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10.07.23 | 4-8 PM
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There’s been something on my mind and I just knew it was meant for this letter. This issue is dedicated to anyone who doesn’t feel seen. Who doesn’t feel like they belong. To the person who feels like they are living life on the sidelines. This is for you. This is your message that it’s time for you to start living your authentic life exactly where you are at- whatever age this reaches you. Be it at a nursing home, a hospital bed, a stay at home parent, or the person who endlessly works. This is your message that you don’t have to wait for permission to bloom. You don’t need anyone to tell you what to do, or that you matter. You already know it’s true. The only person who needs to hear it is you-from you. The best person on this planet to tell you. Sometimes life can feel like one big test or party that you have been missing out on. And if you feel that way, chances are you haven’t been celebrating yourself for the wonder that you are. Maybe others around you aren’t the best fit for you. Maybe your inner voice is your worst critic. Believe me, I know what that feels like! But what if today- this very minute you decided to take the chatter back. To change the conversation. To realize that you are exactly who and where you need to be to live your best life. Even if it means it’s the starting ground to leave a situation or create something new. I’ve always been inspired by the saying, “You made the wake-up list. Now you decide what you’re going to do with it.” Sometimes even feeling the call to do something more can feel overwhelming. That’s just your old self doing everything possible to keep you in an outdated loop. Now is the time for adventure, for life. And don’t be fooled- adventure doesn’t always mean climbing Mt. Everest or living in another country. Sometimes the greatest adventure you can ever embark on is the one where you decide to love yourself- to give yourself everything you wish you had in your life. But don’t you see? This is the most epic and daring adventure of all. To reach into the caverns of your own mind and to reset your thinking. To keep facing your patterns with the bravery of a new, unchartered path. And you can do this at any age, in any circumstance. Sometimes starting small is all you need to get going. Try new foods. Listen to new music. Close your eyes and pick out your outfit. Change your routine. Challenge your own thinking. Wish the best for the person who hurts you the most. Especially if that person is yourself. I wanted to tell you this because you just simply forgot! You are the brave one, the worthy one. You are the special light. It’s true. All it takes is for you to remember that there’s more to it all. Especially for a person like you. So smile and laugh on purpose. Throw a party in your mind and act like the guest of honor- because you are. You are only feeling unseen because you aren’t seeing yourself! You can be 90 years old and start writing your book. You can be 15 years old and listen to old polka music. You can be a stay at home mom and forget about that social media mom life. It’s not real. You are. Your dreams are. And this… this my friend is the message you’ve been waiting for. Your invitation. They don’t see you, and right now you don’t see you. But I do. So today; begin. Don’t let your current self say you can’t do it. You can. You will. You are doing it. No matter how small the action is, it’s important. There will be no more hiding your dreams, waiting for someone to tell you it’s ok or sabotaging yourself. It’s time to start building and becoming who you’ve always wanted to be. So don’t go hiding, don’t shrink yourself back down. Not this time. You are seen. And the view from here? Spectacular. Love,
Heather Niccoli Editor-In-Chief Home&Harvest Magazine p.s. I would like to extend a grateful thank you to my husband for creating most of this magazine while my dad was in the hospital and I was struggling. And to my team of writers who continue to amaze me with talent beyond words. Even when the world feels overwhelming, they continue to show up and outdo themselves with every issue. This magazine is proof there are loving, magical people in the world. And to you reading this? I am grateful for you for being part of that magic, too.
A Palouse Prehistoric Find Recently I was researching in the Latah County Historical Society collection and came across a photo of a fossil. Labeled mastodon tooth on the back, I set off to find out more. The collection that the photo belonged to was donated by Alma Lauder Keeling. Keeling’s grandfather, William Taylor, was one of Moscow’s early homesteaders. William and Pricilla Taylor homesteaded south of Moscow in 1871, near what is now the Palouse Ice Rink close to the intersection of Highway 95 and Palouse River Drive. The house stood until 1975, when next to the Latah Nursing Home, it was demolished. Keeling spent countless hours in that house; many of which are detailed in The Un-Covered Wagon: A Glimpse of Pioneer Days in Moscow. Those memories, plus much of the family’s history is recounted in the book. Chapter twelve is dedicated to that fossil and became part of the family’s lore passed down through generations.
by Hayley Noble “Mastodon” painted by Heinrich Harder.
Keeling starts off by remembering that the fossil sat in her mother’s curio cabinet, and it wasn’t until her mother’s death that Keeling investigated further. She recalled that her father took it to the University of Idaho to find out more and came away with the knowledge that the fossil was a mastodon tooth. Wanting to verify, Keeling also sought the expertise of the University’s zoological department. With the confirmation that she did indeed have a mastodon tooth, Keeling saw other teeth just like hers in the professor’s office. The story of its discovery links back to her grandfather’s homestead. The story that Keeling’s mother relayed is that on the Taylor land, there was a mineral spring that supplied water, which settlers would come from miles around to fill their jugs. One day in 1875, William decided to dig the spring out wider to allow for more access. As he dug, his shovel hit something hard. He kept digging and to his surprise, it was not a rock, but a fossil he discovered. Since then, the fossil was kept as a souvenir from the spring and passed to Keeling’s mother, Minnie.
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You might be wondering what a mastodon is, as I was. It is in fact, a smaller type of mammoth, including tusks, and were believed to have hair, similar to wooly mammoths. Both mastodon and mammoth fossils have been excavated in Idaho and the larger Palouse region, suggesting that these ice age creatures called the region home for thousands of years. Mastodons are thought to have gone extinct ten to eleven thousand years ago, making them slightly younger than their mammoth cousins. Not long after Taylor’s find, the Coplen family in Whitman County, Washington near Hangman Creek made a similar discovery in 1876. Along part of their homestead, bogs plagued cattle, so Alonzo Coplen began probing the marsh. He hit something hard with a long pole and hooked the item, bringing forth a large vertebra out of the water. Other bones emerged, and Ben Coplen decided to drain part of the bog to see what else they could find. Ben and the four other Coplens then proceeded to dig arrowheads, human remains, and many mammoth bones out of the bog soil. The brothers wanted to share their precious finds with others and planned a tour throughout Washington to exhibit the bones. After seeing the fossils, brothers William and Thomas Donahoe followed suit to see what they could pull out of the spring on their homestead along Pine Creek near the Coplens. They too found mammoth bones in the spring water. One of the most famous mammoth excavation sites in Idaho is not too far from the Palouse. In 1994, Tolo Lake near Grangeville was drained as part of a wildlife improvement project. Workers received a surprise when they stumbled onto large fossils as they dug into the dry lake. Paleontologists determined that the group had discovered the remains of conceivably eight Columbia Mammoths and three ancient bison. The fossils were transported to the Idaho State University for further study and the lake was refilled. Washington and Idaho continue to be significant places to find pre-historic sites important to our understanding of extinct species and early human relatives. Had William Taylor kept digging, who knows what else he would have recovered. His mastodon tooth inspired his granddaughter to learn more about the pre-historic creatures that roamed the Palouse and nearly 150 years later, a photo of that same tooth spurred me to learn the story and delve into the rich pre-history of our treasured land.
Treasure Hunt To read or not to read…that is NOT the question. The real question is, screen or print? The answer, of course, is to read! I would venture to say that most people have a definite preference of how they like to read—on a screen or holding a “real book.” Why? What draws them to one or the other? Inquiring minds (well, mine, anyway) want to know. I am constantly thinking about how to get my students to love to read. I’ve read some research, which is honestly a bit sparse. I decided to go on a quest to garner others’ opinions. I had fun polling my teacher co-workers and my students, predicting I would get two very different sets of data, but surprisingly, that was not the case. From what research I have read, (and by the way, I found myself printing the articles off the Internet so I could have a paper copy to highlight and annotate!) it appears that there truly are differences. Are you reading the print or digital version of Home&Harvest right now? Isn’t it wonderful that we can utilize the benefits of both! In my Creative Writing classes, we have twenty minutes of silent reading every Wednesday. My rule is that students read a paper copy of a book or magazine—from now on referred to as a real book. My rationale is that I see young people constantly on a device during the school hours, even when moving between classes. Watch where you’re going! I want to give them a brain break from that. Technology is obviously important and a big part of our society, but, in my humble opinion, it can also be overused.
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So, what are some reasons adults, and young people alike, have for their preferences? To begin with, I was surprised when I compiled the information, thinking it would be adults preferring print and students the devices, simply due to how we were raised with or without much technology. Out of the twenty adults who were so gracious to contribute to my poll, eighty-five percent noted they preferred a real book. Out of ninety-eight youngsters, seventy-three percent preferred the same. Wow! What are some of the reasons? Let’s explore them. But first, a big thank you to all of you who participated in the survey! Many adults noted that, out of necessity, they used online reading for research or learning, citing that many textbooks today are digitized in the interest of saving money and paper (score one for digital). However, many of the same noted they print off articles so they can annotate, highlight, and better comprehend. One poll participant wrote, “I struggle to follow online more than an actual book.” Another mentioned that it was easier to “navigate a physical copy” for the purpose of going back and checking information (score one for print). A common theme for all of those polled was that reading on screens hurt their eyes or gave them headaches. Many said they were able to focus better when reading print. Research supports that comprehension is better when reading on paper. Studies also suggest that readers focus more and read slower when using printed text. I wonder if part of that has to do with how we use screen time to entertain ourselves, flipping from Facebook to YouTube, to the next thing. I mean, reading is entertaining as well, but readers don’t flip from one section of the book to another. “Turning pages is an art” is what one poll taker wrote, and I love it. The tactile experience of holding a book and physically turning pages is not to be discounted. What is it about holding a book, feeling the textured paper, hearing the gentle crack of a spine as the book is opened for the first time? What is it about the smell of either fresh new pages perfumed with the promise of what is to come, or the woody, slightly musty scent of a timeless tale conjuring up images of a secret, ancient library? Another said, “I love the feel of paper and the smell of old book spines.” Smells are powerful instigators of memory, and the smell of a book can transport us to our childhood or to a cozy reading nook, or perhaps to a grandparent’s house. Personally, there’s nothing like browsing around in my happy place, a bookstore or library. Being surrounded by books is magical. A common comment was how turning pages is somehow satisfying and brings a sense of accomplishment in how far the reader has come. A fellow educator wrote he or she preferred a real book due to: “The satisfaction of finishing the last page of a novel and closing the book.” Ferris Jabr said it so well in his article about the science of screen versus print reading: “Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled.” Being able to pass a book along to share the experience of the story is another reason for a physical copy. One lady mentioned she can “store it on a shelf and reminisce about the story everyHome&Harvest | July/August 2023
-time” she sees it. I can definitely relate to that one. I must admit, however, that I don’t share many books unless I buy the recipient an additional copy. The reason? I have some favorites I enjoy re-reading! Don’t judge that I have read my favorite six-hundred fifty-eight-page novel at least seven times. I love that this respondent thought to mention that she savors the story just from the reminder of seeing the book nestled on the shelf. Real books are helpful when a person wants to read multiple topics at a time. It helps some people organize what is being read and gives the reader options. One reader said he likes to pick up one book for a while, then switch topics to another book. It makes it easier to stay organized and recall where he’s at with physical copies of the book. For me, when trying to find my place with digital text, I get frustrated if I want to return to a passage and have trouble scrolling through to find it. I’m sure for some people, however, the opposite is true. They “bookmark” important sites electronically and have no issues finding favorite passages. A poll taker wrote, “A book is a complete package.” There’s a cover photo, a teaser of what the story is about, some reviews, and mentally it is easier to get a feel for the entire book. Researchers have said the mental boundaries provided by a physical book are likely similar to maps we create in our minds of terrain, say of city blocks, trails, and such. Students, especially, often cited that they don’t get distracted as easily when reading a real book like they do on a device. The temptation to multi-task goes away as you find yourself absorbed in the pages of a good story. There are no pop-ups, ads, or notifications. Maybe that’s why many described reading print as relaxing, peaceful, and more entertaining. Print can make the story feel more real. “Look,” said one eighth-grade boy, “I love to read actual books. It just feels so much better. “Another stated, “It just feels normal and healthier.” Real books can be read, marked with “a cool bookmark” (6th grade teacher!), set aside, and returned to without being “laggy.” I have a fun bookmark that says, “Always give one-hundred percent. Unless you’re giving blood.” Or, what about those 3D ones? What is your favorite bookmark? Books can be taken anywhere because you don’t need Wi-Fi or Internet. Some device users argue that they can haul a whole library around “without a truck.” This is true. I have been known to load up my suitcase and carry-on with a lot of reading material. I can’t let myself run out! Heaven forbid my flight gets delayed and I run out of reading material to soften the wait. I guess I’d rather haul a few books around than read on a device. Or, even better, I can buy some new books when I get to my destination. It’s a good excuse, right? Today’s youth think about things such as battery life, available charging stations, and needing Internet access when using a device. On the other hand, “you can bring a book almost anywhere, unlike a screen.” One of the best places I like to read is when I’m in our cabin in Alaska, with the pattering rain playing a symphony on the roof. No Internet is available or desired. Real books seem to make it easier to imagine what is happening
-in the story. Many noted increased concentration and retention when reading printed material. One youth wrote, “I like real books because I feel like they make it more exciting. On screen it feels different and boring.” Another mentioned a book feels “up close and personal.” A seventh-grade girl articulated it well, writing, “I just read better and get better intimacy with the book when it is not on a screen.” Looking at the proverbial other side of the coin, what do the fifteen percent of adults and twenty-seven percent of youth I polled who prefer reading electronically have to say? They like being able to download numerous books, although some mentioned the free ones may not be what they want to read, and ones they do want cost money. Text can be enlarged, and screens light up at night for easier reading. Students appreciate the text to speech feature, although one humorously complained about the annoying voice. They cite that devices are portable, easily stored, usually smaller than books, and potentially less easy to lose. Is reading just reading? How are these modes different? Studies have shown that readers’ comprehension is better when reading a physical book. Some research suggests this is due to screens draining a reader’s mental resources more than printed text. The reader may be dividing his or her focus between reading and scrolling. Screen reading encourages multi-tasking, which requires a different form of attention. The processing speeds have also been shown to be different rates. More time is spent browsing and scanning. I find the science of reading and brain research fascinating. I just finished taking a class on dyslexia and the science of reading. Young brains have that wonderful plasticity, the ability to create new connections, adapt and learn, and the screentime environment is very fast-paced. Attention spans are therefore shortened. The person performs a quick read and moves on. The brain just learned how to scurry from one thing to another, instead of being intensely focused in the moment. Have you ever been so lost in a book when you hear, from far away, an echoing voice calling your name? Oh, what? Is someone talking to me? I was so absorbed in my book that I didn’t hear you at first. I’m not totally against screen reading. I’m an author and my books are available both in print and as an e-book, for Pete’s sake. It comes down to frequency for me, I guess. As with most things in life, moderation and variety are key. Be aware of and leery of too much screen time, especially for youngsters with those malleable, developing brains. I am a proponent of the largest percentage of one’s reading to be holding a real book. Use some of those strategies from my article in the last issue of Home&Harvest that I wrote about in “Light the Reading Fire.” Put a real book into your children’s hands, devour a real book yourself, and enjoy your summer reading. I am at the Oregon coast as I finish writing this article. I had some frustrations with the presentation of it and took a break to go beachcombing. The salt-tinged wind and the booming sound of the waves upon the sand helped focus my mind. Well, that and my husband talking things out with me! Finding some really cool agates was a treasure hunt and we decided it was a metaphor for reading in both print and digital. There are treasures to be had in both! You can be reading along and suddenly something sparkles. It catches your eye. You look closer. You pick it up and savor it. You put the treasure in your pocket.
Battle by Tony Niccoli
Ah, the fond memories of the county fair. It means a little something different to anyone you ask. But everyone has at least a few things they love about fair season. For you, is it the perfect weather, when summer always agrees to press hard against those first few days of fall? When weather that seemed to need a winter coat the week before relents and lets you roll up the sleeves a little your favorite dress shirt? Or maybe the fact that earlier sunsets start to feel like a wonderful opportunity to “stay up late” at the fair without actually staying out all that late? Is it the fair food, and the laps around all the vendors before deciding on the perfect menu? The thrill of the rides? The miles of crafts all expertly lovingly displayed and expertly judged? The hope a cow will poo on your lucky bingo square? Maybe the rows and rows of animals that each tell the story of a local girl or boy that devoted a year to practicing farm-craft and then showing a perfect specimen? Or maybe the thumb of music calling you back out the central area for the next band’s performance? For me its all the above. But more than anything else – the Latah County Fair is now the place I go to gorge myself on huckleberries. I swear, aside from a hungry grizzly trying to pack on those last few pre-slumber pounds in the fall, nothing in this world can eat more huckleberries than I can! I had even come up with a great idea for a fair event. I wanted to challenge a real brown bear to a huckleberry eating contest! But it was explained to me that no only could a bear eat more than my weight in huckleberries in a single sitting, it could also save room to eat me as dessert. So we had to change plans. And that’s when Heather and I came up with a different type of Huckleberry Battle – one far safer, and more county fair appropriate. A chance for local bakers, both young and old to show off their skills, and impress us with their use of my favorite ingredient.
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As you are reading this, the days are flying by and fair is quickly approaching. For Latah County, it runs September 14th to September 17th this year. And the Huckleberry Battle is back for this 8th annual challenge – Huckleberry Cake Pops! So, let’s take a moment to reflect on the winners from last year in the battle of the cupcakes. In the youth division, the Grand Champion was Lana Lenssen with her Huckleberry Lemonade Cupcakes. They had a bright, tangy, and rich frosting with a succulent cake batter. There were lots of huckleberries through and an amazing lemon curd center. These could have been a serious contender for the win even up in the adult group – with both a fluffy, moist cake and perfect consistency icing. Heather and I both went back for more after the judging was complete. And in the adult division, the Grand Champion was Courtney Madany with her Huckleberry Basil Bliss Cupcakes. Where do we even begin? How about with presentation – these had it all! Dressed up with white chocolate huckleberry bark and candied basil leaves, they were presented in a decorated box and surrounded by little tufts of moss. Topped with candied huckleberries in the smooth and airy frosting that gave a little hint of basil, the cake below was perfectly cooked and sweet but well balanced. With every bite we found something new to amaze the senses – and we just kept changing what was our favorite part! I still dream of these cupcakes – they are the perfect example of huckleberry bliss! But the summer is drawing to it’s close, the fair is just around the corner, and my mind and belly are prepared. Its quite a labor of love to eat mountain of perfectly prepared huckleberry treats, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice to my waistline for you, Latah County. Conjure up your winning recipes for this year’s Huckleberry Battle, and know that Heather and I will be there to happily taste every last one!
Huckleberry Lemonade Cupcakes by Lana Lenssen Throughout the summer Ampersand will be featuring recipes that incorporates SUPERFOODS which are known to help:
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For the Cupcakes 6 Tbsp salted butter ¾ cup sugar 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp lemon extract ¼ cup milk ¼ cup heavy whipping cream 1 ¾ cups flour ½ tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda, 3 Tbsp lemon juice 1 ½ Tbsp lemon zest 1 cup huckleberries For the Frosting 8 oz cream cheese 8 Tbsp salted butter 1 cup powdered sugar 10 drops huckleberry extract 3 Tbsp huckleberry juice ½ cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat your oven to 375 and prepare your cupcake tin. Add the softened butter and sugar into a large bowl. Cream the two until well mixed (with a hand mixer). Then add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract, heavy whipping cream and milk. Mix. Sift 1 ¼ cups of the flour into the bowl. Then add the baking powder and baking soda. Mix in dry ingredients until well combined. In a separate bowl pour in the huckleberries and the rest of the flower, mix and toss together so the juice from the huckleberries doesn’t moisten the cupcakes too much. Fold in the huckleberries to the batter. Scoop the batter into the cupcake tin. It should make about 12. Bake for 18-20 mins. After the cupcakes have cooled, scoop out the center and fill with your lemon curd. Then top with the frosting and a straw for decoration.
Huckleberry Basil Bliss Cupcakes by Kaytlin Sams Martinez and Courtney Sams Madany For the Cupcakes 12/3 cups all-purpose flour ¼ tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 cup granulated sugar ¼ tsp kosher salt 3 egg whites, room temperature ½ cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature ½ cup whole milk, warm 1 Tbsp vanilla extract ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened On the day of serving the cupcakes, line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In one bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt together. Whisk to combine. In second bowl, whisk egg whites, sour cream, warm milk, and vanilla extract together until combined. Whisk softened butter into wet ingredients. Note - mixture will appear to have large curds (like cottage cheese). This is normal and part of the process! Add dry ingredients to wet - combine thoroughly with a whisk until smooth. Use an ice cream scoop to put batter into paper liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until middles are set. Immediately remove cupcakes from the muffin tin and set on a wire rack to cool before filling. For the Frosting 2 cups powdered sugar ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature A pinch of salt 1/8 cup heavy whipping cream 1 tsp vanilla extract 1-2 tsp huckleberry jam 1 tsp basil syrup Make your own basil syrup with ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup water, ¼ cup chopped and bruised fresh basil leaves. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat slightly and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes off the heat. Strain out the leaves and store syrup in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, mix all the ingredients on low speed until they come together. Increase speed to high and beat for 4–5 minutes until the frosting is fluffy, pausing once or twice to scrape the bowl down. The frosting will be very airy with lots of bubbles: to achieve a smooth frosting, beat it with a wooden spoon by hand for 2–3 minutes. This will push all the air bubbles out. For the Toppings Note—the toppings are up to the baker! For our rendition, we handmade candied basil leaves, candied huckleberries, and white chocolate huckleberry bark. Candied Basil Leaves and Candied Huckleberries 12 basil leaves, similar in size, washed and dried very well ½ cup huckleberries, washed and dried very well 1 egg white 2 cups super fine sugar Place some of the sugar on a plate (for basting the basil leaves and some in a Ziploc bag (for basting the huckleberries). Brush both sides of the basil leaves with egg whites and then cover in sugar, shaking off excess. Brush each huckleberry with egg whites and place in Ziploc bag of sugar, using a fork to remove the berry. Place candied items on parchment paper to air dry for at least 48 hours before using them for cupcake toppings. White Chocolate Huckleberry Bark White chocolate melting chips Huckleberry jam Torani huckleberry syrup Melt white chocolate according to package directions. Spread chocolate onto a well-greased baking sheet or dish in a thin layer. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup huckleberry jam with Torani huckleberry syrup, 1 tsp at a time until you reach a desired consistency. Scoop small dollops onto the white chocolate and swirl together with a toothpick. Allow to set in refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours before breaking the bark into pieces for cupcake topping.
Flank . to . Flame
GRATINATO by Tony Niccoli So here we are dear readers, on day four of the family camping trip – far from home in a well secluded spot, and wondering what to throw together for dinner. Maybe you are an RV camper, who brings a home-away-from-home anywhere you go. You have a full kitchen and fridge to work with, and the possibilities seem endless. Of maybe you prefer the more rustic experience of sleeping out in a tent, the ground becomes your extra firm mattress, the stars your nightlights. Either way, after days of fishing and cooking we have basically experienced days of cooking fish. So tonight, with more fish in hand, bread that is going stale, and few ingredients left in the cooler or fridge, what is an outdoor-chef to do – other then throwing yet another slice of lemon on the filets and cooking them in foil…again? Well, if you have been following our series lately, you know that I just got a Dutch Oven for my birthday last year and decided to devote an entire year to outdoor cooking with cast-iron over flame. For those grill fanatics that might not want to take it all the way to camp, you can still do any of these recipes at home over charcoal. And even if you aren’t normally under the wideopen sky tossing a flank of meat onto an open fire, you can break out that enameled cookware and pull this off in the oven free from mosquitos and sunburn. We won’t tell anyone!
The Italians have a seafood dish known as Pesce Gratinato. It just means grated, and here it refers to old, stale bread. The idea is the same as Au Gratin from French cooking. Taking a firm ingredient, grating it over the top or even under the bottom of a softer dish, and cooking it until it browns and adds both texture and flavor. So deep in the woods, with only a fire fuel our preparations, bread that is going stale (not to mention a crew tired of PB&J and out of any other meats and cheeses) and a morning spent catching more fish, we are going to bake up some amazing Pesce Gratinato and impress the whole camp with something unique and delicious! First however, a quick side note about Italian cooking, fish, and cheese. There is an old saying, that you can have something fast, cheap, or good – pick two. It’s called the “triple-constraint triangle” because in almost any imaginable scenario, you have to give up at least one of these qualities to ensure the rest. Biking has a similar adage that parts can be strong, light, or cheap. Well, in cooking, a dish can be Italian, have fish, or have cheese. Pick two! Oh, there are amazing Italian recipes with fish, and even more with cheese! But once you combine the two, it immediately stops being Italian. The mere idea of that combo goes against all their principals and sensibilities. I discovered this at dinner in Venice – the hard way. We had wondered far, far off the beaten path in search of the type of restaurant that wouldn’t have menus printed in English, and no one eating there but the locals. We found the perfect spot, and quickly fell in love with all of their seasonal recommendations. As the waiter was dropping off our main courses, he asked me if I wanted a little fresh-grated cheese. OF COURSE I DID! Here we were in Italy, and all the food was amazing, and he was standing there at the table holding a fresh block of locally made cheese, and the whole table was already salivatinig - read to dig in immediately! I think we all wanted to try a little of everything they had there - especially the wine and cheese. Just before he could turn to walk away, my dad, sitting behind a plate of delightfully aromatic fish said that he would also like some. The waiter froze.
Non Posso! “Non posso.” I cannot. The terror in his face was evident as he held the block of cheese and grater exactly half way out towards the plate. His need to be hospitable and provide for any request had run up against his inability to imagine fish and cheese on the same plate. He didn’t say no exactly, and didn’t walk away – but he also didn’t reach out and do the grating. This lasted about 20 seconds, and felt like 20 minutes. Eventually my dad decided to pass on the cheese, and the much-relieved waiter bowed and left. I only throw this in for anyone who heard we are making something just like Au Gratin and immediately pictured golden-brown, melty cheese atop their fish. By all means, you do you. Just know that if you call it Gratinato, and claim it to be Italian, you limit it to bread crumbs. Italian recipe, Fish, Cheese – pick two!
To get it started lets get the campfire stoked and producing some good, new coals. And as that is burning a fresh log down to the desired temp, we are going to grab the loaf of stale bread that everyone has been avoiding for the last day or two. Tear it up into tiny chunks, or just chop it on a cutting board if you are rolling with a full kitchen worth of tools. Leave it there on the cutting board, or drop them onto a camp plate or into a little bowl. Head back to the fire, stir up the coals, and get the bottom of the Dutch Oven sitting firmly on a medium sized bed of orange coals so it can get up to temperature. We are hoping to be around 350 degrees before the fish goes in. Back at the bread station, throw in some dried garlic and parsley. I would also suggest just bringing along a shaker of Italian seasoning instead. Mix it up well and then head back to the fire. The size of your Dutch Oven will dictate the number of fillets you can cook, and also the amount of bread needed. We want just a very thin layer, but enough to completely cover the pot. Once you have it up to temperature, go ahead a spread about ½ of the bread chunks along the bottom, using your spoon to press them firmly into the bottom. Just about anything you were able to pull out of a lake, stream, river, or shallower ocean water will be great with this recipe. But it truly shines with something like trout, bass, or rock fish. Just cut your fillets into the most natural size that still fits across the bottom of the Dutch Oven – cutting a few in half as needed to fill up all the space. Take this opportunity to hit the fish with plenty of salt and pepper. One of the best things about cooking this way is the bread soaks up some of the natural juices and sweat from the cooking, then keeps it close to the fish until it finally browns and crisps up. And even then, with the lid closed, no moisture is able to escape during the cook. The result is a wonderful, delicate, moist fillet – without the risk of burning or drying out due to overcooking. And that crusty bread makes a perfect compliment to the succulent fish. The second half of the bread chunks goes on now (and yes – if you aren’t planning to have any extra bread at camp you could always just throw in some bread crumbs instead). Spread it evenly just as you did on the bottom, trying to make sure every fillet is completely covered. Drizzle the entire thing with a healthy dose of olive oil and your work is done. Now I’m going to go ahead and strike up a compromise with you here. Butter is dairy, but it certainly isn’t cheese. And wow, does it make fish shine. So go ahead a put a few thin pads of butter across the top before you close the lid and open a beer. The cook should take just about 40 minutes for a large cast iron Dutch Oven on a good bed of coals. Try to wait at least 30-35 before you check it. Lid comes off quickly, a fork hits one piece of fish. Don’t study it or over-think it here. If it flakes perfectly and looks like something from a seafood commercial go ahead and pull the Dutch Oven off the heat. If it is still firm or looks in any way translucent, just close the lid and open another beer. Patience and a well stock cooler is after all the key to surviving the great outdoors. When cooked, lit it rest a few minutes off the heat and out of the Dutch Oven before serving. Perfect time to get your sides plated and everyone seated and saying grace. Let them know that while it might be fish again, this is something new – Pesce Gratinato! And if anyone asks why you just served something that sounds like Gratin without any cheese just let ‘em know. “Non posso!”
with peanut butter chips
KITCHEN s a r a r a q u e t INGREDIENTS Bread 1 cup milk chocolate chips 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour ½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder ¼ teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3 large eggs, room temperature 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar ½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled ¾ cup milk, room temperature 1 cup peanut butter chips Milk Chocolate Ganache ½ cup milk chocolate chips ¼ cup heavy cream STEPS Bread Preheat the oven to 325°F and spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray (or use parchment paper). In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate chips. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chips are melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. To the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the eggs and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the melted chocolate, coconut oil, and milk. Mix until smooth. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs, but no wet batter. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding the ganache. Milk Chocolate Ganache Place the chocolate chips in a heat-safe bowl. Set aside as you heat up the heavy cream. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or two before slowly stirring until all chips are melted. Allow the ganache to cool and thicken slightly before spreading it over the cooled bread. Sprinkle with Milk Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter Chips. Once spread over the loaf, let it set for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. Home&Harvest | July/August 2023
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INGREDIENTS (For the dough) 1 Tbsp active dry yeast 1 Tbsp granulated sugar 2/3 cup warm water 1/2 tsp salt 1 Tbsp oil, any kind 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (For the toppings) 1/3 cup Zesty Italian Dressing 1/3 tsp salt 1/3 tsp oregano 1/2 tsp garlic powder 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup shredded cheese (ie. mozzarella, cheddar, marble) 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes STEPS Preheat oven to 450°F. Put yeast, sugar, and warm water into a bowl. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes until mixture bubbles. Next add salt, oil, and flour 1/2 cup at a time. (This is an approximate value.) Form into a ball of dough that no longer sticks to the bowl. Transfer onto a floured surface and continue to knead for a few minutes. Next put parchment paper on a cookie sheet (not non-stick- if using non-stick then parchment paper isn’t needed) and lightly flour. Place dough onto parchment paper and using your hands, form into a round and flat pizza shape. Prepare your toppings. Then add the ingredients in the order given and evenly on top of the pizza dough- starting with the dressing and ending with the flakes. Finally, place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Home&Harvest | July/August 2023
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INGREDIENTS Vanilla Cupcakes ½ Cup Butter ½ Cup Oil 1 Cup Sugar ½ Cup Brown Sugar 4 eggs 2 Tablespoon Vanilla 3 Cups Flour 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder 1 teaspoon Salt 1 ¼ Cup Heavy Cream Raspberry Frosting ½ Cup Raspberries 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest 1 Cup Butter ¼ Cup Shortening 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
STEPS Vanilla Cupcakes Preheat oven to 350. Line your cupcake pan. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, oil and sugar. The more you cream, the better your cupcakes will be! Add eggs one at a time, mix in vanilla. Gently fold in flour mixture and cream until batter is smooth. Don’t over mix! Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cupcakes are ready. Make yourself an iced coffee and allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting! Frosting Combine raspberries, lemon juice and zest together in a saucepan. Bring this to a simmer and cook for roughly five minutes. Allow this to totally cool. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and oil until creamy and add the powdered sugar until totally smooth. Slowly incorporate the cooled raspberry gel and mix until the frosting is set. Pipe on cupcakes and top with fresh raspberries! Home&Harvest | July/August 2023
R AQ U E T
INGREDIENTS Angel Food Cake 1 1/4 cups egg whites (about 9 large) 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided 1 cup cake flour 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup + ¾ cup powdered sugar divided 8 oz light cream cheese room temperature 1 1/2 cups heavy cream 35% 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries diced 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
STEPS Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line the bottom of a 10x15x1″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (make sure that it lays flat on the bottom). Do not grease the pan. Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift 1/2 cup sugar and flour together twice; set aside. Add cream of tartar, extracts and salt to egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the edges start to crack. *NOTE: It will rise up in the pan significantly, even over the top. But even though it gets high it should not overflow. Loosen cake from the edges of the pan while it’s still warm. Spread out a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle evenly with ¼ cup powdered sugar. Flip warm cake out onto the towel, peel off the parchment paper and immediately roll up starting at the short end, WITH the towel inside. Let cool completely at room temperature for 1-2 hours. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add ¾ cup powdered sugar, vanilla and cream and beat on low until combined, then on high for 3-4 minutes until fluffy and stiff peaks form. Unroll cooled cake (you can just leave it laying on the towel) and spread with half of the filling and top with half of the berries. Carefully roll back up (this time without the towel!) and place on a serving plate. Spread top and sides with remaining filling and top with remaining berries. Serve immediately (leftovers are best eaten within 24 hours). Home&Harvest | July/August 2023
S C O N E S + D R I Z Z L E
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A delicious and warm and sweet and tart and perfect breakfast or coffee break snack. If you are a lover of scones then please try it for yourself!
INGREDIENTS (For the dough) 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to flour surface 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter 1 cup fresh rhubarb, sliced 1/2 cup heavy cream 1 large egg 1 zest of lemon 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract Glaze, optional STEPS Put flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. Mix well. Cut in butter and whisk until mixture becomes crumbly. Place in freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Slice rhubarb into small chunks and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the cream, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Remove mixture from freezer. Make a well in the centre and fold in rhubarb followed by wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Note: it will be slightly sticky. If too sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place dough onto lightly floured surface and form into an 9” circle. Cut into a pizza shape with 12 wedges. Place wedges evenly spaced apart on baking sheet. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Place in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove. Make and drizzle the icing sugar over top of the scones if desired. Otherwise, serve while warm! Home&Harvest | July/August 2023
Dear Joan by Diane Conroy
After Bob and Jim were born to Henry and Marguerite Lorang, on the Ranch here in Genesee; Joan was the first girl in this family. She was born in 1924. In a 1934 autograph book, most likely a present for her 10th birthday; her Aunt Alice wrote to her: “April 3, 1934 My dear Joan, Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever; Do noble things, not dream them, all day long; and so make life, details, and that last forever one grand, sweet song.”
A very sweet farm home life eventually became difficult for Joan when at age 18, she had to suddenly learn how to be a mother to seven younger siblings. John was 16, Pat-15, Dan-12, Lois-11, Mae-9, Albert-8 and Rita-5. Mom, Marguerite Lorang, was struggling through Post Partum Depression and had experienced a 4 month breakdown. Joan at 18 years old, took over. She also had to complete her senior year in high school to graduate from Genesee High. Joan filled in with cooking and caring for the children and did very well. Eventually John and Pat were able to be more help. Joan’s older brothers, Bob and Jim, had already left home and were soon serving in WWII. Bob was an aviation cadet in the Army Air Corps. Jim Lorang was serving in the Pacific as a Radio Technician on the U.S.S. Saginaw Bay. Joan was asked to help in the fields in the summers since the boys were in the service. Her father Henry felt bad about this, so he bought his daughter a piano to make up for her hard work. The piano is still here. Genesee, Idaho May 31, 1942 Dear Mother, I’ve been trying to get around to write to you and now finally have found time. You’ve been worrying about Lois’s coat I suppose? Well, I finished it up Holy Saturday for her to wear on Easter. We had our Senior play and it went over swell, but I was awfully scared. I was going to sing a solo too but I didn’t have time to practice it. The Music Festival turned out O.K., but they kept us so busy with practice and rehearsals we hardly had time to eat, in fact we didn’t have a bite that Saturday until 3 O’clock because we didn’t have a chance to get down town to get anything. We were up at school practicing from 7.00 until 12.20 and then we had to march in the parade, so we really didn’t have so much fun, only the enjoyment of practicing. I almost forgot to tell you, but I got my formal made by Patty Larson and its real cute. I’ve got it cut off already and am wearing it for a wash dress. I also got some jersey and made that red & black skirt into a dress, and I’ve gotten more compliments on it than anything else I have. It also is made by that pattern by which you made that green wash dress.
I kalsomined John’s and our room last Friday, and am going to paint and kalsomine Lois’ this week. Pat and I also washed all the woodwork and windows up stairs and are going to start to wash wood work and more windows downstairs. This week I think I fixed over some curtains for Jims’ and Lois’ room out of some that were around here and I also painted our dresser and got some blue knobs for it which matches the kalsomine in our room……….. Well, I think I had better quit for the time being because its 11:00 P.M. and I’m getting kinda sleepy and I promised Pat I was going to get her up early so I had better get to bed. Your daughter, Joan During the war, WWII, people on the homefront were always encouraged to write letters to the soldiers. It was so important for their morale during those hard times. Joan Lorang took this very seriously. She wrote to her brother Jim at sea and well, somehow it turned out that Jim had a photo of his beautiful sister Joan and passed it around to his buddies. This was probably not the way Joan had planned it, but these letters began. Joan had graduated from Genesee High School in 1942. In the fall of 1942, she was just entering the U of Idaho, but Joan wrote back and forth with about 6 or 7 of the soldiers her brother Jim served with. Most of the lonely soldier boys fell in love with her, from a distance, though a couple were local boys and had known her from their hometown of Genesee or nearby. One of her first letters of Christmas of 1943 shows how welcome these letters were. “Somewhere in the Aleutians Area Dec. 26, 1943 Dearest Joan: I received your most welcome letter a few days ago and was so glad to hear from you again. I had begun to think you had forgotten me. Joan, I think you write a very interesting letter and nice long ones, too, just the kind I like to get. Your brother must be a pretty swell guy to give you half of his pay check. I hope I can meet him some time. I believe he thinks quite a lot of his sister, too, or he wouldn’t do that and I know he has reason enough to think a lot of her, Joan, I really believe I could think an awfull lot of you myself. I have been looking for your letter for several weeks and wondering why you didn’t write. I haven’t heard from home for more than three weeks so, I don’t know just what my folks are doing; how they all are. There hasn’t been much mail coming in the last few weeks but, we should be getting a lot of it in a few days. We had the whole day off yesterday and, also today. We had a swell Xmas dinner, then last night we had a party in our mess hall and we all sang songs, Christmas Carols and others. I didn’t get home for Christmas as I expected but, as long as I will be getting back there in a month or two it won’t be so bad. Please write as often as you can. I love to get your nice letters. Goodnite + lots of love, Glen (Frazier) Another soldier writes... Oct. 11, 1943 Dear Joanne. Well if this letter ever reaches you I’ll bet you $10:00 you thought you would never hear from me. But I shall tell you how it was. I was looking through my date books and I happened to see Joanne La Rang staring me in the face – well I said to myself, I went swimming with her and had a very enjoyable time. so I will drop her a line and tell her what a good time I had swimming with her. So that’s it. It’s been 3 year and 4 months precisely. Well since then…I went to-
-Marine Corps and stationed here at Cherry Point. ...and am now waiting to take Flight Training. …Here on a furlough, had 15 day furlough had 3 days at home. I’ve traveled about 18 thousand miles since I left home. Well I’m going to the show here on the base tonite, so I had better sign off for the time being and please write me and tell me what you have done since I last saw you, are you married yet? Have you anyone in line. Write and tell me all the news, Joanne. A good “Pal” Mark (Euscher)”
summer se ll in g season !
Another soldier just before D-Day: “May 14, 1944 Dear Joan, I am on charge of quarters tonight. It isn’t my turn but I am doing it for a friend who went home to see his mother this weekend. You probably don’t know it but we probably won’t be here for very much longer. We are all packed and ready to board anything they want us to. We are having one of those rare days tonight, it is trying to rain which doesn’t happen very much around here. But it feels good though. In a couple of weeks I will have a year in this man’s army. It sure doesn’t seem like I have been in that long. How are you making out with nursing training? I bet it keeps you pretty busy.
128 E T
hird St Moscow , ID
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Did you ever get that picture I sent you? I hope so. I wish you would send me a snapshot of you so I could take it with me. I don’t think we will be leaving here for a couple of weeks at least. So maybe you could send me one before I leave. Otherwise it might travel around before it would catch up with me. I know this isn’t much of a letter but it is hard to write a letter when you do the same thing, almost, day in and day out. As Ever, Ernie (Chandler)” Sept. 26, 1944 France Dear Joan, Well how do you like the university by now. What are you taking up! Say how about you sending me that snapshot of you that you promise me before I left the states or don’t you remember that little deal. We are camped up on top of a hill and it sure is cold. Just saw a nice little air circus. It sure was pretty, but I sure hate to have to be on the receiving end of the thing. We haven’t been doing much. Moving around quite abit. Our last position was really nice. We were camped in an orchard and had all the fresh fruit & vegetables we wanted. It sure was nice to have something fresh to eat for a change. So your brother has to go next month. I sure hope he don’t have to come over in this theater or go to the South Pacific. Our section have our quarters in an old pill box and we really have it nice. No rain or cold wind to fuss with. The supply sargent just came to spend the night with us. Guess it is too cold (or should I say hot) for him. I don’t know what the air circus was playing with but they sure left a pretty fine ---- . Looks like I am running out of space so guess I had better close. Write soon, Love, Ernie A letter about VE Day, Victory in Europe: V-E Day May 8 ‘45 Dear Joan, This is it! The War in Europe is finally over.
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(smudged) ……..it is one…….its……….a person can… We celebrated the day on the base, by a lot of cheering and fine beer. I drank my share because I had a terrible headache and didn’t feel to hot. We celebrated yesterday a day earlier than V-Day…….. Jerry (Druffel) “May 25. ’45 Dear Joan, Am waiting to go to the show on the base so will write you a letter in the meantime. Everything around here is a mad whirl of activity. From all inclinations so far, I am coming back to the U.S. soon. I am hoping that this is true. If I don’t I will have to stay over here for the army of occupation. If I do come back I will, in all probability, be sent to the pacific after I have a furlough. Would like to get home again, but sure hate to think of going to the Pacific as that would be rough. About all I am doing is waiting to see what they are going to do with me. I haven’t been on pass since I last wrote you. and probably won’t get out till we leave here. (If I do?) Our mail isn’t censored anymore so it is a little easier to write. I don’t have to worry about what the censor will think of my letter. Will close for this time, and keep your fingers crossed and say a short prayer and I may be back in the good old U.S.A. before long. I’m not setting my hopes too high as I’ve found there are a lot of disappointments in the army. Write soon. All my love Jerry”
This is it! The War in Europe is finally over.
V-J Day, Aug. 1945 “Tuesday Aug.14 Nite Dear Joan, Tonite is really a wonderful nite, a day that the world has long been waiting. We have just received the news that the war is over. I suppose that you are very happy at the same time. I have been here at South Dakota since last Sunday. This is really a place of wild confusion, there are thousands of overseas men here waiting for transfer to different bases in the U.S. They check your records here and a lot of other red tape. Really a mixup. I am supposed to be moved out of here in a week or two. Thanking God that the war is over. I am about positive that I won’t go overseas again. But getting out of the army is a much different problem. It looks like many months of waiting to me. Unless something changes pretty soon. I suppose you are busily engaged in harvesting now. Sure wish I was putting in the harvest my self now instead of lying around here and waiting. I hope your dad is feeling well and that all the work is not getting you down. Good nite. Love Jerry” Jerry Druffel made it home, married Carol Schlee in 1947; he had 4 children and a long life. Joan Lorang became a nurse and met a man named Stan Sturgill and married Stan in 1946. Joan and Stan had two children. If you would like to read any more of these hundreds of early letters and journals we have found here at the Ranch, just check the website at www.WhiteSpringRanch.org and look up Letters, Journals or many other interesting stories in Photos as we continue to add to this online library.
Plunk… plunk… plunk. Plunk, plunk, GONG…. A hit! I upended the entire baseball cap full of marble-sized apples and they fell away toward the lower rungs of my fourteen-foot aluminum ladder. Plunk, plunk, gong, gong, gong… plunk! Feeling small, I perched on the top rung of the sticky orchard ladder, careful not to shift my weight. I was swallowed up, deep in the jungled growth of a single apple tree, lost in an endless sea of mature red and yellow delicious apple branches and canopy. They were tall, mature, and neatly-rowed to infinity in the vast orchard where I was thinning and being paid by the hour. It seemed an impossible task to finish through the eyes of a twelveyear-old. I might be done by the time I was twenty-one! I knew I could idle away some time working for my dad, but was now working hard developing a good system to mask my moments of daydreaming with a new boss. Knowing that the kindly high school teacher and summer-time orchardist, like my own father, would be patrolling the orchard. He would be surveying for signs of activity or idleness as evidenced by apples consistently falling and making the tell-tale plunks and gongs as apples streamed from unseen workers perched high in trees. There was a musty smell of Malathion in the air as the apples tumbled downward hour after hour, gonging as the hard immature fruit bounced off the thin aluminum rungs, ringing emphatically. This sound was the reason I awarded higher value to these “hits”. I gave little thought to the “why” of my work as the hours moved slowly by but with each one, four more dollars in my pocket! I suppose I was as motivated as the average pre-teen in my work, but often have thought I was a bad investment for our neighbor, Mr. Buchannan, who hired me for my first “real job” not working for my dad. Apple thinning season was in the early spring months in the Apple Capital of the World—the Wenatchee Valley, and did not coincide with my duties working our cherry operation which ramped up in June. Well, with the exception of my commitment mowing and changing sprinklers twice daily, weekly adding twelve more dollars to my pocket. Many of my friends were also immersed in the world of agriculture and were likewise pining away their hours on ladders in apple, peach, or apricot orchards doing their part on small family farms. Growing quality fruit comes down to one thing—work. In doing it, you have a lot of time to think. Later in college with deadlines looming, I would long for just an afternoon on a tractor or performing a sweaty menial task. Hours on a ladder pruning, thinning, or harvesting allow moments for the mind to be unconstrained, independently creative. If my pre-teen work ethic was not efficiently productive in thinning out excess apples, it did give me time to think. My hands could still move quickly from one crowded apple cluster to the next, popping off the dime to quarter-sized green fruit so those that remained could grow fat and juicy. Thinning peaches, pears, and apricots was much the same, but stickier and just as “boring.” It is appreciated now that time spend being “bored” is good for kids to develop creativity, flexibility, resiliency, problem solving and planning strategies. Who knew? An active youth’s constantly racing mind activated during menial tasks like driving tractor or dragging aluminum irrigation pipes launches them to a place to ponder bigger questions of the universe. The mind’s ability to create independently needs empty spaces to explore emotion, discern fact from fiction, dream up plans of greatness, or explore concepts you might fear to speak aloud. To ask questions… questions like is eight times too many to go see Star Wars? Deep things like that, all to a serenade of Boston and The Eagles hits droning from my small transistor radio twirling from a nearby branch. I got back-
Live your best life:
by Trent Morgan
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-to work. If I did not move the ladder soon, Mr. B might catch on to my work pace slow-down. For all of us, much has changed since our youthful days working our first simple jobs. But for me, in the now, just as then, I prune and thin in my hobby orchard which is situated in the Lewiston Orchards where the work and daydreaming continues. Perhaps now a bit deeper philosophically than a pre-teen, but reflections reignited nonetheless as I climb my fourteen-foot aluminum ladder more slowly and carefully than before. I think often of the urgencies and complexities life brings us in our post-modern world; college, marriage, fatherhood or motherhood, career, death, new life… and more. In the canopy of my own trees now, the amazing likeness that life and this intimately physical work of orcharding carries in parallel with human living is amazing. The simplicity of tending trees and vines the old way, with the implications to future harvests are simple but profound. Metaphors speak deeply to me on well-being, both physical and mental. Perhaps one reason I love horticulture with its works and trials is the aptitudes it teaches and reminds me if I listen. Natural cycles and systems have deep lessons. Biomimicry is the science of technological creations inspired by nature. Velcro, pet grooming brushes, wind turbines and even complex underground railway systems engineered by bacterial growth in a petri dish are just a few examples. We use nature to create useful implements and systems, why not take hold of its power to transform our living? Their exploration may also motivate us in getting the chores done that we all have around the house and garden. Because it is definitely time to prune and thin those vines and trees you have been meaning to get to, in this edition of Home&Harvest, we will explore our own form of biomimicry in life and in the apple tree. Doing so will offer a few tips in a general sense. As usual, these are simply my thoughts and you should always consult YouTube for final answers. KIDDING! Your local County Extension Office might be a better place to start with real plant problems in need of diagnosis and a pastor or certified therapist might be a good investment in headier psychological struggles. So, don your gloves and wide-brimmed hat in preparation to thin and prune. Perhaps the ideal moments for these tasks have slipped past in the rush of time, but it is never too late to take healthy steps toward an open mind and a bountiful future harvest. Thinning is a term used in agriculture to mean the removal of some fruits to make room for and enhance growth in others. From the first spring blooming or budding, fruit and vegetables need space, sunlight, airflow, and nutrients to pollinate, grow, and thrive. There is competition for all of these elements. Nature is imprinted to not only survive but propagate in abundance, often in over-abundance. Why don’t systems create just what they can support? Why do nature and our lives offer so many opportunities anyway? How do I choose? Herein lies our first powerful metaphor; natural processes are apt to create more than a system can support to compensate for environmental losses, or for things that don’t work out in the end. But, if conditions are favorable this may lead to other problems as a vine or branch or root system strains and cracks under the load. Tastes become bland, texture stodgy. If we notice such signs, we realize it is time to thin! To grow the best, biggest, tastiest, and disease-resistant fruit, we must discriminate against other fruit. Taking into account tree branch size and anticipating fruit size and weight, thinning is plucking, twisting, or snaping off much of the young fruit in an immature cluster early enough to let-
-what is left have space to grow. But what to take and what to leave? I am transported back to my youth. Mr. B explained to me that I should visualize the tree, branch, and fruit in the autumn when it is harvest time and what the mature ripe fruit on that same branch should look like. No apples should be touching and no small branches should be bent too low or too greatly strained by the mature fruit. This may be antithetical to what you might think; to eliminate or discriminate against one thing to better grow another, but when you visualize it—a healthy tree laden with fruit at harvest time, it is easier to see and do. Then abates the resistance or fear of taking on the task of thinning that we may be as aggressive as we must. I am often not great at this in life. “We need soccer coaches.” I’m in! “You would be a great board member.” Sounds good. “There is no one to take the troop camping next weekend.” I’ll make it happen. You get the idea. You can opt out of thinning of course, have a tree with lots of tiny apples or peaches and deal with the problems this might create such as snapped branches, bland-tasting fruit, or lots of pests. A very dear friend of mine and mentor in nursing once noticed that I and my family “had a lot of irons in the fire.” She realized that I can be a yes person, so she looked me in the eye one day and said, “You need to learn that ‘no is a complete sentence.’” Unfortunately, it took me some years to understand and start to apply what she meant as I still struggled as a yes-man. I have to remind myself that I don’t need to feel guilt in turning something down in life or work or relationships and I don’t need to explain it to anyone. No is not negative. It just is simply thinning. It is a complete answer. Thank you, Lorraine!
You need to learn that no is a complete sentence. Pruning is like thinning but on a grander, more permanent scale. All perennials and annuals benefit from a good, welltimed pruning. Pruning is more strategic over the long term but allows an ornamental tree’s appearance be what you want, a shade tree to give the sun relief you desire, and of course a fruit tree to have a supportive fruit growth structure, allow good airflow and not get taller than your ladder. Peach and nectarine trees produce fruit only on stems that grew during the last season so pruning those varieties incorrectly can be bad. Pruning is strategic. On the other side, not pruning them enough to allow air flow lets mildew and leaf curl get a foothold, something for which these trees are susceptible. Pruning techniques are tree specific. Timing of pruning can be important. Pruning is often done in dormancy but can be accomplished earlier to allow actively-growing plants to begin the healing process before winter arrives. Pruning is wounding for a cause! Tools for pruning should always be kept clean and sharp to minimize trauma and the spread of disease. Techniques vary, but it is important to prune correctly to not injure the tree. For example, heavy branches you should undercut slightly first then saw down to the undercut, preventing the weight of the severed branch from breaking and stripping bark down the trunk. It is important not to cut through the branch collar, the enlarged area where a branch emerges from the larger structure of the tree. The collar is where the healing-over process will come. EliminatingHome&Harvest | July/August 2023
-growth from something living should be carefully done to allow for quick healing and to prevent pathology from sneaking in. Before taking on a pruning project consult a reliable source, preferably a university or professional resource to guide you. Similarly, you should do so in life; an experienced friend, a spouse, a parent. It is important also in life to prune with wisdom. Ending or changing of relationships may be helped by applying the concepts of strategy, timing, and sanitation learned in tree pruning. What about pruning grapes? There is a reason why grapevines, fruit, and wine-making are referenced hundreds of times in perhaps the largest and oldest book of life-metaphors in history: the Bible. I have cared for many types of trees, vines, and shrubs in my years and none compare to how much pruning grapevines need; they demand tending literally almost weekly when they jump to life in the spring! (Life metaphor alert). What I have learned, though only a hobby Viti cultist, is that grapes love to grow and to produce fruit. It is easy to get greedy and try to have them mature more clusters than a vine can support; bad idea. Put plainly, unattended grapes just go nuts even when pruned correctly before buds break, a term for the first spring growth. I prune grapes heavily at first as new shoots emerge. I don’t even use sheers but simply snap off the new growth that is too dense, headed the wrong direction for the trellis, or sprouting in the wrong place. Pruning is less traumatic when done early, allowing the few vines that are chosen to do their thing with health and vigor. Kind of like, well, us. If we don’t set limits, we don’t say no, the harvest suffers, prompting me to ponder how their cultivation and mine needs constant attention that I may live my best life. What new fruit budding in my middle age may still produce something of significance? Is it worth cultivating? There is a vineyard planted on Highway 95 between Lewiston and Orofino that I observed over recent years of commuting between the two cities. It is still there. When first planted, a lot of activity went into preparing trellising, planting, spacing, and pruning. I saw workers tending it often, as is necessary with new vines. By the time they were mature enough to begin fruit harvest in scale, something must have happened to the owner and now it sits, a tangled mess. I doubt you could even walk into it ten feet! The beneficiaries now are deer, birds, and bugs. I wonder what happened to the owner and the workers, seeing its neglect and wasted potential? Recently, I had to prune something major out of my life. It was something I had wanted for a long time and spent considerable time, effort, and personal resources to cultivate. It was growing like crazy with lots of possibilities. It was a good thing and still might be some day, but the schedule, surrounding culture, and some of the people just didn’t fit my life right now. It was okay to prune and choose other fruit to grow. With it cut free, I feel some loss, but less strain. Other fruit will grow bigger. Better. If this is meant for me, it will grow back in time and in a space that is healthier and more productive. Pruning it was the right thing to do. As you venture out in the cool of our warm summer mornings and bend a knee to weed your garden or flower bed, as you stretch high to thin or prune, let your mind search deeply to what is your future best life. Dream about what fruit you want to grow, allow pruning of vines undesired, and thin out that which has not turned out to be what you had hoped. Create space for new growth and for the breezes of creativity to breathe new life into what is to come.
A Reading F or You by Annie Gebel Let’s take a look at The Fool! In tarot there are four minor arcana suits and one of major arcana cards. The major arcana follow the cycle of The Fool, your carefree guide for the journey. Often the card is labeled with a zero or double zero and is kind of the pre-starting point, an introduction to the personality that it takes to start something new. Here you see six different renderings of The Fool, sometimes even with a different name to fit the theme of that particular deck. Let’s look and see how they’re different…and which one speaks to you!
0 The Fool from True Heart Ituitive Tarot Description: A larger than life yet mostly see through female character, who holds a daffodil and a bag of wanted items, walks toward the edge of a cliff while her dog barks. It’s a lovely sunny day and this young girl is simply strolling along, not only enjoying the day but being part of it. She’s distracted by the flower in her hand and will soon step off the edge. Will she float or fall? Or maybe simply keep on walking right through the air! Is the dog barking a warning or encouragement?
One of the things I like about this version of The Fool is that stepping into whatever’s coming next happens by accident. I think that’s true in life more often than we’d like to admit. We just find ourselves having to figure it out. We might have a bag of items but perhaps the thing we’ll actually use most is the stick that’s carrying it. Maybe we’ll drop everything as we fall to protect our doggy sidekick who will look at us sideways when we ask why they didn’t warn us about the cliff! Whatever the case, something is about to alter our path and we might not even notice it until we’ve already stepped out into the new direction.
0 The Wanderer from WildWood Tarot Description: A genderless character looks ready to step out onto a rainbow bridge that spans a cloudy crevasse between whatever they’re leaving behind and the rich and primal forest of The Wild Wood on the other side. There are a few wonderful things about this card. First, the character is given the name of Wanderer, which makes me think of the saying, “Not all those who wander are lost,” by J. R. R. Tolkien. In this case, The Wanderer is stepping, quite intentionally, onto a path that they only see the outline of. That’s another great thing about this version of the Fool. So often we believe in our path, or feel a direction is right for us, even as the people around us think we’re fools for even considering it. The Wanderer shrugs and goes forth anyway because it doesn’t matter what others are thinking or saying. These ‘others’ don’t have to follow - it’s not their path! That beautiful, naive, confidence is refreshing and the invitation of this card is for you to embody it.
00. The FOOL from The Muse Tarot
Description: A woman floats above the sand as she moves toward a burst of light that shines in a river of the cosmos that winds through the desert. This card is a bit more elusive than the others, which is why it might appeal to some of you. The woman is leaping freely into this river of infinite possibility! She could just have easily climbed down the ladder too, but have you ever entered a cold pool? The best way to get over that shock is to jump in. Maybe that’s her thought here. Maybe she’s so eager to see what could be that she jumps! Maybe she’s simply afraid that she’ll change her mind three rungs down and she knows she’s just gotta go for it! Whatever her reasoning, she’s bravely, if not a little foolishly, jumping in with the hopes of something incredible coming into her future. Are you ready to do the same?
0 The fool from Star Spinner Tarot Description: A jester sits, hugging their knees, gazing at a flower and holding a small bag of belongings on a stick.
This fool focuses on the innocence of the jester who makes moves on a whim and sometimes gets distracted by beauty or the lovely fragrance of a flower. Just as easily as he or she sat down to enjoy the flower, they’ll jump up and be on their way again soon. On the way to what, exactly? That is the question and only taking part on the journey will truly reveal the answer. Here your invitation is to live in the present moment and allow your path to unfold as you walk it.
0 the Fool From The Light Seer's Tarot Description: A woman stands on a cliff, ready to fall backwards into the water below, which might be a portal of some kind with the flower of life geometry energetically placed on it. One of the biggest differences for me with this version of the Fool versus the more traditional ones, is that she isn’t stepping off the cliff, but falling backward. It’s a trust fall. She lets go of all expectations except for the belief that what comes for her will be meant for her. In that way, the portal of the water will bring her someplace new, even if it’s just to the surface at the shore. She will be changed and step out onto another journey. Are you prepared to release what you want and know and believe and just see what happens? There’s no time like now to let go! May your path be ready for you and you be open to the journey ahead.
by annie gebel A short while ago I was in a yoga class at a retreat that was meant to help us integrate the shifts and a-has that had occurred during the sessions we’d attended into our bodies before heading back to our normal, daily lives. While we were in a position that caused many of us to moan and groan, the yogi said, “Let’s just hold this for another moment. (pregnant pause) Did you know that a moment is the only word for an amount of time that doesn’t have an amount of time associated with it? A moment could be seconds or years, couldn’t it?” And that’s practically all I’ve thought about since. When my oldest turned 20 a few months ago, no longer a teenager and fully on his own, I reminisced back through the years…all the way back to the moment when I birthed him, and many times since. The moments we grew up together, him figuring out life and me figuring out motherhood. The moments I looked at him with tears in my eyes or falling down my face to give him a message about something hard or awful or at least unwanted. The moments when everything else blurred and his smile lit up a room. So many moments in a few short decades. And speaking of decades...ten years. A decade is a defined amount of time. I was married for two decades, more actually - at least on paper, but the two decade mark of my marriage contained so many surreal moments that I couldn’t have made up or imagined on my own. Moments that cut deep, took my breath away, confused me, hurt me. So many moments that baffled me completely. In that year, the moments scared me. In a lot of ways they scarred me. There were moments that literally brought me to my knees, sobbing, breaking and, after another moment, I’d breathe again, stand back up, and look for more answers to the many questions that come when someone has strokes, especially when you don’t know for a long time that that’s what’s happening.
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And I thought I’d found some, when another moment came, which I’ll get to in a minute. We were a Navy family for almost 24 years. When we’d ask mentors about when to retire or get out of the military life, the answer was always the same. “When you know, you know.” When I was in these moments of exhaustion and emotional pain with my marriage and turning to friends and family and social workers and doctors and receiving so many heartfelt platitudes of, “That must be so hard - let me know if I can do anything to help,” there was one response that stood out to me, maybe because it had a familiar ring and maybe because it opened up space for all the moments I was screaming, crying, yelling, sobbing, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!” One friend said, “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything. When it’s time for a change you’ll know what to do.” And I did. The moment came when I knew, without hesitation, that I had to leave. We had gotten some answers about what was happening, the directions things could go, and the options open to us to receive help. Yet we had even more questions and the help wasn’t very helpful. The bottom line, though, was that no amount of help would take away the scars and no answers could clean the slate from the pains that had been rendered. The moment came and I knew I had to leave. It was a moment that both seemed to be slow motion and happening so fast. And, as I’ve thought about the yoga instructor’s words and all the moments that have made up my life as a mother, a wife, and now more than ever, the moments that make me without any labels, I think perhaps that those are the qualities that define a moment. Perhaps moments, while lacking a specific amount of time the way that a decade is ten years or a minute is 60 seconds, are more about the poignancy and have the distinct qualities of almost taking place out of time itself. Maybe moments are both instantaneous and stretch us. Maybe moments are like benches on a long hiking trail, markers of progress, signaling a change in elevation, or a place to take a deep breath before continuing on. Sometimes I march right by those benches, focused on a goal. Sometimes I sit down, wonder if my heart will ever slow down, and watch others stroll on by. This reminds me of a little side story - a moment early in our marriage (like two weeks in) where we took a hike on a sandy spit to see a lighthouse. It was lovely - and so hard, walking on sand is tough. On the way back, sore and tired, I sat on a piece of beach wood and said, “I can’t. I’m just going to stay here.” My new husband, so in love, said, “Okay, I’m going to keep going, though, because the tide’s coming in.” In that moment, I laughed, I groaned, and I got up and kept going. And even this little side story has an element of foreshadowing to a time in my life where I knew I had to keep going or be swept away with the currents.
Home&Harvest | July/August 2023
Like so many other moments, I kept going. The moment I held my infant in my arms in the middle of the night while my husband was gone with the Navy and I didn’t know what to do - I kept going. The moment I thought I knew what to do, had made mental decisions and was going to adjust to being the caregiver and spouse to a 40-something stroke survivor only to come home to witness another, larger stroke happening, followed by months of holding my breath and watching the tide come in and wondering if I was going to get up or let it cover me - I got up and kept going. I remember so many unpleasant moments that hold incredible potency in defining who I am today. Yet there are the others - the moments that make me laugh or smile or hope, like the walk on the beach. There was the moment I was in a hospital bed laboring with my second child and the bed started folding up on me and I was yelling at whomever was controlling it to stop and my husband gently told me it was me with my hand gripped around the buttons during a contraction! There’s the moment when I watched my youngest work out his strategy for transitioning from a homeschool to public school life, complete with nerves and confidence combined. There’s the moment I saw a genuine smile on my daughter’s face recently, and not the customer-service one she’s mastered, and sent up a thank you for her friends that bring her joy. And there are moments that contain a mix of emotions. When that bundle of “it’s a boy!” was placed into my arms for the first time and I felt all the things and didn’t care that I was completely naked in a room full of mostly strangers. There’s the moment of deciding to retire from the Navy, because they were all right and we just knew it was time, but our entire adult lives had been directed by the military and what would things be like now and the giddiness of dreaming about what things could be like now. And there’s the moment when I recognized that our marital goal of wanting the best for the other meant no longer being married, which admittedly was tinged with a whole lot of stern words at myself that would have definitely sent me to the principal’s office, but was also a moment when I knew what to do, even if I didn’t know how to do it. And in the moment within the moment, in that sliver when I realized I needed to leave, but didn’t start fighting with myself over that decision yet, when I can slow down the frames enough to see just that moment there’s peace. A moment. An instant. A blink of the eye. An occasion of consequence. A flash. An eternity. While tricky to define, moments are recognizable, powerful, simple, mileposts in our lives. A moment may be truly momentous in nature or created from a simple comment in a yoga class. Either way, or any of them in between the extremes, take a moment to breathe into that moment. Inhale what you’ve learned. Maybe feel a little peace. Exhale what you no longer need. And, when you’re ready, you can get up and keep going.
A week in
by Chad Kinyon
Arriving home with a fourth-place finish at probably the most challenging match of the year with a brand-new rifle felt pretty good. If you have been following along on these adventures, you know that fourth is not good enough. I’ll have some work to do to earn that top spot because no one is just going to hand it to you. The following week, my wife Temple and I headed out into the desert of Southern Nevada to collect some data and see what needed to happen to improve the performance in the next match. Items on the agenda were to set up my radar and collect bullet speed numbers from the leftover Lexington ammunition. I had suspicions that the barrel had sped up during the match, causing my ballistic calculations to be inherently flawed. You know the old saying “garbage in, garbage out?” This saying has some grey areas, except when it’s math. If a variable (wind, temp, pressure, distance, etc.) is incorrect, the formula fails to yield the correct answer. Similarly, if the constants (speed, ballistic coefficient, weight) are wrong, you will have the same flawed solution. Hopefully, gravity, spin drift, and the rotation of the Earth are the three things you can count on to never change. If they do, we have bigger problems. After shooting a five-shot string, I had my answer. Going into the match, I had a bullet speed of 2,960 fps. Coming out the other side, I had a bullet speed of 3,002 fps. Now 42 fps doesn’t seem like much on the grand scale of things, does it? You probably wouldn’t even notice the change if a person was shooting at 100 yards. However, when you think about it as it relates to a target that is a 7-second flight time away, it turns into about a football field. That’s not to say you’ll miss by 100 yards, but rather the faster bullet will arrive in less time, and since all those constants and variables in the equation have less time to work their magic on the bullet, you will miss. After making the changes to the Applied Ballistics app on my phone, I was able to stack four consecutive shots into a light spot about the size of a dinner plate on a bluff at a mile. It took a few attempts to get onto a rock at two miles, but that was because I was using 3,520 yards as the distance. Once I looked at my range card, I realized what I had previously ranged was actually 3,591 yards. Back to that garbage in, garbage out thing. Upon arriving in Raton, I went up to the sight-in range to verify where my rifles were hitting. This went about as planned with minor adjustments to the bullet speed and the offset for the 7 saum due to the higher elevation, cooler temperature, and lower station pressure. I was finishing up before the masses showed up. A young fellow and an older gentleman, that I believe to be a veteran but unfamiliar with the AR15 platform, had just arrived. This young fellow was helping the old timer get his new AR sighted in. He was being very patient and respectful with the old fella. I’m not saying my faith in the millennial crowd is restored, but at least I feel there might be hope. I offered them the use of one of my spotting scopes to help facilitate the sight-in process. The next guys to show up were Walker Daugherty and his brother-in-law, Brandon Read, who is new to ELR competition. I met Walker last year at this same shoot. Super nice guy that has a gun-smithing business out of Prescott, AZ, and is just a ball of energy. They had just returned from hanging the steel targets on the bluffs north of the thousand-yard range for the next morning’s light gun match. I’m glad that someone is willing to dangle off those cliffs and hang the steel targets. I’m even more thankful that it’s not me. Walker’s rounds were on a stairway to heaven in that each round would go higher than the last. He indicated that it has been an ongoing issue after he cleans that rifle. It-
-appeared as if it would settle down after about 20 rounds. Brandon is shooting a brand new 33XC in a hunting configuration with what would be considered a very light barrel. The whole rifle only weighs 10-13 lbs, which is light for this game. Anyway, Brandon lays down and proceeds to put five rounds through the same hole. Not kinda the same hole but literally the same hole. If I were making odds, I’d say his chances are better than fair that he will take the light gun match with Walker spotting for him, assuming he can keep his wits about him and nothing breaks. Raton Thunder Light Gun Match Going into the light gun match, I knew I’d be significantly disadvantaged with the 7 saum. Since this is the only rifle I have that qualifies for this match by caliber and weight, yes, a plan is being hatched to remedy that situation, but that’s another story for another time. Like my buddy Stan says, “You didn’t come all this way to not shoot, did ya?” I placed about as I expected, 18th, but that’s not the story that needs telling. The story lies in Walker and Brandon. While those two yahoos didn’t take the top spot, they did place second and third, respectively, with 16 impacts each. Looking at the score sheet, Brandon even had Walker right up until Walker went 4/5 at 2,650 yards which locked him into second with roughly a 7,000-point lead over Brandon. So as you read this and think you might want to try the sport, remember that Brandon took third place in his first match with a hunting rifle just a little over a week old. I think he’s hooked like a trout on a barbed treble hook. Raton Thunder Heavy Gun Match Day one: My round started well by going 4/5 at 1,178, 4/5 at 1,387, and 4/5 at 1,802. Then came T4 at 1,990, and for whatever reason, we couldn’t see the impacts just sliding past the left edge. So I scored a big goose egg on that target. After figuring out what happened, there wasn’t any reason to question my ballistics because the 416 had been hitting like a sledge hammer on the first three targets. At the day’s end, I was sitting in 12th place, which made a run possible but difficult considering the competition. My buddy Stanley Cutsforth had about a thousand-point lead over Jay Monych for the top spot. It was shaping up to be a slugfest on day two as the distances continued to extend further out. Day two: My round, once again, went well by hitting the cold bore target, which was a 10” gong at 1,032 yards so hard that I darn near flipped the plate clean over the stand. From there, I went 3/5 at 1,990, 3/5 at 2,265, 2/5 at 2,650, and 2/5 at 2,878. I shot well enough to move up into a 5th-place finish, and in case you are wondering, yes, Stanley Cutsforth won out over Jay Monych for the top spot. But once again, the better story lies with a fellow I had just met a few days prior because he was staying in the same building—his name is Chris Schmidt. Let me back up a bit and say that we witnessed a new world record set on day one of the match by Glen Swaggart at a distance of 2,650 yards by hitting a 36” plate with his cold bore shot and then two follow-up shots. An impressive feat by any shooter’s standard. After the record was in the books, a small group was trying to figure out how to give people a record attempt on day two, but the next target out was at 2,878 yards which was a significant jump in distance and the wrong size since it was 42’x48’. A plan was hatched to go up onto the mountain and repaint the target with an orange stripe on 3 sides, leaving a 36” white-
-square in the bottom center of the target. Chris was something like the 25th shooter on the line, and up to this point, it had been hit a couple times, but no serious run had been made on it. Chris laid down his first shot and hit in the upper left corner of the white square. The call was a little late in coming, so he had already started figuring out his move to T5. Upon hearing “IMPACT,” he went right back onto the target and sent another round. As I watched on the monitor, the impact appeared slightly above and left of dead center. Once again, “IMPACT” rang out from the scorer’s table, and people literally stopped what they were doing to gather around and watch because they all knew what was at stake. Is it possible that we would whiteness a second world record in just over 24 hours? Number three slid into the chamber and was on its way in short order. “IMPACT” rang out from no less than 15 people gathered around to watch the monitor. The entire area erupted with applause and cheers. This was the third time I witnessed a world record being set. Sadly none of them were by me, but that day will come. That’s one of the things I love about this sport. People, for the most part, are happy about each other’s success. The third hit was just below center, giving Chris the new world record. I must admit I felt terrible for Glen, as he only got to have the official title for 26 hours, but that’s how the game works. We will have tomorrow off while they move targets and cameras onto another range. Yes, we stayed up way too late, and one could argue whether we consumed too many adult beverages or not enough. I guess we can leave that up to debate. The plan for Monday would be to sleep in and then hit the sporting clays range, bust some birds, and relax. Thunderstorms rolled out of the mountains most of the night and into the morning fouling our plans for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it rain so hard in my entire life. It was reported that 2.5” of rain fell in less than an hour around lunch time. We saw rivers running down nearly every little draw upon returning from town. Three to four hours later, dust was kicking up behind cars going down the road. This is a strangely wonderful place. Spring Canyon Record ELR Match Day one: We were presented with targets at 2,910 (for a record), 2,765, 2,465, and 2,560. These targets are placed up on a distant mountain’s rocky hillside. The target placement makes spotting misses extremely difficult, but it’s that way for everyone, so in the long run, it’s fair. My round started rough going 1/5 at 2,910 and 0/5 at 2,765 in the morning. I probably shouldn’t have cleaned my barrel by putting about eight or ten patches down it. As luck would have it, “Big Sexy” settled down in round two of the day, and I went 1/5 at 2465, followed by 3/5 at 2560. I think the barrel is back in her happy place, or at least I hope she is. The first day’s rounds left me sitting in 8th place, which is down further than I was hoping for, nobody to blame but the one pulling the trigger. We were done shooting and down off the mountain and back to our rooms before lunch. We had the rest of the day to play with, so what do you do when you are at one of the premier shooting facilities in the US? You grab your shotgun and head for one of the sporting clays courses. As we walked through the trees to the different stands, we visited, laughed, and made bets on the next stand. In short, we had a very nice relaxing afternoon busting and missing clay targets without even keeping score, just enjoying the day. After putting the shotguns away, we headed over to the-
-camping area where Glen Swaggart had been camping. Before leaving Kansas, he had smoked some pork shoulders and had a spread set out for anyone who wandered into his camp, regardless of whether he knew them. Everyone was welcome because that’s just the way Glen rolls. He was feeding pulled pork sandwiches, a choice of chips, and about 3 different kinds of salad with cookies, cupcakes, and brownies for dessert. A real first-rate meal from a folding lawn chair with fantastic company. Tomorrow would be our last day in Raton before heading home, so it was nice to sit and break bread with these guys. Day two: Spring Canyon started out rough in the same fashion as day one, with the first round only yielding one hit at 2,765. The second round showed promise when I hit two in a row at 3,155 yards. So as I moved onto the final target, I could feel it in my soul that this was going to be the day I put my mark on that elusive 3,700 (2.1 miles) yard target. As it turned out, my feeling was wrong. We couldn’t get anything to land where we could see it to facilitate a correction. After returning my gear to my pickup and feeling somewhat defeated, I went to the scorer’s table. Maria Powell was watching the monitor for impacts. I asked if she had been able to see anything as to where my rounds were hitting since we couldn’t see anything in the spotting scopes. According to Maria, my bullets were sliding past the target just off the right edge with good elevation on the 3,700-yard plate, and one or two clicks left would have put me on target. Still trying to decide if that information makes me feel better or worse. I managed to move up one slot into 7th place. Stan secured a 3rd-place finish, and John slid in right behind me into an 8thplace finish. After the awarding of plaques, we said our goodbyes and headed off into our separate directions home. As I prepared to pull onto I25, I faced a choice. I could turn right and head home and be there in about 11 hours or take a left, which would take me up through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and finally to Idahome in about 22 hours. Dad’s 80th birthday was on the 11th, and Father’s Day would be on Sunday, so left it is. I’ll surprise the folks and see how they are doing. I drove through the night, arriving just before 10am. The look on their faces made the drive well worth it. We will return to Raton in July to see if that 3,700-yard target will surrender a hit.
staring down a set of 3155 and 3700 yard targets
am looking for my not yet familiar desk in another new classroom, another new school. It’s the fourth grade; mid-quarter at Star Lake Elementary. As we all file back inside from recess a freckled redhaired boy approaches my desk and grabs my prized wooden pencil box (the kind with small louvers on the top that rolls open) and ignores my requests to give it back to me. Looking around, I see no empathy in the laughing faces witnessing the crime. “What are you gonna do about it?” were his only words and I took off after him like a shot. As he is looking back at me gaining on him, his direct exit through the classroom door is stopped abruptly as the teacher’s cup of hot coffee splashes in slow motion, up into the air then soaks into her once very white and freshly pressed blouse. The red-haired boy makes a loud noise as he crashes against the opened door (now also coffee spattered). Mrs. Holtzmier’s face was still red with anger as she marched me to the front of the classroom and ordered the class to be seated as she removed the paddle from her large desk drawer. After she delivered a brief explanation to the wide-eyed class about the consequences of our actions, I was told to bend over and recall wishing my pretty pleated plaid skirt had a longer hemline for the occasion. I, guilty of chasing a boy, was punished and told to apologize. There was no inquiry of the role that the freckled red-faced boy had played. My lesson for the day was that the hand of authority can hold a paddle and does not ask for facts. The reality was that labels can be indelible. Disturbs others, does not pay attention, does not participate, does not focus. The teacher had read these comments from the previous school, or in my case schools, and labeled me a troublemaker. I was a child adrift in the isolation of constantly navigating new schools, seeking the attention and approval of my peers. The result was frequently quite disruptive and led to serving my sentence in the hallway outside of more than one classroom. As public education stepped away from corporal punishment, and the learning environment improved, so did my grade reports and the story I told myself. I was able to change my identity. I discovered some things that could help me stop seeking approval from others and find it in myself a few years later at summer camp. In the outdoor setting of group hikes, volleyball, cook-outs, campfire skits and sing-a-longs everyone just mixed together and had fun. I was not the new kid. We were all new campers so I did not feel the need to compete for attention. I soon trusted the cheerful grown-ups in the relaxed recreation-focused environment, becoming very fond of them all. I loved the smell of the air outside of the city. After a rain I only wanted to take in one sweet breath after another. Nature accepted me and had no comments on how I measured up. There was a small problem however. It was a dude ranch and I was afraid of horses. The term dude ranch had me a little confused.
At that point in time the term dude had a completely different meaning than today. I thought it meant cowboy but I was unaware it accurately described me. A ‘dude’ was from the city and had no experience around horses or cowboys. I only watched Bonanza with my grandma because she liked Little Joe and Hoss. The colorful brochure showed horseback riders in a line on a forested trail winding up into the hills, a huge indoor pool, and a big room full of kids square dancing. Well, I was not sure about any of that but my mom was really excited about the idea and I was sent to camp with a suitcase full of colorful new shorts sets, new pajamas, a classic western fringed square dance skirt with matching shirt and a kiss good-bye for her little cowgirl. My loner identity attracted the attention of my counselor Jenny, who would sit on my bunk when she played her guitar. The counselors all dressed like cowhands and most of the kids were good on horseback. I did not fit in. With no long sleeve attire, I froze in the early mornings brushing the horses and had to borrow some jeans for riding, tied with a rope to keep them from falling down. My horse constantly tried to rub me off on every branch or tree and went the direction he chose, ignoring my feeble directional requests. I had been given the smallest horse they had and I sat a bit below all the other riders that bragged about their fifteen and sixteen hand horses. His name was Cricket and he was missing half an ear. The story was that he had rolled over on it when it was frozen during a cold Montana winter and it broke off. I was sorry for him but more sorry for me, being someone he did not want in his saddle. He just wanted to be mean to me and it was no secret I was afraid of him. I desperately wanted to rise above this city slicker label that even the horse had given me. It happened in the middle of a frightening slippery-slide ride straight down a steep and very muddy trail. I had to face my fear and my thighs grabbed that horse like I knew what I was doing. That horse needed a confident rider. I had to trust he was going to get both of us down that trail safely and he did. After that, we were different. He was not mean anymore, he had just sensed my lack of confidence before. Grasping how empowering my new found confidence seemed to be, it followed to not let people dictate my identity like that horse had. In my excitement I reported proudly to Jenny, “I think he likes me!” Smiling, she kindly corrected me that he was a mare. Oh. I had to accept the truth. The name cowgirl was not for me. In native cultures one’s name could reflect an animal or an action that was significant to the child’s first events of its life in the tribal community. I am curious how my great grandfather’s birth name became Patient Dove and wonder if it accurately described his nature. I hope I will find clues as I continue tracing my ancestry. Birth names in our culture sometimes reflect loving parents’ intention of sending a child into the world with a strong or graceful identity like Leo or Arabella. I was recently introduced to my young neighbor, Chashe Chemoyo. This is her first name. Her mother Rhumbi explained that in Shona, the language spoken by her people in Zimbabwe, it means “Belonging to God, born from the heart, of the heart.” As I watch little Chashe learning to stand on tiny feet and legs that do not yet know how to walk, I hold hope in my heart that she will be protected by such a wonderful name in her life so far from her ancestral heritage. We can choose to keep and cherish names given to us, or alter them to better suit us. It is common to go by a nickname and change our handle if we feel it fits. When I was a tomboy I went by Jackie, as a woman I like my full name of Jacqueline. Our identities evolve through time. Sometimes the labels given to us-
-do not but we can disregard the ones that hold no truth. There will always be slings and arrows. I believe that it is up to each individual to deflect the arrows aimed at you through your journey with a shield of self-assured confidence. Integrity is built this way. The majority of us old farts were told to pull up our big boy/girl pants and carry on. Another event that required an identity review happened in the halls of a large city high school. Passing by the art room, the art teacher I had a few classes with called to me above the crowd of students flooding the hallway, “Quite the exhibitionist. Those will get you a lot of attention.” And he turned and went back into his classroom. So embarrassing. I had been called Pee-Wee, Shorty, Runt, Prude and Blondie with little care but had never been called that. It set me into a spin. I really wanted to determine why this label had cut me so deeply. I thought about it for a long time. Was this another teacher putting a label on me? Do I trust him? If this was his perspective, what is mine? Am I telling myself a true story? Does his observation have some truth? Was I an attention seeker? I was not at all comfortable with that label. Was I just wearing shorts to be comfortable? Nope. I really didn’t feel very comfortable in them. I decided that the fashion trend had caught me as an unsuspecting consumer. I was telling myself a story that I had to be like the rest of the sheep to fit in. I already had a look that I felt much more comfortable wearing. I returned to my jeans and reserved the hotpants for days at the beach, where they seemed to be appropriate.
“Being yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson I recall some labeling after college but by then I was on the path to being a grown-up and my shield was in position. I was a skilift operator and daily rode the chair up to take my place in the tiny shack at the top of the beginner-friendly ski run. Alone in the solitude of one of nature’s unseen places before the mountain runs opened for the day, I’d watch in awe as the early morning sunlight crested the giant treetops, spreading long beams across the crystals of the previous night’s untouched blanket of snow. The main reason most of the crew worked there was the free skiing. I was the only one riding the lift down at the end of the day so I began my attempt to learn to swoosh. The instructor started by saying you have to learn to fall first. I did that really well. I was really determined but soon just determined the skis were much too slick and continued to ride the chair down each night. The second season I worked there forced a challenge. As the popularity of backcountry skiing was increasing, the growing-
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-number of nordic skiers was starting to cause some traffic problems. It was obvious some boundaries were needed to protect cross country skiers from getting knocked off the slopes like bowling pins by speeding downhill racers. I was overhearing talk in the break room about pine cone eaters, granolas and gorp gobblers. The tone of voice was a little condescending from both the lift crew and ski patrols who liked to rule the mountain at high speed. I thought about these names and realized with a shock, they were in fact talking about a person I very much fit the description of. I quietly continued chewing my granola bar and started to entertain thoughts of slow and steady flat tracking among the trees where my spirit felt connected. It was literally my nature. Perhaps I was not going to be popular with the mountain crew, but knew I wanted to try cross-country skiing. I rented a pair of mohair bottom skis and reserved an hour of lessons. I was hopeful. As even gently rising trails go up, they must come down and after each slight incline, I headed down out of control. After repeated practice of my stopping technique of both tips augered into the nearest soft bank of snow, the instructor cheerfully began referring to me as Javelin. This was quite accurate and I appreciated the lightness it lent to my humiliating situation. I never became an accomplished downhill skier and when I step onto my nordic skis I still crash into snow banks occasionally to stop. It has not kept me from enjoying the winter beauty of the natural world. I am ok with telling myself the story that I am a tree hugging, gorp gobbling Javelin. If the snowshoe fits. . . The way we identify ourselves comes from our experiences. In our lives we will witness similar things but our view of them will differ because we all have a different frame of reference. Sometimes it is difficult to feel cohesiveness within the culture. How are we united? I have now been labeled a Baby Boomer and so I had to find out if this label had any truth. Do I really have the characteristics they suggest of this generalization of people in my age group? And if I am a Boomer, who are Gen X,Y and Z? The divisions have gotten their names over time from terms coined by various authors, journalists and social science researchers interested in demographics. A report compiled by Cornell University published a summary of an opinion poll touching on every topic you can think of. Abortion, disasters, elections, economy, education, environment, guns, health, immigration, recreation, race relations, religion, role of government, seniors, terrorism, wealth and poverty, work and labor are covered to determine how each sector of the population views the impact of these topics. The findings show what percentage of each age group typically agree. The divisions then have been identified with traits commonly shared. A leading research think tank, Pew Research has announced they will not be using these generational definitions and labels moving forward. As of May 2023 their opinion is that generational categories are not scientifically defined and labels can lead to stereotypes and oversimplification. Unscientific yes, however. . . I see how these labels could help us to recognize and understand why we have such different views and help us to be more tolerant of our different beliefs. Let the data collected about the Greatest Generation (age 99 and older) and the Silent Generation (78-98) that lived through several wars remind us how they knew extreme hardships and found ways to survive them. As parents of Baby Boomers, they tried to instill their values of being resourceful and prepared. This may also shed light on why your parents always have a pantry crammed to capacity of canned goods.
Let the information collected on older Boomers (ages 59 to 77) explain why there remains a percentage of them remaining off the grid and actually listed as deceased in the absence of a cell phone number or email address because they believe the right to freedom means absence of government involvement. Ah ah ah, you are ready to slap a political label on this, aren’t you? Don’t do that. Their reasons should be valued and respected. They lived much of their lives in such a free existence; in the absence of tedious 42-page forms, invasive questions on endless applications, and impossibly complicated protocols that have appeared overnight that are now required if you want to remain in today’s society. The tenacious folks of Gen X (ages 43 to 58) have the notoriety of recovering their wealth after these households experienced the housing crash. This keeps many older Xers sticking with employers. They also represent a more accepting attitude of racial diversity. Now for being disturbed by the Gen Y or Millennials (ages 27 to 42) and their sense of entitlement, which has been blamed on Boomers wanting their kids’ lives to be easier, I will deny my participation in that parenting style and step back to watch the condition self-correct as they experience being parents themselves. That will soon cure any delusions of grandeur. I find their attraction to minimalism and traveling admirable, seen in their trend to enjoy having experiences more than accumulating things. The observation of Gen Z (ages 11 to 26) has been made about how they are somewhat lonely from the many hours they spend on their phones in place of developing in-person relationships. This is also seen in the swing away from minimalistic trends to cluttercore, coined to reflect the high volume of items ordered online to make their nest more cozy. Because the older ones entered the workforce during the altered landscape of a pandemic, it makes sense that they put great importance on the balance of work and homelife. I am only citing these traits for the purpose of conversation. It is important to check the source before you rely on the generalizations listed for the generations. The values observed of each generation differ across the internet in respect to what group has formulated the data for their own specific interests. Some of the reports are focused on how to profit from the findings, determining how to influence and persuade a targeted portion of the population. There are advertisers interested in appealing to age-specific audiences, investment companies following each group’s spending trends to be able to market financial products and employers seeking ways to attract certain types of candidates. This concerns me because some of the assigned generational labels can be deceiving and exclusionary. I do not want an employer to overlook me because they have read that all Boomers reject authority. Never let labels define you. Live your own truths and trust your own story. Show the world what your traits are and make it a truly extraordinary list; hopeful, confident, intelligent, optimistic, compassionate, generous, selfless, heroic, formidable, destined for success and magnificent! We are all very unique and retain incredibly distinct individuality. Identify yourself. I am an earth daughter. What are you? “Labels bias our perceptions, thinking, and behavior. A label or story can either separate us from, or connect us to, nature. For our health and happiness, we must critically evaluate our labels and stories by their effects.” Michael J. Cohen, author of Reconnecting With Nature: Finding Wellness Through Restoring Your Bond With The Earth.
Home&Harvest | July/August 2023
- by Temple Kinyon -
The Oh, Otis! Shenanigans - Episode 18 CBs, Soda Pop, and Barbed Wire Fence Otis sidled up next to Grandpa Ed, peering into a small area under the dash of his 1960 Chevy Apache pickup. Dubbed “Old Yeller” years ago, the pickup was actually cherry red, but in its earlier days, had been yellow, and thus the moniker. Otis incessantly teased Ed that the truck’s nickname also fit because Ed was old and did a lot of yelling. “Whatcha doin’?” Otis inquired. “Trying to put this new-fangled CB radio under the dash and not having luck,” Ed explained. “You came at just the perfect time. I can use your small hands.” Ed and Marvel had invested in CB radios for the Swam Farm to communicate with one other during haying and harvest. They’d installed “base stations” in both houses and outfitted the various farm equipment with smaller radios, but Ed still had to mount his own unit in Old Yeller. Over the next hour, Otis helped him make and install a metal bracket to hold the CB under the dash. When finished, they tested the radio by calling out to a farmer friend who always had his “ears on” listening to CB chatter. “Breaker, breaker, I’m lookin’ for Straw Chopper,” Ed said into the mic with the button pushed. “Ya out there, good buddy?” He let go of the button, and he and Otis held their breath for a response. “Roger, good buddy,” a voice crackled over the CB. “This here’s Straw Chopper. Who am I talkin’ to?” “Farmer Ed on my newly installed radio,” Ed replied. “I’ve got Otis with me.” “You fellas sound crystal clear,” the voice responded. Ed handed the mic to Otis. “Give it a try.” Otis’s eyes lit up like a candle. He grabbed the mic and harkened to one of his favorite TV shows, Dukes of Hazard, as he pressed the button to talk. “This here’s … uhh,” he froze. He didn’t have an official CB handle. He quickly blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “This here’s Little O Bro with Old Yeller.” “Little O Bro, good to hear you,” Straw Chopper chuckled. “Old Yeller is a perfect name for that old coot with you.” Ed rolled his eyes. That name would stick for sure. Straw Chopper came over the airwaves again. “I got to skedaddle. You two have a good day. Over ‘n out.” “Well, well, Otis,” Ed smiled. “We did it. The oldest and the youngest Swans are a good team. But Old Yeller? Really?” “Yeah,” Otis beamed. “Now you’ll be Old Yeller driving Old Yeller.” Again, Ed rolled his eyes. “Say, Otis, how’s about us Swan men go camping tonight?” Otis’s eyes lit up. “OK!” Ed smiled. It was a lazy Saturday, and the weather was perfect for camping. They’d finished haying, and harvest was still a few weeks out. “Zip home and bounce the idea off your dad,” Ed suggested. Otis tore off across the field that separated the two houses. He didn’t know it, but Ed had already mentioned to Marvel they should take the boys camping up the “Hollow” toward the north end of their property. Plus, Ed’s-
-oldest grandson, Otho, was in town on leave from the Air Force. All the Swan males would be back together, which was cause for celebration and a he-man weekend. *** Otis bolted through the screen door into the kitchen of his house, out of breath and full of words about the plan to camp. He ended with, “Where’s Dad?” “Oh, Otis, slow down,” Mavis scolded. “He’s in the living room watching golf.” Her exasperated expression was lost entirely on Otis as he raced out of the kitchen. Marvel was reclining in his big tan Naugahyde chair watching golf on television, which he hardly ever did, especially during the day. But since farming was at a standstill, he allowed himself a non-working afternoon. Otho was sprawled out on the brown floral couch, Cletis lounged on the striped loveseat, and Deanie and Chuck sat on the olive-green shag carpet, squaring off at a game of chess set up on the coffee table. “Guys!” Otis roared in from the kitchen. “Grandpa Ed and I think we should go camping up the Hollow!” The excited words tumbled out of his mouth and hung in the air. Neither Marvel nor Otis’s brothers moved, not even a twitch. Otho slowly shifted his gaze from the television screen to his brother. “Little O Bro,” he calmly stated in a low voice, sounding like a golf commentator. “You’re interrupting the riveting golf stylings of Jack Nicklaus smashing the Old Course in Scotland. Who can think of camping when there’s the thrill of victory hanging in the balance for ‘The Golden Bear?’” Otis looked at his brother like he’d grown a second head and was about to ask just what in the Sam Hill he was thinking comparing golf to camping when the entire room erupted in laughter. “You shoulda seen your face, Otis!” Otho jumped up and slapped his younger brother on the shoulder. “I got you good!” Marvel flipped the recliner footstool down and popped out of his chair. “Camping is an excellent idea!” He scooted into the kitchen and grabbed the black plastic microphone hooked on the side of the CB radio installed above Mavis’s desk. “Breaker, breaker, this is Superswan looking for Old Yeller, come back.” Otis looked at his dad with eyes bulging, incredulous that he already knew about Ed’s new CB handle. “What?” Marvel looked back at Otis and winked. “You think we didn’t hear your little conversation with Straw Chopper, Little O Bro? Good name for Grandpa, by the way.” “This is Old Yeller comin’ back atcha,” Ed’s voice barreled over the speaker. “I hear we’re havin’ us a camp out up the Hollow.” “That’s a big 10-4, Superswan,” Ed replied. “I’ll meet you and the baby swans in the barnyard. Over ‘n out.” “I guess that means I won’t be cooking tonight since you’re all leaving?” Mavis smiled. “Is that OK, Mama Swan?” Marvel slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her in for a hug. “It’s more than OK,” she smiled, pecked him on the cheek, and tore upstairs like a kid. “Doris! Gladys!” she shouted. “The men are going camping, so the girls are going out for burgers! I’ll call Grandma Helen! Be ready in an hour.” *** Grandpa Ed sat in his Apache, loaded down in the back with a massive tent, two cots, several sleeping bags, a tangle of fishing-
-poles, and Otis and Otho. Marvel and Chuck sat in the front seat of Marvel’s ’77 brown Chevy Silverado, equipped with Deanie and Cletis in the back and camping chairs, two coolers, a few backpacks filled with TP and personal items, and several chunks of firewood. “Are we ready?” Ed shouted out of his open window. “Let’s roll!” Marvel bellowed back. The two-vehicle caravan set off down the rudimentary dirt road that cut through the Swan farmland and ended at the furthest boundary north where a stream and small forest sat waiting for them. The dirt road was wide enough for two pickups, and after Marvel followed for about half a mile, he decided to inch next to Ed’s pickup. This brought Otho and Otis in one pickup across from Deanie and Cletis in the other. They started hollering wisecracks to each other and tossed an old football back and forth between the two vehicles. “How about a black cherry soda pop, Otis?” Deanie shouted. “Yeah!” Otis loved black cherry soda pop, second only to Mountain Dew. He positioned himself facing Deanie, ready to catch the soda. Deanie opened one of the coolers, reached into the mass of ice, and produced a can of the tasty sweet red carbonated elixir. He held it above his head and waved it around wildly. “Are ya ready, Little O Bro?” “I’m ready! Toss ‘er here!” Otis punched his right fist into the palm of his left hand like a catcher behind home plate. Deanie pulled his right arm back and gave the soda he held an almost imperceptible shake. Then he rocketed it toward Otis. The cold can, wet with tiny chunks of melting ice, landed smackdab in Otis’s left hand. Just as Otis was about to pop the top on the can, Otho remarked, “I would wait a minute before opening that.” Otis didn’t pay a bit of attention to his older, wiser, more observant brother. With an air of defiance, he pulled the tab back. Ffffffffffsssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Black cherry soda erupted out of the small hole, spraying Otis first in the face, then showering his hair, shoulders, chest, and arms in dark red stickiness. He blinked a few times at Otho as the soda dripped from his eyelashes, nose, ears, chin, arms, and clothing. Deanie and Cletis exploded in laughter from the other pickup, and Otho pursed his lips in an attempt not to laugh. “Oh, Otis, I tried to warn you.” “What. Happened?” Otis wore a look of utter surprise and bewilderment. “Why did it blow up?” “Because the carbonation was under pressure from Deanie shaking it,” Otho explained. “Don’t you know that if you shake up a soda, it blows up all over the place if you open it too soon? You have a zillion brothers, Otis. One of us hasn’t done this to you before?” “No. No.” Otis sat motionless, in shock, drenched with an entire can of black cherry soda. “Your ignorance is unfortunate,” Otho chuckled. He leaned over and tapped on the back window of the pickup cab. Chuck turned at the sound of the tap, slid open the window, took one look at Otis, and went into fits of laughter. “Dad! You, you, gotta… stop!” He could barely get out the words. Marvel looked over at Chuck warily. “Why?” Chuck pointed as he was laughing too hard to speak. Marvel slowed the pickup to a halt. Ed noticed and also stopped his pickup. Marvel bailed out and took one look at Otis. He didn’t say a-
-word as he dug behind the seat of his pickup and pulled out a couple of “clean” rags. The cloths held stains of oil, and God only knows what else, but Mavis had laundered them, so they were technically clean. He grabbed a water jug, wetted down one of the rags, and tossed it to Otis. Otis dabbed at his face and hair, then the rest of him, uncharacteristically silent. “Otis received a science lesson about carbonation and gas under pressure compliments of Deanie,” Otho shared. Otis sheepishly looked at Marvel. “Sorry, Dad. I didn’t know.” “Well, now you do,” Marvel smirked. “We’ll deal with it when we get to camp.” About 20 minutes later, the group pulled into a grassy area under several dozen tall pines. The creek ran cool and clear, and the massive swimming hole Ed had dug out twenty years ago using his backhoe sat pristinely and stocked with fish. They’d installed a sturdy dock two summers ago, perfect for sitting with dangling feet and a fishing pole. Marvel got out and inspected the situation. “Come on, Otis, let’s wash you off.” He lowered the tailgate. Otis jumped off, and before he could even take a step, Marvel grabbed him and tossed him over his shoulder. He strode with purpose to the dock and started to run toward the end. “DAD! NOOOO!” Otis yelled, knowing what was coming if Marvel didn’t put the brakes on immediately. “Hold your breath and plug your nose!” Marvel soared off the end of the dock and cannon-balled into the cold water. Otis took a huge breath and pinched his nose just in the nick of time. The chill of the water cut through to his bones. He wriggled toward the surface and took in as much air as possible when his face broke out of the water. Marvel surfaced, too, and winked at Otis. At that moment, Otis felt warmth in his heart that took away the chill of the water. His dad had an uncanny way of teaching lessons and fixing things without saying much. Otis dog-paddled over to Marvel. “Thanks, Dad. I think most of the sticky got washed off. And the water isn’t so cold now that I’m numb.” “Oh, I’m not done,” Marvel smiled. His strong arms swung into a powerful stroke, and he reached the dock in seconds. He hoisted himself out of the water, ran to the others, and ducked down low enough to grab Deanie around the hips before he knew what was happening. Marvel sprinted toward the dock as Deanie flopped helplessly over his dad’s shoulder. “DAD! NOOOO!” Deanie yelled, half begging, half laughing. KERRRSPLASHHHH! *** The old canvas tent stood enormous, nestled among the trees, set up with cots for Ed and Marvel and sleeping bags for the rest of the boys. Away from the overhang of the trees, the camping chairs circled a fire that blazed and sent sparks into the waning light of the day. Cleaned and filleted fresh fish sizzled in two cast iron pans over the fire, and several large potatoes wrapped in tinfoil snuggled in the coals. Bags of chips, tubs of margarine and sour cream, salt and pepper shakers, and a supersize container of bacon bits sat on a picnic table. After the feast, Ed leaned back in his lawn chair, rubbed his-
-belly, and burped loudly. “That, gentlemen, was a meal fit for kings.” Marvel and the boys agreed. “You know, though,” Ed continued. “We still need dessert.” A smile curled across his face. The light from the fire danced across his expression, and his bushy eyebrows created shadows on his forehead that made him appear almost devilish. Marvel started chuckling. “I bet I know what you’re thinking, Dad.” The five boys knew, too. “There’s still enough light to complete our mission, men,” Ed stood and paced in front of the boys like a military sergeant. “Are you all up to the task?” The boys jumped out of their chairs and shouted they were absolutely up to the task. They ran ahead toward a rickety barbedwire fence one hundred yards behind the trees that established the property line. They held the barbed wires for each other to get through to the other side. Marvel and Ed piled into Ed’s pickup and slowly crept toward the fence to wait and watch. “So, is Ralph around?” Marvel asked. Ed giggled like a teenager. “He’s around.” “The boys still haven’t figured it out, have they?” Marvel inquired. “Nope, not even Otho,” Ed snorted. Marvel leaned out the pickup window. “You guys better be quick! I don’t want to explain to your mother why you have buckshot in your butts!” Ed had parked just short of the fence and flicked on the headlights illuminating the dark shadows created by a dense orchard. Five Swans perched in five different cherry trees, methodically picking as many bulbous red rounds as possible. They deposited the fruit in their shirts, folded like baskets, revealing their tummies. “Hurry up!” Ed ordered. “Farmer Ralph will shoot you if he catches you pilfering his precious cherries!” He winked at Marvel and grabbed the CB mic. He turned the volume down and, in a low tone, said, “Breaker, breaker, this here’s Old Yeller lookin’ for Ralph Malph, come back.” “Hey, Old Yeller,” a voice came over the radio. “I heard you and Straw Chopper talking earlier. Guess your new handle’s gonna stick?” Ed chuckled, “Guess so. Say, we’re up campin’, and I see some varmints in your orchard. How’s about you let ‘em know they’re not welcome around your pie-making supplies?” “I ‘preciate the heads up,” Ralph responded with a chortle. “I’ll grab my shotgun.” Ralph’s house sat only about two hundred yards from the edge of the orchard. Ed and Marvel knew he had a front-row seat to the action from his porch, but the boys were none the wiser. “Let ‘er rip anytime,” Ed snickered. “Superswan and I are ready for the show.” He returned the mic to its hook and nestled back in his seat. He looked at Marvel and smiled. “I think I’m going to like this here CB thingy. It’s handy for more than just farming.” A loud and distinct BANG suddenly sliced through the twilight. “BOYS! He’s coming! Get your butts outta there!” Ed shouted, suppressing a laugh. Ed and Marvel watched Deanie, Cletis, and Chuck drop out of their trees and bound at break-neck speed through the short grassy distance to the fence. Deanie held on to his shirt bulging-
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-with cherries and, with the other hand, held up one of the fence wires wide enough for Cletis and Chuck to duck through. Chuck did the same for Deanie, and he zipped through the opening. They reached Ed’s pickup out of breath and faces lit with elation and fear. “Wow, that sounded close,” Ed breathed, faking his worry. “Where’s Otho and Otis?” Marvel asked, also feigning concern. “Dunno,” Deanie breathed. “It was every man for himself once Farmer Ralph started shooting. He does this every year, and we always manage to escape.” BANG! “Jumpin’ Josaphat, that was Ralph again!” Ed exclaimed. He suddenly spied two faces illuminated in his high beams and yelled, “You O Bros better kick it in gear! That’s Ralph’s 12-guage.” Ed and Marvel stifled their laughter as they watched Otho and Otis run hell-bent for leather toward the fence. Otho slid between two wires as Otis scurried behind him, holding his shirt tightly to avoid losing his precious bounty. Thinking Otis had cleared the fence, Otho scooted toward the pickup. But Otis didn’t follow. His soda-stained shirt snagged one of the barbs. He was stuck. BOOM! Another shot by Ralph made even Ed jump in his seat. “He sure knows how to play a prank,” he winked at Marvel. Otho made it to the truck, breathing heavily. “Safe!” “Uh, you left a man behind,” Marvel stated. Otho turned his attention back to the fence and spied his youngest brother flailing about, snagged. “Helllpppp!” Otis shouted. “I’m stuck! I’m gonna get shot! I don’t wanna die!” Otho rolled his eyes in exasperation, and quickly deposited his cherries into an empty bucket in the back of Ed’s pickup. “Leave it to Little O Bro to get stuck, for crying out loud!” He raced back to help Otis. “That’s it, Otho,” Ed shouted. “O Bros for life and all!” KABOOOOM! Another shot rang out, and Ed and Marvel watched as Otho worked to free Otis. Fighting a losing battle, he finally ripped the shirt, freeing Otis. They sprinted to the pickup. “Holy cow, I thought I was gonna die,” Otis breathed. “But look! I didn’t drop one cherry!” “Nice,” Marvel snorted. “Your mother is going to be hot about you ruining your shirt, though.” “I’d still call it a successful mission, men,” Ed stated to the boys. “Let’s go eat your plunder.” The boys piled in the back of the pickup and began eating cherries. A spit-the-cherry-seed-at-your-brother war ensued, and Marvel closed the back window so none would come zipping into the cab. Ed reached over to the CB mic. “Breaker, breaker, Ralph Malph, ya got a copy?” “I’m here, good buddy,” Ralph answered. “How are those varmints?” “Ya lost some inventory, but the show was worth it,” Ed chuckled. “What do I owe ya?” “Nothin’,” Ralph responded. “I watched the whole thing. I haven’t laughed that hard since last year. Those boys can sure run!” “Thanks for the laughs, good buddy,” Ed chuckled. “Old Yeller signing off. Over ‘n out.”