A year ago this weekend we were in Shelburne Falls, a magical place I’ve written about before. Unbeknownst to us, it would be our last “normal” getaway pre-pandemic. By normal I mean mask-free, hugs okay, indoor dining and open mic nights at local breweries — it was all still happening. We’d stopped in nearby Turner’s Falls on our way there, and delighted with what we found, looked forward to returning to explore it there further. I miss that.
Nevertheless, I’m thankful we have some photos of the time. Photos can make me feel wistful and nostalgic, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, it really depends on the photo, as well as my mood.
Looking at the year-old Shelburne Falls photos makes me happy, I suppose because I feel that hope is closer on the horizon now. In the meantime I have our photos to remind me of that weekend —The Deerfield River iced over, fresh snowfall, misty breath in frosty evening air, and plenty of walks back and forth from the Airbnb across the Iron Bridge, and past a silent Bridge of Flowers into Buckland — for favorite restaurants, the brewery and the coop. We enjoyed the Friday open-mic night at Floodwater Brewing followed by a cozy Saturday evening at the fabulous Blue Rock Bistro, sitting at the bar. Casablanca was showing on the screen and we shared a delicious meal and cocktails. Morning coffee run to Mocha Maya’s and homemade doughnuts from the Foxtrot Diner. Walks through quiet streets with friendly hellos and drivers who actually drive like people live there — and even better — stop to let them cross the street. Places like Shelburne Falls don’t need a pandemic to slow things down and illuminate what truly matters, they never forgot, but for others who have forgotten, our former speeded-up, business-as-usual world would be one of the few pandemic casualties I’d welcome.
Between St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, GroundHog Day and St. Blaise’s Feast Day this week, there’s a whole lotta light and candle magic going on. I celebrate the Solstices, Equinoxes and cross-quarter days in some small way, as I find this to be a sort of anchor for the rhythm of my days and the flow of the seasons. They can certainly be something to look forward to, much like the phases of the moon for me. There is endless information available over how different cultures celebrate some of these festivals or feast days, but I prefer to do my own abbreviated versions of various rituals associated with my own Celtic heritage — and as we are now halfway through the dark season and moving into the light, naturally I have candles lit. Keeping it simple means I will actually celebrate with some intention. For St. Brigid’s Day and Imbolc, I have my herbal smoke blend with violet leaf, and a supper of salmon, with my riff on Colcannon (basically a mash of potato and cabbage) of kale and potato — the salmon symbolizes the return of Springtime for me, violets are early harbingers of the warmer days ahead, and the potato is a reminder of the importance of the dark of the underground, as well as the light from above for growth and renewal. Stuff like this is just one of the things that floats my boat, what floats yours?
There are many love languages; I believe food is one of them, and I have probably mentioned this sentiment before. From the simplest to the most complex, scratch cooking takes time; giving and sharing our precious time here is another aspect of love.
I’ve discovered many recipes from assorted cookbooks that I’ve adopted as my favorites, and many recipes I love that people I’ve loved have shared with me. I in turn share the cookies, or the bread, or the carrot cake, or the granola I’ve made from those recipes with others. I’ll share the recipe if they ask, and when they make it for themselves, they’ll always say to me “but it wasn’t as good as yours.” That’s because it didn’t have my own special love ingredient. It had theirs, and they gotta be able to recognize it. And all this sharing, it does keep the love going round and round.
Woke up this morning with vertigo, and it has yet to subside. I did try one of the exercises recommended for it, but that only made me nauseous.
So … I’ve chosen to look at it as a reminder for me to slow down, take it easy, sit with Oonagh on the settee, mend my gauntlets, and make another pair. What??! Make another pair??! That’s taking it easy? Relax.
I use the sleeve tubes and the calf tubes from old sweaters and socks that I can easily felt in the wash, and these have been ready to go for years. All I needed to do was a couple of straight snips for thumbs and openings. When I want to reinforce the snipped edges, then I make a few simple blanket stitches with a contrasting yarn or heavy-duty thread.
I had made up a refrigerator cookie dough (recipe here) the other day, so I sliced and baked that, and I must say, dark rye flour is definitely becoming a favorite grain. I very carefully did a load of laundry, but skipped the shower I had hoped to take. Basically, I’ve had to live my day more mindfully and I’ll tell you, the more we can manage to do this for ourselves, well, for me, I find life more pleasurable when I do so.
Every Friday for a few months now I’ve been making Fish sandwiches on Fridays. I’ve been calling it Fishwich Friday but because I love the way fish-a-ma-jig rolls off the tongue, I’ve decided that if it’s haddock I’m frying then it’s fish-a-ma-jig Friday. When I use pollock? That’s fishwich Friday.
There used to be a Massachusetts ice cream and diner-type restaurant chain called Friendly’s that was a local favorite in downtown Hyannis. It was one of those places with the best marshmallow topping-hot-fudge-sundae-with-mint-chip-ice cream-and-jimmies, fribbles, frappes, burgers, hot dogs, pancakes, scrambled eggs, and … fish-a-ma-jigs.
A grill cook worked behind the counter, with customers watching and gabbing and spinning on their barstools, waiting for their orders. It was a place where lots of kids began their first job, working the takeout window, counter, booth and kitchen service. The waitress uniform was the classic shirtwaist dress, apron and frilled crown of an atomic age parlor maid. Empty-nesters, older part-timers and old-school management rounded out the crew. Dare I say it? It was a Friendly place and its image in downtown Hyannis is embedded in the memory of my childhood. And that’s my story for today, because, yup, it’s fish-a-ma-jig Friday.
*Jimmies aka sprinkles
*Fribble aka milkshake, or is a milkshake also a frappe? Best to look it up. Even I get confused on these New England colloquialisms like fribbles and frappes. Now, as for awful-awfuls, well that’s a story for another day (like never😉).