Night has fallen over the sweet small valley. Buck is prone beside me making those almost but not quite snoring sounds that a contented man with a quiet mind, the assurance of love, and a belly full of soup makes. I am listening to Patty Griffin sing “Up to the Mountain” and have to say, I am feeling pretty mellow myself.
Sunday morning will be here before we know it, and just like that it will be time to turn in the cottage keys to “Awesome View” and return them to the good folks at the management company, Carolina Vacations. We won’t go directly home, but to Jacksonville for our annual wellness physicals at Mayo Clinic. I realized while writing a friend today that we have been trekking to Mayo once a year for the past 15 years. This year promises to be “Mayo Lite” — no special tests or procedures, just an oil change and tire rotation, then we’re back on the road toward home and the Longleaf woods.
I’ve got one eye on a gal named Debby. She’s the fourth named storm of the season, and is kicking up a little fuss out in the Gulf. I made “clean out the refrigerator” soup for our supper tonight. There were several Springer Mountain Farms chicken breasts in the meat drawer, along with the carcass of a deli chicken from the local Ingles grocery store. I sweated several sliced carrots, sliced celery ribs, an onion and several baby turnip roots in a lump of butter, then added the chicken carcass, chicken broth and a marvelous concentrated chicken stock (a gift from good friend Betty Hunter who visited us for some porch-sitting time along with her husband, good friend Jim). That simmered for a bit. Then I remembered a few leaves of baby spinach in the produce drawer, shredded them and let them fall like leaves into the pot. Ah, the mousserin mushrooms — another gift from Betty — looked like just the thing to elevate this chicken soup to a whole new level. I rinsed and rehydrated them gently, then added them to the fragrant circle of steam. At the last, a few green beans, okra and a four spoons of brown rice.
I wish Betty and Jim had been here tonight to share the bounty of this soup. Betty is nearby, attending a conference. Jim is far away, visiting a son in Serbia. Oh, I felt for him after hearing about his 25 hour “flight from hell” that involved a damaged aircraft, missed flights, and desperate exhaustion. I imagine (and hope) he is rested now and feeling less like the Stranger in a Strange Land.
The soup simmered, and I absently began to put things we won’t be using again this trip into a canvas bag: oatmeal, herbes d’provence, oregano, a can of Ortiz white tuna in oil, a box of Chai tea bags, a partly eaten box of Kashi go-lean super crunch cereal, the dregs of a bag of Bear Naked granola. The peanut butter stays on the counter. It is Buck’s survival food, his almost-every-day breakfast.
These unplanned movements cause me to realize I miss home. Even here, on this lush mountainside, I am suddenly homesick. When Sunday morning comes, I’ll be packed and ready.
And when we get home, I’ll move the bird feeders close to the back windows, where I can see them up close. I took the window screens out of the casement windows recently, so I might able to photograph winged visitors up close from my perch inside the house.