You really are here!
Thank you for saying hello! It was wonderful to hear from so many of you last week. It is the very thing that makes a person who chooses to share their writing feel like people are indeed out there on the receiving end, that maybe they do find value in reading the words you scratch out. You are a gift to me.
When I sat down to publish my last post, I did not have the final paragraph written, or even in mind. But I needed something to wrap up my thoughts on the naming of this new blog, and for some reason I did so with a totally unrelated rhetorical pondering on the nature of blog reading, then versus now. I wasn’t so much thinking of engagement via commenting as I was sheer visits/reads (those are the numbers I see here and on Instagram). But you all gave a hearty wave and hello, and for that I am incredibly grateful. It is true that comments make a blogger feel like what they offer touches people in a positive way. I’ve read before that it is a form of currency, reciprocation for writing offered, but that’s never been how I feel. You don’t owe me anything! Recently I heard a blogger say “comments give me steam to keep going, and often inspire future posts.” Steam. That made sense to me. I feel that way, too.
We enjoyed a relaxing stretch of days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. Both Adam and Emily were home for many days in a row, which is something this family does not see much of. The last couple of years my greatest gratitude at the Thanksgiving table has simply been that we’re all together. A small acknowledgment that carries a weight only a mother could know. I understand that Emily may not always be able to make it home for the holidays, even if she would like to. Adult life is coming for her swiftly, and with that, I am aware that life and work can enforce geographic limitations, whether we like it or not. It is one of my greatest sadnesses of the modern world, the disbandment of family and clan. Prior to this past year, I’ve lived my entire life within a fifteen minute radius of my childhood home (save for a six month stint in Vermont as a newlywed), and while I always longed to leave Connecticut, I only pulled the trigger once every last member of our immediate families had left.
There have been more hours spent in the woods hunting this year than any other I can recall, and rifle season has ended with no venison in the freezer. I don’t remember the last time that’s happened. Adam would tell the story of his one missed perfect opportunity if he were writing here, but I won’t do his tale justice. An excellent, careful storyteller, Adam is not one of those bragging hunters who thinks they have it all figured out. He is humble, perhaps to a fault, and is the first to point out his own “shortcomings.” Since losing his best hunting partner and guide, Adam would say his level of impatience has been revealed. He is no longer copiloting with the most zen and patient hunter out there. Dad was skilled at placing stands, could spot a buck rub from an unreasonable distance, was an excellent shot, and above all, had the ability to sit up in a tree, in still-silence, for hours and hours. Adam? Well, he is incredibly proficient with his rifle, and excels at calling in those young bucks who’d chance just about anything for a date with a doe, but patient? The man who listens to podcasts at 1.5x the speed so the speaker will get to the point faster? Let’s just say my father’s presence kept my husband grounded, and I think Adam didn’t realize quite how much until these last two years. He is not one who needs to repeat lessons in life in order for them to be learned, so it is fair to say his next opportunity will not pass him by.
Hunting here is very different than hunting in Connecticut, where deer practically leap out in front of you left and right (only a slight exaggeration). In our current region, the lower deer population combined with more abundant land mass is such that if you are not able to muster all the patience within your soul, your freezer is going to remain empty. But the good news is we do indeed have deer right here on this land, and it is hard to beat the beauty of walking to your tree stand right from the comfort of home, no vehicle needed We had that at our last home, too and it was wonderful. There is hunting to be had here, for those who are patient. The end of rifle season brings the return of bow season back, and muzzle loader is coming up, too, so there is more hunting ahead.
Writing this makes me think of something. The patience Adam would say he lacks in hunting does not convey to all aspects of his life. At least by my observation. Yes, he really does listen to podcasts sped up, but that’s because he does not like wasting precious time in life more than it is a sign of impatience. Professionally, he has all the time and care in the world for his clients. When out exploring in the woods, there is never a rush. In that scenario, he’s as open-ended, lose-all-track-of-time as they come. But for some reason hunting is different. Maybe it’s because the anticipation can reach fever-pitch, which puts you in a different zone than say, combing the forest in search of chaga or chanterelles. Or maybe we can just chalk it up to his Gemini status, which I am prone to do when it comes to explaining the mysteries of my better half. And for the marital record, I do not think he’s an impatient hunter, that’s his belief. The vast number of hours he’s logged in the woods, often in single digit temps, waiting-waiting-waiting for that one opportunity as I slumber peacefully in our warm bed, or sip coffee beside the woodstove? Yeah, I’d say he’s the patient one.
I hope you don't mind looking at a half-down wall between our kitchen and dining room for the foreseeable future. I sure don't! I'd rather feel this partial openness than closed off walls. We have discovered some rather significant structural issues that need to be addressed before finishing this wall properly with beautiful thick beams. Which is not going to happen until well after the holidays... or, when we find an abundance of time.
Yesterday I dug into the freezer and pulled out about seventy pounds of tomatoes to turn into sauce. I usually make an oven-roasted tomato sauce, but went back to using the stove top this year because as long as it takes to simmer down sauce, it’s easier for me to do large quantities on the stovetop versus the oven. I made one round already in late summer just to have enough to get us through, and now I need to finish taking care of the harvest. I used this recipe with my last batch and am using it again as it was quite delicious. I was skeptical as it calls for lemon juice to correct acidity due to it being water bath canned and I didn’t want the flavor to be off. It wasn’t! Prior to adding the lemon juice to the first batch, I gave it a taste and it was so good that I thought I’d just pressure can future batches if it seemed too acidic with the addition of lemon, which it did not. I am thankful for this because I don’t always love the level of babysitting that is required with pressure canning, especially when processing large batches of something. That isn’t really talked about much in the canning world, it’s usually only mentioned that people need not be afraid of pressure canning (which is true), but you don’t hear much about the need to stay close to keep an eye on the gauge, adjusting burner temps as needed (which with my last two persnickety electric stoves is needed often). With a water bath canner you just set the timer and walk away.
I am glad the flavor stayed true so I can water bath this tasty recipe. I love a thick and flavorful marinara and this recipe does the trick. We don’t eat much pasta, so our main uses for marinara are as a 50/50 base with broth for any Italian type soup, as a 50/50 base with salsa in chili, swirled into quiche (we love that!), made into a hearty meat sauce and stuffed into baked spaghetti squash halves then topped with mozzarella and popped back into the oven to get warm and bubbly. Those sort of things. It is a wonderful convenience food that can be used in multiple recipes.
Speaking of recipes, I have a winter blog project in mind. I’d like to add many herbal and cooking recipes to this site, but don’t want them to be in individual blog posts. When I look for a recipe on a blog I really want just the recipe. Maybe just a few sentences about it, but for me, a long preamble describing every moment in life that led to the recipe is unnecessary. I’d like to provide a virtual recipe box for you, straight and to the point. With pretty pictures, of course! I have a way to create “hidden posts” that I can list in one big recipe index, then put a tab for that on the upper menu bar. But dozens of posts with recipes will not be taking up front page space here, and I imagine one central index will be more user friendly. Hopefully all of that makes sense. I’m excited to use these winter months for such a project.
On that note, I’d like to share that over the last several months I’ve been working on a brand new online course that revolves around weekly food prep. You’ve been asking for this, and it is almost here! In my next post I’ll share all the details.
Our tree is up, decorations are slowly being placed here and there, and it is in these darkest days of December that I feel permission to rest deeply... biologically if not societally. Thankfully, the former is the instinct I am prone to acknowledge. Society will keep on spinning its tale with or without me, but biology is true and honest and dependable. Let us invest deeply.