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So far I haven’t died.

Or hallucinated.

That seems like a good thing.

Practical Man found a giant puffball yesterday, when he was out in our forest.   When he told me how large it was, I decided I had to see it for myself.

Out in The Nature, as it were.

This tells you what a momentous occasion it was.  Me, out in The Nature, in the middle of the week, no less.

Practical Man standing in the forest by a fence.

That’s Practical Man, not me. If you catch a picture of me in the forest, it’s kind of like capturing a picture of a Sasquatch in the forest (ie: rare).

We ventured out today after lunch, across the yard, down our forest path and back to the last part of our trail, before it ends at the farmer’s lane.  I pointed out what I thought were new trees and Practical Man assured me that those trees had been there for 10 years.  I noted the grassy areas where there used to be just rocks and he shook his head.

Sigh.

Things sure do change in The Nature, when you only come out to visit a few times a decade.

Finally, under the trees, off the trail, I saw it.

I didn’t see any fairies dancing.

But, then, this wasn’t a toadstool.   It was a puffball.

I picture Rubenesque fairies (of the sort I could blend in with), eating ice cream under this cherubic baby.

Or rather, babies.

There were two.

Two puffball mushrooms - one very large one in the foreground.

A giant puffball and a super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious puffball.  The giant-est puffball of them all.

It’s hard to capture the scale, when it’s in the forest, but it was GIGANTICO.

Bigger than my head and we all know that my head is blessed with some magnificent largesse.

This mushroom was endowed with some encephalic proportions, yes sirree.

Here’s a picture of it in the kitchen sink, in case you had any doubts about the size of it.

giant puffball so large, it almost won't fit in a standard kitchen sink

The puffball, not my head.

I was slightly nervous, what with it being a wild mushroom and all.   Practical Man knew what it was (Calvatia gigantea) but, to reassure his suburban-born wife, he did a little extra research.  The Google assured us that it was the harmless and edible Giant Puffball (The Google is always truthful and wise, as long as you don’t believe much of what it says.)  And, our friend, Trail Diva, reassured me that we seemed to be the lucky owners of a forest delicacy.

Fried in some butter, it could even be used in lieu of noodles for lasagna, she said.

She had me at “fried in some butter”.

Accordingly, Practical Man plucked it from its forest home and brought it to the house.

It was kind of like bringing home the moon.

A moon that might kill us with its toxins and pent-up mushroom rage.

What, what, what?

A puffball is a pretty show-offy mushroom with its moon scape-y shape and super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious size, I think you’ll agree.  This made me wonder if it might be the mean girl of the mushroom world.

You can tell I love The Nature, right?

We had to use a very big, bread knife and even that wasn’t enough to deal with the extravaganza of mushroom we had on our hands.

Practical Man's hands slicing the first slice off the mushroom

Houston, we need more counter space!

I can hear my friend Pippi saying, “Bleeech”, as I write this.

Not a mushroom fan, that one.

Even I was slightly overcome.  This was bigger than the watermelon we had last week and that took a party and 4 meals to devour.

We have mushroom enough for crowds.

large slices of mushroom on the cutting board. The remaining mushroom beside them still looks HUGE.

Or, for a wicked show-and-tell at school.

Yes, definitely that.

Except, there’s no show-and-tell when you’re an adult, more’s the pity.  Many a meeting could be livened up with some show-and-tell, don’t you think?

I’m not sure mushrooms would make it past the (inevitable) safety checkpoint on the way to work show-and-tell, though.

A plate piled high with strips of mushroom

Looks like tofu, tastes like butter.

Anyway, we cooked it, outside on the barbecue (it’s the expensive hydro rates in the afternoon and it’s 30 degrees C today, that’s why).

Fried in butter, ‘cos those were our instructions.

Honest.

frying pan with slices of mushroom, golden brown

We both tried a little schnibble, after it had been fried.

(I watched for convulsions, in case Practical Man and The Google and Trail Diva were wrong.)

It tastes pretty good but we’re not sure about the consistency.

Slightly mushy.  Too much butter?

Is there such a thing?

We’ve decided we’ll make lasagna a la Trail Diva with it.

Even though the Italians are probably rolling over in their gnocchi-lined graves.

And Pippi is probably saying, “Double Bleech.”

By the way, this post is a bit of a “do not try this at home” affair.  Don’t–I repeat:  DON’T just grab mushrooms out of your yard and chow down.

Gotta be careful with the fungi, friends.

If we end up hallucinating or dying, I’ll let you know.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

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vintage crokinole board - wooden - with wooden checkers on it
When I was about six years old, I remember my normally sweet-tempered dad getting all bent out of shape.

We were playing Old Maid and I was winning.

He was working on his PhD in engineering at the time and I think it perturbed him greatly that despite all his life experience, knowledge of standard deviation and parabolas (or whatever) and genetic predisposition (his mom–my grandma–was kind of a game genius), he couldn’t beat his eldest child at a simple, children’s game of cards.

Or possibly, it was the way his six-year old triumphantly cackled and danced around when he was stuck with the Old Maid (I’m sure I was just pleased to be making up for the indignities of a patriarchal society that thought that the punishment in a card game should be called something so awful, so tragic, so open to mockery as a SINGLE WOMAN OVER A CERTAIN AGE.)

This was before Bridget Jones, dontcha know and okay, so I might be having some slightly retro-active indignity not actually experienced at the age of six.

Anyway, sexist game name and premise aside, there’s another reason that I rarely play games these days.  It’s because even though I am a delight 98% of the time, it turns out that when it comes to games, I am like my father.  Since neither my father nor I appear to have inherited his mother’s game genius gene, we do, like most humans, tend to lose sometimes.  A situation that leads quickly to the confirmed evidence that we are what you call Very Sore Losers.

I hope no one writes that on my tombstone.

And, I have become quite familiar with this darker side of my personality because when Practical Man and I have played Poker on holidays or Cribbage when we are camping in the Boler, he wins EVERY TIME.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, but actually “wins” is too mild a word.  “TROUNCE” is more like it or maybe “WALLOP”.   I sort of get it when it’s Poker (even though I’ve played since I was a pre-teen) or Cribbage in the Boler (because, how can I concentrate when I’m hanging out in the Boler that I l-o-o-ve?) but, I have the role of public wordsmith in our family.  How come he always, always beats me in Scrabble and Upwords?

It’s annoying, I’m sure you can understand.

All this losing and blah, blah, blah.

So, then I act all mature and refuse to play.

But, since it’s the festive season and in our family, that is a time for games, I suggested to Practical Man that we have a couple of friendly games of crokinole on Christmas Eve.

Y’know, just for fun.

(In the interests of full disclosure, my mother’s side of the family are crokinol-ers from way back.)

Practical Man asked me for the rules, all innocent-like and then proceeded to TROUNCE and WALLOP me in game one, despite my God-given genetic pre-disposition to crokinole greatness.  So, we started on game two of the best of three and suddenly, inexplicably, it seemed as if I actually stood a chance at winning.

It was practically a Christmas Miracle!

Even better, Practical Man had the unfortunate luck to hit the crokinole checker directly into one of the pegs on the board, four turns in a row.  If you haven’t experienced this, let me just emphasize that when the checker hits one of the pegs on the board, it bounces back at you in a fairly humiliating sort of way.

Mwah, ha, ha!

On the fourth time, so giddy was I about the prospect of winning a game that I succumbed to a fit of giggles which quickly turned into “can’t stop laughing” followed by “falling off chair laughing” which is the universal sign in my house for “she’s about to faint“.

And so ended my magnificent path to crokinole glory.  I had to spend the rest of the evening on the couch with my feet in the air, trying to get my nervous system to calm down and the blood flowing consistently back to my brain.

Nervous system:  I know I’ve told you this before, but, you are seriously high maintenance.

And by the way, I WAS WINNING!

My great grandparents’ crokinole board from the farm in Grey-Bruce County lives with my uncle Gruff and his family.  The original wooden board was always super polished and smooth or as my dad would say:

SmooooTH (rhymes with “tooth”).

(When he’s not being A Sore Loser, my father tweaks language in delightful ways like this.)

You could see your face in that crokinole board.

Having been thwarted at winning once this week already, I decided to press my luck at the Boxing Day festivities at my parents house.

Before I knew it, I was sitting down to a friendly game of crokinole with my two cousins and Practical Man.

I was pretty sure that with me and my two cousins SURELY all having at least a pinch of the family crokinole gene, I was definitely on a winning team.

Game one went like this:

  • Practical Man and my cousin (team one) scored 80 points (we were playing to 100) in round one.
  • Me and my other cousin (team two) scored 10 points in round two.
  • Practical Man and my cousin (aka crokinole shark) took the game in round three.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you possibly the world’s shortest crokinole game.

Cue my Sore Loser face.

My uncle Gruff’s daughter number two subbed as Practical Man’s new partner.  Gruff’s first daughter and I decided that we were not “Losers” but rather “Points Deficient” (also – we were fond of the fact that PD is much harder for the enemy team to sign on their foreheads than L).  Being only Points Deficient and not Losers, we talked the talk.  We were “working a strategy” for the best of three games.

Then, she confessed that she had drunk more wine than she thought.

So, I did my best to distract the enemy team  by blurting out random diversions like “German slippers” and this helped me and my cousin (aka tipsy teammate) slide to a tenuous victory in game two.

I was on a winning team!  Well, at least a tied-for-winning team.

Then, it was game three.  Turns out that Gruff’s daughter number two alternated between being a crokinole savant and being the Julia Child of crokinole (that is, highly entertaining while simultaneously klutzy).  Her partner, Practical Man, used some of his more aggressive manoeuvers to fling checkers off the board and on the carpet but, he was often successful at clearing the board of our checkers.  My partner and I patiently gathered points, clawing our way, step-by-step ever closer to the magical 100.

It took a while.

There was a round with only 5 points scored.

There was a round with ZERO points scored.

Ladies and Gentlemen:  I give you possibly the world’s longest crokinole game.

And then…

Cue my Sore Loser face.

The darn posts on the board:  they leap out at your checkers, not to mention, we are highly suspicious that they may be magnetic.

My grandpa and my uncles could all do some kind of Jedi-voodo-crokinole magic and bounce their checker off pegs, knock about three of the opposing checkers off the board and land snugly in the hole that is worth 20 points.

Sure, sure.

I’d like to see them beat me at Old Maid.

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


Finally, one of my childhood dreams has come true:

I spent last night in a Little House on the Prairie episode.

At least, that’s what it sounded like, if I closed my eyes.

I wasn’t wearing a calico dress (although, let’s face it, I would have, if I could have found one) but nonetheless, I managed to pretend I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, wearing calico, at a dance in the church/school, swooning over Almanzo (Manly) Wilder.

I was actually wearing jeans and a voopy blouse, at the firehall/library, swooning over Practical Man, so it was kind of the same, really.

After over a decade of living in the country, Practical Man and I went to the Friday night jam session at the firehall/library.   The same firehall/library, which has my favourite librarian (her name is also Christine; I don’t think that’s a coincidence) and which, Practical Man rarely hesitates to point out, is just under 5 km from our front door, which is a very good thing because it means that you get a break on your insurance rate.   Over 5 km and you’re out of luck.

I can’t believe I know that thing about insurance rates.  What is happening to me?

Anyway, the sandwich board sign we have driven past for over a decade advertised “Friday Night Jam Session:  All Welcome.  7-10 pm” so even though I wasn’t wearing calico, we decided to go.  We were slightly late and smelling heavily of garlic, on account of having just consumed a super tasty dinner of bruschetta made out of cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic from our garden.

Fresh bruschetta is totally worth the social consequences.

We found some chairs at the back of the room and, trying not to exhale garlic fumes too much, settled in to see what was what.   There was a couple waltzing near the front, a lady crooning some old, lovely song at the microphone and a plethora of musicians behind her, playing assorted instruments.

View from our seat at the back towards the stage

The man next to me leaned over (dangerously into the garlic fume zone, I might add), nodded his head in the direction of the waltzers and said, “Can you believe they’ve been married 70 years?”

Since I have entered the middle of ages–and strapping university football players have alarmingly started asking me things during career counselling appointments like, “If I were YOUR son, what would you tell me to do?” even though I feel 23 and FAR too young to be a university student’s parent–I might have described the man next to me as “a young man” except that even though he was easily 20 years younger than I, he and his wife and I were all a good 30 years younger than everybody in the room.  Practical Man leaned towards my ear and whispered, “Even I feel young in this place!” and although I, like Laura Ingalls Wilder, have married an older man, I agreed with him.

He DID look young (and not entirely dissimilar to Almanzo Wilder, if I squinted a little).

The man who was young (ahem, like me), appeared to know everyone in the room and told us that this place was “like family” and “don’t be nervous to sing because everyone is really nice”.

I had not come to sing or play guitar:  I had come to get the lay of the Friday night jam session land (and to pretend I was Laura Ingalls Wilder).

Because, here’s the thing:

Not everyone can sing.

I can carry a tune but I’m not sure it’s public-performance-get-up-on-a-stage kind of worthy.  And, I have more than one music-loving friend who is completely tone deaf.  Listening to them belt out a song with the car radio is sort of torture.  But, I always let them do it.  In fact, I sing along.  When I was a teenager, I used to always roll the windows down with my friend Niggle, because the pain of listening to him sing (I use that term loosely because really, there was only one note) was lessened somewhat if I was simultaneously exposed to fresh air.

And lots of it.

But he loved music and I couldn’t rob him of that.  The joy of music is that it’s free to everyone, regardless of talent or tone-deafness.

Sometimes, this is a slightly painful philosophy to uphold.

Last night, the singers were not professional.  They were, more often than not, septua or octo-genarians, but enthusiastic and often, quite capable.  It really was like an episode of Little House on the Prairie, with Pa playing the fiddle and Ma and Mr. Edwards dancing and Laura and Mary clapping.

Wait.

Okay, I’m back.

Anyway, the rules of the Friday Night Jam seemed to be:

  1. if you want to sing/play, sign up on The List
  2. when your name is called, you get to sing/play two songs, max (don’t be hoggy of the microphone, even though it’s super fun to sing into one)
  3. no song shall have been written after 1955 (we’ll make an exception for Buddy Holly but only because Don does that stuff really well)
  4. audience shall clap enthusiastically for everyone
  5. dance if you’re inspired (waltz, foxtrot, two-step…ie REAL dancing only)
  6. there will, of course, be a lunch

The musical repertoire was from before my time (because I am oh-so young!) but often recognizable and sweet, even if I didn’t know the words.  Practical Man kept singing along.

He seemed to know the words to that one.

And the next one, too.

As in, ALL the words.

This is what comes from having a May-September romance.  He really is the Almanzo Wilder to my Laura Ingalls.

Tra-la-la.

Around 8:15, there was The Lunch.

Table full of sandwiches, squares, cookies

One of my favourite things about country parties and Legion dances is that there’s always The Lunch.   It’s so vintage feeling and there is some magical formula that makes those triangle sandwiches always taste so good when you’re eating them in a firehall/library.

Then, it was back to the music.  There was someone playing a fiddle (because that’s what you call a violin in the country):

This is not a violin, it's a fiddle

There was also a harmonica, keyboards, guitar, base and even a mandolin (I love to imitate a mandolin, the way my dad does when he’s singing along to the Mr. Bojangles song, but I won’t do that here).

The couple celebrating their 70th anniversary would occasionally get up and waltz.

Mitch (the young man sitting next to us) and his bride Brittany did the two-step to a jaunty number.

Assorted instruments

There were some mumblers (think:  Jeff Bridges in True Grit, not Bob Dylan) and painful singers who hadn’t quite cracked what key they should be in, but overall, it was lovely and rural and vintage-y.

That is, until, Mitch leaned over and said, “I guess you can see that you and us are quite a lot younger than everyone here.”

Before I could nod and act nonchalantly as if I wasn’t old enough to be Mitch’s mother, he continued, “I’m 26 and Brittany’s 22.  What are you, 30?”

That’s when this episode of Little House on the Prairie became:

The Best Night Ever.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


It’s easy to live a vintage life in the country.  For example, our house comes with some property and on it, a little forest.

Our forest with a path

And having a forest, as we do, Practical Man likes to meander through it daily.  He communes with The Nature in a way that I will never understand.

I love him, anyway.

You may recall that The Nature is my fair-weathered friend.  Or rather, my only-in-weather-where-it’s-not-too-too-shivery-and-not-too-sweaty-and-there-definitely-can’t-be-any-bugs friend.

That is, approximately 3.6 days per year.

And, any of you who are sympathetic to The Nature and shocked at my cantankerous relationship with it, you can just calm down.  The Nature is not all sweetness and innocence.  The Nature has its moods, lemme tell ya.  Just ask anyone who lives in the Canadian Maritime provinces right about now.

Up to their wazoos in snow, for the umpteenth time, they are.

And, if you don’t know where your wazoo is, well, if you ask a Maritimer, it’s approximately 3 feet above the average bungalow’s roof.

So there.

But, Practical Man doesn’t share my suspicion and distrust of The Nature.  He’s a frolicker in rain or shine, snow or bugs.  It’s weird, I say, from my perch safely indoors, where I am quite content to look outside through a window (in the manner of wise Canadians before me.)

Being a frolicker and fan of The Nature as he is, Practical Man’s favourite time all year is here:  maple syrup season.

Very vintage activity.

Did you know that you can make that stuff you put on pancakes out of TREE JUICE?

The Nature is so weird.

In February, Practical Man starts to feverishly check the weather network…I mean, his Farmer’s Almanac…several times a day and then, proceeds to tap any sugar maple trees at the first sign that the temperature is going a few degrees above zero (Celcius) during the day and a few degrees below zero (Celcius) at night.

bottles under tapped trees, collecting sap

This year, we are nearly a month late.

The Nature likes to toy with us humans in this way.

We usually  have around 30 sugar maple trees tapped, give or take.  Some trees are thick enough around, that they can handle two taps:

two bottles collecting sap from one bigger tree

 

I feel an affinity with these trees.  Being thick enough around, I think I’m a two tap tree, myself.

Hook me up.  I can take it!

But, I still say an extra little thank you under my breath when I pass these guys.

Practical Man came up with this ingenious sap collection system, using old (cleaned) water bottles, some sap tubing, a spigot (the part that goes into the tree) and ta-da!  plastic wine glasses from the dollar store.  The wine glasses have their bases removed and the sap tubing is threaded through their necks so that the glasses hang upside down over each bottle neck.   The sap then drip, drip, drips down into the bottle.

image of the bottle/tubing/spigot/glass sytem

This upside-down-wine glass system prevents rain and when it’s warmer, moths, from getting into the sap.  The big bottles also mean that on days when the sap is really flowing, there will be no tragic overflows, as can sometimes happen when you use the old system of buckets like these:

old fashioned sap bucket on a tree

There has been enough sap in one day some years that these buckets fill completely and then…shock, disaster!  They overflow, losing precious sap on the ground.

Have you ever seen a Practical Man weep?

I blame The Nature.

Now, we leave one “demonstration tree” with its old-fashioned bucket so that kids and visitors can see how it used to be done.

sap bucket with lid on it

Don’t let that lid fool ya.  It’s cool and vintage but, it doesn’t keep out much rain or moths.

Then, depending on The Nature and the speed of sap flow, Practical Man collects sap for a week or so before he boils it off into syrup.  You can’t store sap for too long without it spoiling and you can’t keep a Practical Man cooped up in the house, when the smell of Spring is in the air.

Early in the morning, on boil day, Practical Man goes to the stove he built for maple syruping (maple syrup turns into a verb in Ontario in the Spring).  He gets some logs and kindling…

stacked firewood beside the maple syrup stove

 

And then, he starts a fire in the stove…

fire inside the stovePractical Man is kind of a fire show-off.  He probably made this one with three twigs and a piece of chewing gum.

It burns at approximately 3 trillion degrees.

Our stove is an old household oil tank, turned on its side.  Holes were cut in the (now) top to hold six pans over the fire.  A door was cut in the (now) end so that he can load the logs (and chewing gum).  He’s got draft holes with tubes running through the firebox so he can control the burn.  A chimney off the (now) top/back of the tank draws the smoke up and out.

Those things up against the tank are paving stones.  They insulate the tank somewhat so that you can get near it without singeing off parts of your skin (important for when I come out to play, since I come from long line of klutzes, including one person who cut herself on an onion bun.)

To keep the sap until he boils, Practical Man stores it in (new) clean garbage buckets.  If it’s getting warm, he packs snow around them to keep the sap cool until boil day.

2 garbage buckets full of sap

Yep, that’s sap ice in there.  It hasn’t warmed up yet, but I won’t complain (see earlier note about The Nature and the maritime provinces) because that would just be rude to our PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick friends.

On boil day, the sap is gradually put in the 6 pans over the fire.  It begins to evaporate off the water and leave the sugar behind.  We keep adding more sap as the steam boils off and the remaining sap keeps concentrating and so on and so on.  It’s kind of a steamy miracle, really.  Or, as I like to call it:

A maple syrup facial.

6 steaming pans of sap

Then, all day, there is a lovely little dance that involves moving sap from one pan to another.  Adding sap from the buckets to the coffee cans around the boil pans so that the new sap can warm up a bit before it’s ladled into the hot pans.  Skimming the froth off the top of the sap in the pans, as it boils.  Slowly, slowly, over hours and hours, the water evaporates and the remaining sap gets more and more concentrated in sugar.

(Or something like that.  Honestly, I’m mostly the photographer, lunch fixer and product tester.)

Practical Man moving sap from one pan to another

 

All I know is, it takes a long time, a lot of work and a lot of patience.  At the end of which, you get 40x less syrup than you had sap.

That is…40 litres of sap yields approximately 1 litre of sugar.

I know:  all that time, work and patience and we get…what, what, what?!

And how’s this for a little more math:  today, we boiled 190 litres of sap and we’ll get around 5 litres of syrup (that luxurious excess is because the first boil of the season is usually sweetest).

This is the part where I confess that I would (might) have boiled sap into syrup once and thought, “Wow, that was really neat (and boy, was it a LOT of time, work and patience.)”

I would never, ever have felt the need to do it again.  Nope.

But then, I tend to the indoors and am a die-hard chocolate girl.  If you ever find trees that yield sap that turns into chocolate, sign me up!  I will boil that baby until the cows come home.

And, I am afraid of cows.

This is maple syrup season #11 for us and Practical Man still loves it.

He looks cute in his lumberjack ensemble too.

What can I say?  It keeps me coming back year after year.

The sap is getting syrup-y now.  And bubbly.  All the better for the maple syrup facial.

Mmmmmmmm.

Not sure why my eyelashes are sticking to my face.

pans with vigorously boiling pans of syrup

 

The fire gets stoked some more:

Practical Man stokes the fire

Slowly, slowly, the pans boil off enough water that the remaining, concentrate sap gets moved to the centre pans.  It sounds simple – oh, yes – just move that hot, steaming, scalding pan full of hot, steaming, scalding sap!

transferring sap from one pan to another - hot!

Well okay, then.

I’ll stand over here because I am a documented fraidy-cat.

The centre pans contain the most concentrated of all the sap and will become syrup.  There is a magic formula that involves a full moon, barometric pressure, the boiling point of water and whether you’re facing east and standing on your left foot (just kidding – you need both feet on the ground when you’re dealing with hot, steamy, scalding sap.)

Anyhoo, today, the super secret special maple magic thermometer had to reach 7 degrees Celcius (that’s hot, steaming, scalding to us lay people) above the boiling point of water before the sap would be the right consistency:

thermometer in the sap

 

That is to say, it wasn’t SAP anymore.

It was SYRUP!

(I think applause is warranted.  It’s taken us hours to get to this point, honestly, I can’t believe you don’t think this deserves a standing ovation).

Finally, it’s time for another treacherous journey:  from the last hot, steaming, scalding pan into the first of the filters;  a paper one inside a wool one:

Filters with maple syrup going through

 

Drip, drip, drip.

Yep, it’s definitely syrup.

And, that means that no matter what The Nature has up its sleeve from here on out:

it’s definitely Spring.

——————————————————–

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


I think I owe The Nature an apology.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you may recall that I do tend to complain about The Nature a lot.   Since childhood, I have avoided it like…well, like mosquitoes and poison ivy and frostbite and wind burn.  But, I realized today that I don’t, in fact, truly dislike The Nature, as much as I sometimes think I do.

I just like the Starbucks version of nature.

I like the Frank Sinatra version.

That is, I like it my way.

Like today:  today was The Nature at its sparkly winter best.

Scene of a snowy field

It was the kind of sunny, crisp and perfect day that we often get here in southern Ontario, Canada.  The kind of day where, you can bundle up a bit and snuggle into some cozy mittens and a good coat’s hood.  You can pretend that you’re in a little cave in your hood and the wind can howl but you’re all snugged up in your hood (as long as the wind is cooperating and blowing in the right direction) and you can giggle to yourself and marvel at how much better a hood is than a mere hat, even though hats are among your most favourite things in the whole world.

Anyway.

Then, when you get out in The Nature, you breathe the clean, cold air and act as if you totally meant to fall on your face as you skid off a patch of snow while attempting to stomp around in your–magnificent hood but, unfortunately also–boots that don’t have anywhere near enough traction.

As you were, neighbours.  Nothing to see here but a woman on her keester.

Today wasn’t a snow pants day (but remind me to talk about that some other day because snow pants are one of life’s great joys that not enough adults indulge in) and it wasn’t a snowshoe day, so I was wearing my quasi-citified boots, instead of my “I mean Canadian winter business, heavy as two Godfather cement bricks boots” (which perhaps explains the falling on my face).

My feet

Barely a skiff of snow around my mostly inappropriate boots

Anyway, triple axle achieved, I wandered back through our property, traipsing through the skiff of snow with intention, with purpose.  I put stray thoughts of rabid packs of coyotes out of my mind and pretended that The Nature and I were old pals and bosom friends.  Into the Woods (humming songs from the play/movie), I went.

Then, I segued onto the farmer’s lane that joins our property and walked up to the giant field.

field

Field of Dreams and this only one quarter of it!

And, not just any giant field:  this is a giant field of dreams.

That is, the field that a kindly neighbour has plowed around the perimeter.   It is a cross-country skiing/snowshoeing/traipsing around in your quasi-citified boots masterpiece.

So around it, I went.  (If you build it, they will come–or in my case, traipse, while trying not to fall on my keester again).

Path around the field

Last year, The Nature was having one of its temper tantrums and the ground was covered in a thick layer of ice with a gigantic pile of snow on top for the entire winter.  There was no perimeter on the field of dreams.  There was only heartache and sweating and occasional  hysterical laughter as we tried to snowshoe in drifts up to our hips.

But today, it was grand.  All the cells and atoms and thing-a-ma-bobs in my heart and brain and elbows went “boing, boing, boing” as they filled up with sunshine and started dancing around inside me, filling up my cozy mitts and magnificent hood.

No wonder I felt a little dizzy.

I traipsed on, around and around the field I went, holding my arms out at the sides to steady me so I wouldn’t fall over while my sunshine cells did their dancing.

As you were, neighbours.  Nothing to see here but a dizzy woman walking.

Then, I thought it:  the thing that makes me realize I need to apologize to The Nature:

I thought these four, incredible words:  “I am having fun.”

Outside.

By myself.

In The Nature.

And, with a gasp, I realized that today is not the first time that has happened.

long shadow of me while walking

Plus, it’s also fun to make your legs look all gangly like this.

As you were, neighbours.  Nothing to see here but a mostly-indoor woman enjoying The Nature.

Weird.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my book.