nature

Birds

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On Saturday, I looked out the window and wrote:

Two magpies on the fence.

Then three.

Then four.

Then none.

On Sunday, I chanced upon an interview by Larry King with Anjelica Huston, whose autobiography, A Story Lately Told, takes its title from a traditional nursery rhyme:

One for sorrow,

Two for mirth,

Three for a wedding,

And four for death.

I looked again at the still, black fence. Nothing. The birds elsewhere seemed to pay no mind to misery or to joy. In the days that followed, the last remnants of snow and ice began to melt in the afternoon sun, which continued to rise and set over the valley. The crows antagonized the resident hawk, but neither party heard the clamor of hostility within these walls. The herd of deer marched on indifferently on both sides of the fence, and then today, spring arrived as it always does, and as it always must, upon winter’s end.

But didn’t you hear my silent resignation? I am the only human being living on the mountain. And I see magpies flying against storm clouds, but I don’t know where.

Music: Alexandre Desplat – River

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Missions Conference III, Philippines

***

I’m reminiscing. When can I return to the Philippines?

January is Here

[audio http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/4/1/2813831/Ill%20Wind.mp3]

It is January. Christmas is over, and next week the Fraser Fir tree that my parents and I picked out at the tree farm down the road will be stripped of its decor, loaded back into the car and brought to a recycling center where it will be broken down. The lights will come down and be kept in their boxes until the season returns to us at the end of the new year. The poinsettia will run its course, and the dried flowers and branches will find their place in the garage. In a week, I will return to Toronto, and live not atop a mountain overlooking the lake and valley, but in a flat, looking out into a concrete courtyard with a tree, dormant now I’m sure. At home, the deer will continue to visit, snacking on the shrubs that run along the edge of the cliff and frolicking in the grass. Sometimes the coyote follow, not far behind. The osprey will continue to perch on its usual gnarled tree, staring out toward the lake. The quail, absent for weeks, will soon return to once again scour the land for food.

And the sun will rise and set, and rise and set, over the mountains to the east and beyond the lake to the west.

Along the creek, near my parents’ house, Christmas ornaments hang off branches, bare during the cold winter months until the blossoming of spring.

Plastic ornaments mimic icicles, while fallen trunks and branches stretch across the frozen creek.

The last leaves, browned and dried, cling onto thin branches.

Fiery shrubs bring bursts of color amidst pale grasses along the partially frozen creek.

Black-and-white loons and their young take dips in the water.

For dinner, I pan-fry two fresh rainbow trout.

And so it is a new year. February waits next in line, the seasons continue their cycle, the sun and moon come and go, and I take it day by day.

Go, ill wind go away, skies are oh so gray, around my neighbourhood, and that’s no good.

Music: Ella Fitzgerald – Ill Wind

Stone Fruit Tart for a Summer’s Afternoon

With fresh peaches piling up in the kitchen and pitted cherries in the fridge leftover from former pie-making efforts, a stone fruit tart seemed like the perfect dessert to make.

This recipe is so simple and versatile, since any stone fruit – cherry, apricot, plum, peach, and so on – can be used either by itself or in combination. Because we had used up all the apricots for jam, we were left with cherries and peaches.

Almonds are quickly becoming my favorite nut, if only for their multiple applications in such a board range of baked goods. This almond crust is packed with a flavorful crunchiness while remaining light and crisp. A pleasant compliment to the depth of flavor in the fruits.

Powered with sugar after baking, the tart isn’t overly sweet at all.

Floral hints from the fresh hydrangeas in the garden.

I made this tart for a dinner party my parents attended at night. While tempted to pinch a piece off for myself, I had to hope for leftovers. Fortunately, they saved a piece or two for me. Midnight snacks are the best kind.

Recipe adapted from Patricia Wells’ The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris: recipe here.

Music: Innocence Mission – Our Harry