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Winter

While the Rest of the World was Sleeping

viburnum x bodnantense, Bodnant Viburnum, winter, blooming, viburnum

Once a week a girlfriend, Cxx, and I go for a walk.  We live in the same neighborhood and we both have children the same age (both of us being late-bloomers).  We both love ice-cream, are in a love-hate relationship with our bodies and struggle daily with the balance between work and family.  And we have been friends since we were TEN years old.  You don’t need to know how many decades it has been… all you need to know is that we have been friends for a long (long) time.  Needless to say… she knows my inner workings even better than I do sometimes.  She knows to laugh off my cranky spats and will laugh at my not so funny jokes.  Cxx is a friend deep and true.

Our weekly walks are an opportunity to safely vent about our husbands and laugh at our children’s foibles.  We can boast without bragging and express concern without whining.   We share big dreams, petty little worries and mundane daily happenings.  Sometimes not much happens from week to week, but recently life’s changes have been occurring at a fast clip and our chats are filled with teary frustrations as well as bursts laughter.  I look forward to these walks each and every week.  They force me to leave my desk and get outside, they work my body and they rejuvenate my soul.

Which is great, because the weather hasn’t been equally as rejuvenating.  During the winter months, the Pacific NW displays two colors.  Grey and green.  Oh sure, occasionally, that bright, blue, magnificent sky will make an appearance.  And while we all run outside to soak up the sun… the view is still just a brighter green and a brighter grey.  

Every once in a while we are surprised to a treat.  During the month of February, the Witch Hazel will make her cheerful appearance and the Lenten Rose will emerge with its nodding cups of color.  The other day Cxx and I were walking briskly when a flash of pink and a spicy fragrance caused us to pause our lively banter.  The shrub was a mass of arching, bare sticks, telling a tale of cold winter days.  But scattered along the branches were little bursts of flowers. 

The cold, grey winter can seem long and unrelenting by February.  I look out my window and it seems as though little changes from day to day.  But then a bright spark will appear and remind me that even though the rest of the world is sleeping, the seasons continue to cycle and spring will in fact come again.  For this and for a friendship that is long and true I give thanks.

b.story 13.02 Viburnum Bodnant Flower 1

Viburnum x bodnantense – Bodnant Viburnum
The star attraction of the Bodnant Viburnum is the bright pink, fragrant flower clusters that make an appearance during the cold grey of winter.  The rest of the year the shrub serves as a textured background plant.  A deciduous shrub reaching 8 ft in height and an equal spread the Bodnant Viburnum does best in full sun and regular water, but will do ok with part shade and even a little neglect.  During the spring months the shrub has red ornamental berries that will attract birds and butterflies.

 

Anticipation

b.story 12.02.08 Magnolia Tree
My son started developing his Christmas list in July.  Now, I realize to some, this might sound like a greedy enterprise.  However, for my six year old boy, the Christmas list becomes a fine-tuned art.  It might seem a stretch, but drafting the list is viewed as an opportunity to practice hand-writing and spelling, two…

Week 50 – Pomegranate Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

b.salad 11.12.19 Pomegranate goat cheese
One of the objectives of a long-term goal is to try things you’ve never tried before… to stretch your limits and master something new.  As I near the end of my ‘Year of Salad’ I am proud that I have met my own personal challenge.  Rather than continually serving the same basic green salad with store-bought…

Week 49 – Kale Salad

b.salad 11.12.12 kale salad
I am starting to make my list and check it twice.  My husband’s family is about to descend upon us for the Christmas festivities.  And since my family lives here in town, it means that Christmas dinner will be a lively, festive, crowded affair with many different food preferences and preferred Christmas traditions.  There are…

Week 16 – Slaw with Peanut Dressing

b.salad 11.04.25 slaw peanut dressing
Spring is in the air, but the new spring vegetables just aren’t quite ready for harvesting (at least not in my yard). In the meantime we must continue to dine on winter vegetables. This salad is another excellent dish that bridges that gap between winter and spring. The cabbage and celery root are winter leftovers,…

Week 14 – Frisee with Bacon and Dates

b.salad 11.04.11 frisse bacon date
One of my favorite appetizers is a little bite-sized Spanish tapa, especially when it comes from my favorite Portland restaurant, Toro Bravo. Bacon is wrapped around a date, which is wrapped around a slice of almond. It is then warmed through and a sweet glaze is drizzled across the top. It takes just one of…

Week 13 – Celery Root, Apple Salad

b.salad 11.04.04 Celery Root Apple Salad
  At my local supermarket this week, there was only one vegetable (besides beets!) that came from local sources.  And so I set myself a challenge to figure out what to do with what might be called ‘ugliest’ vegetable.  Enter the celery root.  Also known as celeriac, this vegetable is available during the long months…

Week 9 – Leek Salad

b.salad 11.03.08 leek salad
When is a salad a salad and when is it a side dish?  I have been asking myself this earth-shaking question as I’ve researched leek salads.  The tough, fibrous nature of leeks supports the notion that the vegetable should be eaten only after it has been sautéed, grilled or braised.  Since leeks are one of the few local…

Week 7 – Tangelo, Walnut Green Salad

b.salad 11.02.18 tangelo
I have been searching and searching for a salad using citrus. But I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, until I stumbled across this recipe. Citrus season is about over, but I had to give this salad a try and I was so glad I did. This salad, using common winter ingredients, speaks…

Week 6 – Salad Lyonnnaise

b.salad 11.02.14 lyonnaise
I realize the cliché in telling the story of a French salad on Valentine’s Day. But the fact remains that some of my favorite memories shared with my husband have taken place in France. This salad reminds us of those long leisurely dinners that are more about the delightful setting and wonderful conversation then a…