Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday, February 18th, 2011

A cold wind, - some blue sky to the north with clouds heaped up like dumplings, but the wind is miserable, - it whines as it scurries down the street in town, and I hurry with my shopping and errands.  I was bewitched by the  cornflower blue of the clear sky and came out without a scarf.  Before I was finished in town a large black cloud had appeared and the wind was wild and blowing granular bits of snow in erratic patterns.

We came home to a warm lunch and poignant thoughts of a mild day yesterday that had sent me out into the garden, filling bird feeders and moving straw back and forth, peering to see how the foxgloves had survived the winter and if the hellebores were going to make it for Lent.  Ah well, I see these alternating winter/spring days are prevalent in blogland, even in those parts where the snowdrops are blooming.

I have to be content with looking at pictures of the garden in bygone days.

Apricots in the Lost Garden

The promise of all this lovely jungley growth where today 
there are only dried, bleak remnants of last year's
fall splendour.

That pretty annual vine that I bought at a Garden Club sale and that grew 
and bloomed so beautifully,  Although I buy the seeds each year and the plants grow I
have never had a bloom on it like this again.  But
that won't deter me from trying again this year.

Remember how the black-eyes Susan carpeted the hills in early spring

and the bloom on the apple trees wafted their fragrance  along the lane
where Caspar and I went walking

the sweetness of the Violets

the tender new growth along the banks of the creek

and the lush beauty of the white peony!!!!

I could show you the Iris and the Poppy and the Roses and the passengers
alighting from the Chinese Lantern Underground Railway,
but it is bedtime, so I will tuck in with my dreams
and try to be patient.......

Life is eternal and love is immortal;
And death is only a horizon,
And a horizon is
nothing save the limit of our sight. - Rossiter W. Raymond

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ABC Wednesday

The letter this week is E

E is for Eccles cakes

This is what Wikipedia will tell you about this elegant but homey pastry.....

"Eccles cakes are named after the English town of Eccles.

It is not known who invented the recipe, but James Birch is credited with being the first person to sell Eccles Cakes on a commercial basis, which he sold from his shop at the corner of Vicarage Road and St. Mary's Road, (now known as Church Street) in the town centre, in 1793

Nicknames for Eccles Cakes included Squashed Fly Cake, Fly Cake, Fly Pie or even a Fly's Graveyard, owing to the appearance of the currants that it contains.

But I can tell you of my own personal history with Eccles Cakes.  I can't remember my mother making them on a regular basis, but our Vicar's wife rolled out the slender pastry every morning, cut it in rounds and filled them with melted butter, currants and brown sugar, a bit of vinegar, a smidgen of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg)  - gathered the pastry together in a twist at the top, turned it over and rolled it out flat, sprinkled the cakes with sugar and put them in the oven to bake.  (Nowadays people use puff pastry......)

This was during the Great Depression (compared to which the recent one we had was just a little Dint) and the Vicar and his wife were compassionate people, not only preaching the word of the Lord but caring for the congregation as a shepherd would care for his sheep.  Each afternoon the Vicar's wife would visit in the Parish, carrying with her the offerings of her kitchen - the Eccles Cakes that she could whip up in a flash, so familiar were they to her fingers and her heart.

A little variation on the traditional Eccles Cake recipe involves using sweet pastry to make tartlet cases and filling them with Ecclefechan, which consists of...

1 egg
4 tbsps of melted butter
i cup mixed dried fruit
3 tbsps brown sugar
2 tsps wine vinegar
2 tbsps chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix the sugar, melted butter and eggs together.  Stir in vinegar, dried fruit and nuts.
Pour into unbaked pastry shells.  Bake for 30 mins at 375 F

For more variations on the Letter E go here, to ABC Wednesday  with many thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt
and her kind crew.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14th, 2011

This and that.....

Weather report, - this morning the snow lay in lachrymose mounds and strips through the garden, effectively hiding any thrusting shoots which might be trying to check the skies and the whereabouts of Spring.  It was still dark when I arose, and I opened doors and windows to let the fresh morning air into the house.

The temperature was six or seven degrees above zero, and as dawn rimmed the snowy hills a slight breeze came up, gradually accelerating, tumbling, turning somersaults, lifting three or four crows in a lilting ballet above the pasture.  A pseudo Chinook, come to bare the grass and melt the icy patches, it has continued tossing and turned during the day so that now only the snow caught in the dried grasses along the fence line remains in the valley.  Of course the hills are still white, mottled with the green of the pines and firs and the dusky paths of the cracks and crevices, marking the creeks and remnants of past rainstorms that cleared the hills of soil in racing rivulets.

Half an hour ago it started to rain, - not the cold rain of winter, but the soft and tender rain of Spring!!!

It is getting close to Happy Hour.  Twenty-four hours ago we had had tea, and our son and daughter-in-law were just gathering up their things, preparing for the trip home to Summerland.  We lingered at the door, saying goodbyes, and as always, admonishing careful driving and a safe arrival.  Someone remarked that 'it was the other fellow you have to watch out for...........

An hour later we had a phone call from our daughter-in-law to say they had been in an accident. A young fellow  had pulled out of a side road along the Channel Parkway in his monster truck, right into their lane - a great screeching of brakes, the air bags deployed  - there was nowhere for them to go and our daughter-in-law's poor Audi, which is so much a part of her working day and which she cherished, is now wracked and ruined, - beyond repair. Luckily, our dear ones escaped with minor bruises and swellings (so far),

 and the occupant of the monster truck came through unscathed, sitting high above all the carnage.

It causes me to think of Time and Chance - if we had only lingered two or three minutes longer at the door, - if our goodbyes had been lengthened by an extra hug or two, - if they had traveled just a little slower, or just a little faster, this encounter would never have happened and the young, inattentive fellow with his monster truck would have been safely out of the way.  How many of life's pleasures and pains happen by Chance, I wonder.  Ecclesiastics tells us that 'time and chance happeneth to all' and I guess it just leaves us pondering, "if only...."

A River Stone

The Pussy Willows,
peeking over the top of their tight, shiny packaging
peering around for signs of Spring