One of the best things about Yule—better known as Winter Break—is hot tea, without interruption or rushing. A large yellow mug of Ceylon Silver Striped tea from the Tao of Tea in Portland can take all morning, and that’s ok. I was considering this fact this morning, while Mark wandered around, considering his layers for the Assault on McCulloch Peak (a 2000 foot rise in the OSU research forest). We had climbed the hill a few years ago—also in January, and seen nothing but some scruffy snow, a lot of clouds, and logged over patches at the top. He had high hopes this morning, even though clouds had clearly moved in last night—low clouds.
There is nothing happening in the yard. Nothing growing. Nothing to be harvested or seeded out. No eggs being laid. Even the mud is under control, thanks to the new hog fuel pathway. We could prune a bit out of the hazelnut tree, or cut back the laurel hedge, but that can wait. There are seed catalogs to peruse, deep questions about growing winter squash to answer—is it really worth the space and effort, or should I just shift the patch over to more edamane? How should the beds be rotated this year? In a few weeks, a snowdrop or two will poke out of the beds around the rabbit hutch or under the fig tree, the cole crops seeded out and under lights in my classroom, the first cold frame set up over the early spring bed to dry out the soil a bit before planting, the bees poking their noses out to consider the pollen from the hazelnut trees hanging above their hive. Right now, all is still, balanced on the turn of the year. It’s a good day for a long walk.
Corvallis is surrounded by hills, mostly covered in second growth forest, managed by the university. There are miles on miles of logging roads, winding through the woods, following the ridges. The trailheads start a mile or so out of town, within biking distance if you are feeling energetic. In the winter, we hike them all in rotation—gravel roads are not covered in mud and, sometimes, high up, the sun comes out. That was our hope today as we began the steady climb out of Oak Creek valley, through the clouds (literally). Thirty eight degrees and damp. Weather only a furry dog could love. Half way up, we reconsidered the map. “We’re not going to see anything,” Mark observed. “Nope.” “We could try this loop instead,” he pointed out, studying how another logging road curved around and headed back down the other side of the valley. “It’s still a good walk and we’ve never been there.” “Looks good.” We shifted direction, headed down the hill. “Hot tea,” I thought, “And, maybe, some English Muffins.”
Proof 1 T of yeast in 1 cup of warm milk—I used dried milk—with 1 t of honey.
Add 1 t of salt and a T of oil or melted better, ix
Add 2.5 cups of flour—mixed what and white and knead for five minutes.
Set aside to rise for two hours.
Roll out about a half inch thick, cut in circles, place on a cornmeal covered tray, and let rise again.
Cook lightly in a cast iron frying pan. 2-3 minutes per side.
Toast when ready to eat.