beloved pressed his snow blower into service yet again this season. And I have the sort of blasted upper respiratory infection that keeps Kleenex factories in business. It’s the sort of day that requires one to remember. To remember that no winter lasts forever.

So I dug through some photos of a trip long past (well, two years ago, not that long past), and I found this lovely shot of some healthy thistles on the California coastline.

Tides come and go

And even though a sigh today is one filled with jagged boogers, I’m sighing in relief.

 

Cold enough, eh?

Well. wouldn’tcha know it, the third week of January came a week late this year. The same sloppy Polar Vortex that can’t keep its boundaries straight can’t read a calendar either.

I haven’t written a blog in nearly a week because I have no inspiration. And if I had inspiration, my motivation has slipped through the door to (and fallen on the ice, no doubt). It’s tough to work up a head of steam when it’s so cold, the hairs in your nose freeze.

frost

That’s sunshine behind them thar frost covered windows.

It was 24 degrees below zero this morning in southern Wisconsin, if my Beloved’s Weather Underground app can be believed. Every square inch of the windows in our unheated entryway was covered in frost. Jack Frost comes out to play when Old Man Winter gets unseemly.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go outside. I worked upstairs in my home office with the space heater on and a hot cup of tea. But many of my Midwestern friends posted pictures or videos of their car temperatures, the wide-open roads bereft of rush hour traffic and even shows of boiling water vaporizing in the frigid air.

This is crazy cold, the stuff of legend. “You remember that January in ’19 when it got down to 30 below zero? My car wouldn’t start even when I had it plugged in! My eyelids froze shut! I didn’t warm up until Valentine’s Day!”

[Did that reference to plugging in your car go over your head, my sweet Southern friend? Up here in God’s country, we have devices known as block heaters that, when powered with an extension cord, keep the oil in a car’s oil pan liquified (or at least viscous enough to flow through the engine). Yup, that’s Scandihoovian ingenuity at work, you betcha.]

We Midwesterners endure run-of-the-mill cold every year. Like, the high temperature hasn’t risen into double digits for a week, and when it finally does, a foot of snow drops out of the sky. That kind of thing happens every year. But temperatures fifty or sixty degrees below freezing? Well, that’s once-in-a-generation type of cold. That’s the stuff a good Minnesotan takes pride in. “Twenty below? That’s nothing! I go ice fishing when it gets 20 degrees below zero–just makes the beer taste better! Now forty below, that’s something to see. Or feel, rather. Only the toughest endure that kind of cold.”

Fortunately, February is quite literally right around the corner and she’s bringing balmier weather with her and the distraction of the Superbowl being played in Atlanta. We Midwesterners don’t care much about a couple of teams from the coasts trying the best one another in a Southern city, but heck, we like any reason to make a hot dip or place a friendly bet. We’re just glad the cold gave us our chance to exercise our bragging rights.

Travel Tuesday: Beach chronicle

When you can’t enjoy baseball, go to the beach.

My Beloved and I escaped the dark and cold days of pre-Christmas in the northern hinterlands by making a getaway to Fort Myers Beach.

While lolling around with an unobstructed view of endless sand and sea, we counted how many times we had been to Florida over the years. There was the year of the teepee condo. The time we drove the ol’ 1983 Pace Arrow around the Gulf. Three times in the past decade, he won a trip to Florida for selling lots of insurance. The time we mingled with, shall we say, an interesting crowd in South Miami Beach before a cruise. Spent a winter in the Keys and the 10,000 Islands areas in another RV. Other visits, too. We’ve visited so often they tend to run together now.

Florida is a go-to destination for Disney World and Minnesota Twins spring training baseball, mostly, but also we conduct a little business there. If it’s March, we end up in Fort Myers to root for home runs and consume hot dogs, but last week, it was December and there was no baseball to be found. So for the first time in all the years we’ve visited Florida, we stayed in Fort Myers Beach.

In March, Fort Myers Beach is clogged with sun worshipers and spring break revelers. With one primary road running through the island, there is little escape from the traffic and lack of parking. It’s a hot destination—hot as in hoppin’ and hot as in, well, hot—but it’s not relaxing.

In December, Fort Myers Beach is a different place. Sunny but not hot. Not crowded either. Laid back. Kind of a nice break from house reconstruction and, um, snow.

endless sand

Endless sand.

shell booty

Some of my shell booty.

My Beloved found us a VRBO (vacation rental by owner) on the south end of Fort Myers Beach. The beach is extra wide there, and every morning the tide washes in a new crop of sea shells. Across big Carlos Pass, we could see Lovers Key from our deck.

I’ve lamented in the past about the lack of interesting dining options in Fort Myers (Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, where I enjoyed what was quite possibly the best tropical salad with shrimp in my life, is an exception and it turns out it is technically on Fort Myers Beach, not in Fort Myers), but being on the south end of Fort Meyers Beach, we were actually closer to Bonita Springs, where we found crab Eggs Benedict at The Garden Cafe where, soft-shell Pad Thai at Komoon Thai Sushi Ceviche, and loaded Bloody Marys and grouper bites at Coconut Jacks Waterfront Grille. A Midwesterner can appreciate some of the country’s finest sea food, as it should be on the coast.

sunset

Among the most memorable events in Florida are the beginnings and ends of days. On the east coast, it is the sunrises. On the west coast, it’s the sunsets. (In the Keys, you can get both.) On Fort Myers Beach last week, we watched the sun disappear over the horizon with a cocktail in hand most days. One can’t hurry a sunset. Or make it wait. It’s a daily reminder of time passing and you best savor it when you can.

Stop and gaze upon the roses

 

horizontal red roses

Stop and smell the lilacs, that’s a maxim I could get behind. The scent of lilacs blooming in May is both fleeting and intoxicating.

Roses, I have found, are not very fragrant, making the phrase “stop and smell the roses” not only cliché but also misleading. But still, roses in bloom have a way of stopping one in one’s tracks, they are so handsome.

Napa cookie cutter campgroundI captured the image above a couple of weeks ago when we were staying at the Napa Valley Expo, a neat and proper sort of RV park where every lot is exactly the same size, lined up on a perfectly asphalted street. The effect is rather hypnotic, particularly when one walks her dog along the same route every time, four times a day.

Then I wake up in the morning, answering puppy’s call to nature, and notice the dew on the roses.

dewy-red-rose.jpg

It’s all I can do not to break out in my Stevie Wonder voice, “Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she Won. Der. Ful? Isn’t she precious?”

A fanciful row of rose bushes line the main thoroughfare in the park, and I get to gaze upon them whenever I walk the dog or do the laundry. These dewy images were taken a couple of weeks ago, when most of the blooms were only buds, just waking up to spring’s welcome. Unfortunately for us visitors, it rained most of a week, but April’s showers left such perfect droplets on the roses, one might think an artist was painting circular little globs of clear lacquer on every upward surface.

red bud

We answered Wanderlust‘s call to fly home for some business (and pleasure), and then returned “home,” to our little RV in Napa Valley. The rain is gone, and the roses, still standing guard on the thoroughfare, are almost spent. We’ll be moving on soon enough, but today we’re here, and the roses demand attention.

rose bush

This morning’s wide open blossoms.