Winter Bounty—Baskets of Goodness and the Football Pool
Winter sports do not excite me. In my daydreams I do not yearn to plunge down ski slopes, roar astride a bucking machine through snow-clad hills, or etch figure eights over the frozen river. As the daylight hours diminish, I harbor no nostalgia for mounting winter tires, finding the window scrapers or digging out the snow shovels. A roaring fire in the fire place, a pile of books in front of me, a steaming mug of hot chocolate at my side—that’s a picture to paint a smile on my face.
That doesn’t mean I consider winter to be eight months of confined inactivity. Impossible; there’s too much going on. As I see it, Halloween ushers in winter with witches and goblins—too much fun and too much candy. Hard on the footsteps of Spook Night, though a few leaves still cling to trees, though the last pieces of candy lodge hidden behind sofa cushions, Thanksgiving takes over. Families and friends gather ‘round dinner tables over-laden with platters of munificence. Every community, our larger family, opens hearts and doors to a neighborly feast. Nobody should feel left out. Then we munch turkey sandwiches while setting up the Christmas tree. As Christmas approaches, we can fill every weekend with bazaars, parades, festivals and celebratory events, all free for the showing up.
I haven’t bothered with a tree for several years. Last week, I set aside my “bah-humbug” and dragged my hat tree, the trunk of a juniper mounted on a horseshoe stand, adorned with vintage hats, from my bedroom to my living room. I wound the stubby branches with colored lights and shrouds of tinsel. Who knows—Santa might bring me a granddaughter or two for a visit. If so, they will collapse in giggles at my “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree.
While my garden snoozes beneath a blanket of snow, I decided to venture into the unknown and signed up for a cooperative program which periodically delivers fruits and vegetables to its subscribers. When, every other week the basket arrives, you never know what it might contain. It’s like Christmas. Since I live alone I had to justify this step to myself. If I buy it, I have to use it. I reasoned that I would feed myself a more nourishing diet. I figured I might juice, can, or freeze the overflow.
A tisket, a tasket, my first basket more than met my expectations. This week the basket exceeded all reason, heaped with Romaine lettuce, salad onions, radishes, green peppers, mushrooms, yellow onions, a wad of cilantro, acorn and butternut squash, broccoli, summer squash, a bowl of limes, a half- dozen avocados, a dozen bananas, heaps of tomatillos, cucumbers, dried red ancho chiles, jalapenos, limes, a lovely papaya, two chayote and a peck of persimmons. All that goodness.
Last winter I never ate this well. I’m not sure what to do with the chayote but I’ll figure it out. I’ll bake a couple of the persimmons and make jam with the rest. Meanwhile, I arranged the orange persimmons in a brown and yellow pottery bowl, art on my table. Papaya has never been my favorite tropical fruit, but I’m going to experiment with papaya pie. I’ll make salsa and freeze some of the squash. I wish I could roll back the clock and be cooking for my family. Instead I’ll invite friends to share a meal or two.
While I’m wallowing in all this seasonal bounty, I figure it is not unreasonable for me to wish for one more win of the football pool. Never mind that two of the men at the city shop, where we gather for coffee and fill out our predictions, have yet to win this year and give me the stink eye. I’ve won twice. They can’t stand it. They’ve threatened to ban me. Although I never watch football, I have a system, brilliant in its simplicity. Of each two teams playing, I choose the city I would rather visit. Plus I have four picks cast in concrete based on past connections. I always choose Seattle, Green Bay, South Dakota (SD) and Nebraska (NE). I have generously shared my system with the guys, but they ignore me. Three wins in one year would be mighty impressive. I figure if I win one more pool, I will have earned a place in the Hall of Fame with a plaque on the wall of the city shop above the coffee pot. I have three more chances.
Bountiful good will should carry me through Christmas and into the New Year and the depths of winter. Eventually the days will lengthen, gardening catalogs will fill my mail box, I’ll muddle through snow and cabin fever, and if the world doesn’t end, my early tulips will herald spring.
HDN: Looking out my back door
December 13, 2012