|Water drops on branches|
|Ms Ball looking for birds.|
I drove us around the usual parts of Carlton County, including Jay Cooke State Park, while Ms Hermes kept careful watch through her binoculars and Ms Ball kept a running tally of bird species and numbers. We saw lots of chickadees, of course, and redpolls. I spotted a robin, the only one of the day.
|One set of exposed mouse trails.|
|And another set of trails.|
Often, as we drove and walked, we'd stop for a bit and just look and listen. Sometimes, Hermes would pish for chickadees. I've come to expect this day to be a wonderfully calm and quiet exercise in looking and listening, two activities our over-scheduled, rat-race of a society doesn't value much...
|Just a portion of the spread.|
When we stopped for lunch at the Jay Cooke State Park River Inn building, however, the peace and quiet turned into a riot of food and laughter!
Once again, we brought too much food. Ms Ball made her focaccia bread. There were the obligatory garlic-stuffed olives, along with roasted pickled peppers, mozzarella, potica, and various kinds of cookies from Gannucci's Italian Market. I brought some noodle salad with a spicy peanut dressing, some panettone (which I did not bake!), and a green bean dish with shitake mushrooms and a fermented black bean sauce.
|Ms Ball with green-bean walrus tusks.|
|Hermes making potica-eyes.|
The highlight of the meal, however, was something very simple and elegant. Ms Ball had brought a thermos of coffee (which she made with cinnamon) and some china cups and saucers to serve it in. She remembered to bring cream and sugar, too! Ms Hermes and I hadn't had coffee in a long time. (I probably hadn't had a cup of java in more than 20 years!) It was just what we needed on such a damp, chilly
|Such an elegant indoor picnic!|
Once again, I invited my favorite "bird nerds" to come orchid-hunting with me this spring--it didn't happen last year, but maybe this year it will...
I hope you all have a great break, filled with peace and quiet, walks in the woods, good food, and laughter. See you in 2015!