The ice and the icing

We did not do a survivalist shop before the snow, just a regular one, and by the end of the week we were down to five slices of bread and just enough milk to make it to the big thaw if we only used it for coffee.

School was closed all week and while I returned to work on Thursday, I did not drive my car until Friday.

In less time than it would have taken to free my car from the snow, I had walked to work. I took my lunch: a microwave packet of dal from Costco, Ritz crackers, cheese, Sun Chips (which I hate, hate, hate; they are worse than those lowfat Doritos), dried figs and a grapefruit.

A colleague offered me a ride home, but you do not walk to work and hitch a ride home.  A peach sunset, smoky blue mountain ranges, brittle tree forms, electrical pylons. I followed the cleared fields of crunchy snow under the wires, through the donut tracks in the parking lot behind the church, looked out over the twinkling lights of the parkway and had yet another one of those disjointed moments of, “This is where I live.”

Or as my daughter observed this morning, “It seems like I’ve been here forever but also like we just got here.” And I told her I feel that way often. And she seemed a little surprised.

I was so happy to come home to the bounty of a shopping trip. And a store-bought king cake. It felt like such a luxury. “The girls made me buy it,” my husband said.

I like that we have regional foods, and that we are close enough to New Orleans to be part of the king cake tradition. I like that we can buy buttermilk in a half-gallon carton. In London, you could only buy little 250ml containers. I miss double cream, lemonade with ginger, digestives, Crunchie bars and sausages. (I know, it’s so Enid Blyton.) But in exchange we have a pillowcase full of fresh shelled black-eyed peas in our freezer. We can by stoneground cornmeal and grits, proper molasses, and there is a store in town that makes about 50 varieties of cupcakes. We haven’t even been there yet, and I have coupons for it in my purse, but it’s just good to know it is there. In London, there was the Bluebird Bakery, run by an expat American. Red velvet cake with its abundant frosting supplanted the elegant chocolate gateaux of Richoux and Maison Blanc for birthday treat of choice, though if I had to choose, I’d take a nice square of opera cake with coffee buttercream.

When we first arrived in les Etas-Unis, the girls gaped in wonder at tie-dye frosted cupcakes in vivid greens, yellows and blues at the supermarket. We discovered birthday cake flavored ice cream, with hard rivulets of blue frosting. We bought icing paste in Easter egg pastels at William-Sonoma. America is not afraid to use color in her food. Gatorade comes in at least two shades of blue, and people confuse it with juice, like it’s a reasonable thing for kids to drink. It’s a sports drink. Those people at Vitamin Water just got theirs from some advertising standards bureau and let me just say that was a long time coming. I think it’s just a fact that people like ingesting things that are blue or bright pink. And they took advantage of that.

We settled down. We’re in a groove with the food. We have our sources, our routines. And come the spring, hopefully, we will be back to fresh salad and veg from the garden.

Spring is coming: I went to the county agricultural office for soil testing kits. It is time to get going on the garden, rotate the crops, and to do something about the scrubby plantings in the yard and replace our trapezoid of lawn with wildflowers. The risk of ground frost is winding down. I am already behind.

But tonight there is a winter storm advisory and more snow is predicted. Just in case, I stopped by the supermarket on the way home and bought a baguette, a sourdough boule and a half-gallon of milk.


3 Replies to “The ice and the icing”

  1. what? no baby in your king cake?! unacceptable!!! you neglected to mention to ann that king cake is what they serve during mardi gras (thus the purple, green and gold icing/sprinkles) and that it has a plastic baby hidden inside that everyone wants to get (but not break a tooth on…)


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