Saturday, November 15

Stone Spirits {Chicken & Rice Soup with Lemon & Thyme}

It was once thought that echos were the voices of spirits calling to the living from within the rocks... 

Some Native American cultures believed that a Shaman could visit with these spirits in stone, or manitous, as they were called, by leaving his body and passing through the solid surface of the stone.  Once inside he could trade with the spirits for tobacco, herbs, paint and medicine.  It was risky business - communicating with the stone spirits.  For if the shaman failed to carry out the ceremony correctly he'd become trapped in a prison of stone, leaving the shell of his lifeless body outside.

A few weeks ago we found ourselves here, among the spirits of the stones.  It's a little know place, off a dusty dirt road, about 25 miles outside of Colorado Springs.  Locals call it The Paint Mines.  It's a fascinating study in geology.  In a depression on the plains at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, richly coloured clay spires, capped with rugged sandstone hats, create a labyrinth of gullies and gulches.  Archaeological evidence suggests that humans have inhabited the Paint Mines for over 9000 years!  Striations of vividly coloured clay stretch across the stone pillars in layers- ochre, aubergine, and rose.  They were used to make ceremonial paint and to create and paint pottery, hence the name The Paint Mines.

Sunday, November 9

Strawberries Forever {Easy Strawberry Muffins & Organic Strawberry Ice Cream}

It's early Sunday morning.  I'm in that hazy place where sleep is fading with the morning dawn when I hear her slipper-clad feet shuffling down the hall.  She pushes my bedroom door open.  It creaks on its hinges...

"Mommy?"  she says softly, barely a whisper.  I can feel her breath on my ear.

Relishing the warmth of the bed, I don't open my eyes.  The disheveled blankets envelope me like a cloud, the sheets are cool when I move my feet.  She persists.

"Mommy," she says again, brushing my cheek tenderly, the very same way I stroke hers when checking for a fever when she's feeling unwell.  "Mommy, I'm hungry."

I open my eyes just a bit.  Her face is three inches from mine.  Her hair smells like strawberry shortcake from the shampoo we used in the bath last night.  Even her little fingernails are painted strawberry to match mine.  The paint is chipped and peeling, but she still thinks they look beautiful, and so do I.  In one hand she clutches the leg of a pink, rubber monster - a prize from Halloween.  In the crook of her elbow she cradles a worn pink bunny the way all children tuck away their most loved objects when they need to use both hands.  It's her Velveteen Rabbit.

"Can we have strawberry muffins for breakfast?"

It's her second request for strawberries in as many days.  I've told her countless times that strawberries aren't in season this time of year.  Anywhere.  And that makes them all the more desirable.  Which is why I always keep bags of organic strawberries stashed away in the freezer.  You never know when the cravings will strike.

Yesterday it was strawberry ice cream made with organic cream and milk, smooth Madagascar vanilla, and frozen strawberries.  Because she's allergic to peanuts, nearly all brands of ice cream are out.  So I make it at home.  If ever I were to have a love affair with a kitchen appliance it would be with my ice cream maker.  Life would be dreadfully dull without it!  But I'm drifting off again . . .