Yes, it’s absolutely true that it rains here. I mean really rains. As in November through May you can expect a 50% chance rain on any given day which is most days. Half the year. Half the year with gray skies, wet shoes and saturated, moss-filled lawns.
There’s a large percentage of us who welcome the start of the rainy season in the fall. We’re ready to head inside. To have some quiet time of introspection. To pull out wool scarves, down jackets and rain boots. To make soups, pots of chili and braised meats. I am one of those people. As a matter of fact, being a native of this wet world, if I go too long without rain I start to get itchy.
Of course, fall leads into winter which is welcoming in its own stark way. A lack of clutter. A time to clean our mental house. To take blank sheets of paper and write out our goals, our dreams, our hopes for the new year.
Which brings us up to the last moments of winter, just days from the start of spring. Those days when I know we still have at least 3 1/2 more months of rain but when I am ready to have this heaviness lifted from my mind. To see my family in bright, clear detail as opposed to dim, hazy light. To trade in the movies on the couch for bike rides along the river. To retire the soup pot and fire up the grill. To see the outside world decorated in something other than neutrals.
And just when I can’t take the gray and rain one more day and feel like I’m going to start scratching the ceiling….
The days grow longer. And while not sunlight per se, it is light…later. And that light bekons me outside where I welcome the chance to do even that never-ending chore of weeding…in-between rain showers.
And while I’m outside I start to look around and notice that there are little bits of color waiting to be found.
Little nubs on trees.
New shoots poking their way past rain soaked leaves.
Chives that have filled in with their long, slender green leaves. Leaves that are just waiting for me to snip and use in a recipe.
And overnight it seems, those lovely daffodils raise the curtain on their spring spectacle. The viewing of which does wonders to lift the spirits.
And even though these are all but tiny hints of what’s to come, they help. Somehow the gray sky doesn’t seem nearly as oppressive. The rain not nearly so inconvenient since the air is warm(er). The mind somehow less foggy.
And it is my dearest hope that all of the people in Japan who have lost so much after the terrible wreckage and destruction of the earthquake and tsunami may start to see tiny hints of hope. Fragments of color. Something, anything, that can help to lift the extraordinary sense of loss and despondency they must surely be feeling.
Hints of Hope
Here are some folks trying to help out. Trying to send a tiny hint of hope to our friends across the ocean.
Tiny Bits of Chive All Wrapped Up in Goat Cheese Love
I cannot get enough of this goat cheese spread. I make it year-round with whatever kind of fresh herbs are available in my garden. For the past few months I’ve been using rosemary…that winter-hardy herb…but I’m delighted that I can give good ole rosemary a rest and snip some fresh chives. In the summer, I love to use basil. Of course, you could use a medley of any of your favorite herbs. My daughter and the 5-year old love this spread as well and are always thrilled to find it set out on the table along with some flatbread crackers, dry salami and cucumber slices. My 3-year old nephew will inhale an entire 8 oz portion of this spread if left alone with the bowl. Needless to say, it’s a winner, unless of course, you don’t like goat cheese but then I can’t really help you out. Sorry…
8 oz plain goat cheese, softened
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped: rosemary, basil, chives, oregano, thyme or any combination of these
In a small saucepan, heat your olive oil over medium-low heat. Add your garlic cloves and let “simmer” for about 3-5 minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not brown, stirring often. Careful not to burn your garlic. Turn down your heat if necessary.
If I’m using rosemary, I usually add it in with the garlic cloves and let it simmer as well to help mellow its flavors. You can also do this with any of the other herbs.
Once the garlic has finished cooking, remove the pan from the heat and allow the oil to cool to room temperature. After that, remove the garlic from the pan either by straining it or doing like I do and just picking it out with a fork. (Goodness knows, I don’t want to have to clean a strainer.)
Put your goat cheese in a medium bowl. Add in 1-2 tbsp of the garlic infused olive oil. I usually add in 1 tbsp and taste it and then add more as I desire. Using the same fork I used to pick out the garlic, I stir up my cheese and oil. Then, I add in my fresh chives and gently stir to evenly combine.
Spoon your delicious spread into a lovely bowl. Top with a few sprigs of the herb you used. Set out with some crackers, cucumber slices and dry salami and Voìla!…an appetizer to impress. (Although I’ve been known to eat it out of the container, standing at the counter, with no one to impress but myself and it’s still good.)
St. Patrick’s Day
In case you’re looking for a little inspiration for St. Patrick’s Day reveling, here are a couple sites to check out:
Moved bags to be donated from entry-way to hall-closet alcove. People kept tripping over them.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Spending some quality time with the family during spring break……
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2011