Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Frozen Squirrel

An occasional car, eighteen wheeler or heavy haul dump truck flies by. Depending upon their size, the air wash slams into the area near the highway sending litter and gravel skittering. The truckers are on a schedule. If they drive tandem with another person, the truck stops only for fuel. The automobiles pass by with purpose. To go from here to there. As a tourist, the choice is 65,70 or 75 mph and a direct route or to take slower blue highways. Named blue highways for their color on a map,they take you places you've never been. In your daily life, you're driven-either at the speed limit or faster, through a schedule of events. After I changed careers as a teacher, I vowed to never wear a watch. My daily life revolved around the sound of a bell, buzzer- dingalingaling-zazonnka-every 45 minutes. I didn't take the time to stop at the rest stop. They smelled, especially if there was merely an outhouse. If you were lucky, a local service group set up tables outside the rest stop providing busy travelers on major holidays with free coffee. They served moderately priced baked goods for the FFA or to send the senior class on a field trip to Washington. If you were unlucky, it was a vending machine or America's other rest stop-Mickey D's. Seven Roads to Home is your a rest stop.

For two hours Monday afternoon I sliced onions. In each onion is a small green bud at center. When the weather gets warmer and the temperature inside the garage storage bin
the urge to sprout begins. The 50+ pounds of yellow onions from last summer have to be dried or frozen. I make fun of our gosh and golly trips to a city. The urge to visit number #1 son in Minneapolis is like the onion's urge to sprout. In the interim, I will visit the Amish. For breakfast I ate Amish eggs and their fresh made scrapple. Only the homemade cranberry-walnut bread and dark roast coffee came from elsewhere.

This is Jorge's house. He is not Amish. The house formerly belonged to Titus' brother. Jorge, I have previously mentioned, is a refugee from the city. After a life of crime fighting and a short stint in local politics as a city councilman, he lives the life of a hermit. He's never touched the subject, but I believe he's hiding out. There are people who would like to do him harm. When I first met Jorge he struck me a the voice of reason. A few pointed questions later, his answer was merely," I was the only honest person..." I won't go into detail until the novel comes out. The title is Rosie and Rainbow.

Titus built a new house and saved the old, white,peeled- paint clapboard house adjacent to the new one as a small store serving the community with a wash house and meat prep area at the rear. The meat prep area has a stainless steel counter and a butcher block. We're cutting up the hog previously skinned and cut into two sides. A man in a baseball cap comes to the back door. " Hey, you want a beaver?" he asks. Titus laughs. "I've never eaten beaver," he replies. I ask the man in the baseball cap if it tastes like raccoon. "NO," he says, " more like muskrat."

Jorge is a reformed hunter. I ask permission to hunt deer on his property on the first day of the season. He accompanies me but doesn't hunt. Unlike my wife who would press for answers, I drop the subject. Our conversation hits upon how to cook a raccoon, the taste of squirrel and descends into a description of other delicacies I would simply label varmint. Then, I remember my Dad who loved squab from the roofless cement silo on Uncle Tony's farm. While Jorge and I laugh about similarities and I call us twin sons of separate mothers, our food tastes diverge. Hoecake and chitlins, raccoon and possum. Not my gourmet fare.

In my meanderings via the web this morning, I learn the Pennsylvania turnpike is currently free running and clear of obstructions. I briefly travel the Queens highway of Northern Ontario and stop for a rest along the motorways of Great Britain. When my sister came to visit we take her to the ridge top and the panoramic view. A fat red tailed hawk is on display, sitting above the Kickapoo River on an overhanging branch. His feathers are rustled from the cold.

In their trip across the state on highway 21 they spot a flock of turkeys. The deer , turkey and usual wildfowl here have been quiet of late. We spot bald eagles more frequently. The pheasants that crowed in the adjacent fields have been silent. Dawn points out a flock of crows she calls a family because it seems to be the same number-five, who fly over the house and land in the trees by the river. Someone recently asked if she'd seen any robins. I'm guessing the locals are tired of winter and want a sign of spring. We have a long white wire hanging from the peak of the rear entrance way, above a window. When the first hummingbird flies by the window and hovers there until it catches our attention, we'll hang the feeders and wait.
March roared in pre-spring 2009. My daughter's birthday on the vernal equinox isn't far off, but outside the swing hanging from the Norway pine branch sways in the wind. Plastic covering cement blocks has been shredded over the winter. It's too cold and windy to burn branches that have fallen from messy silver maples. The ground under the pines is covered with cones. Our supply of firewood is down to un-split, large logs, thus you can hear the propane furnace blower in the background. I think a visit to the Amish and their warm wood fired stove in the kitchen would be appropriate about now. They've asked for Dawn's sauerkraut recipe. I've been saving egg cartons and plastic tubs for butter.

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