Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Musing Over a Bowl of Oats

With a -35 degree windchill, this is oatmeal weather.  This is the bowl I just whipped up and I am enjoying as I type these first few lines.  I was never much of an oatmeal fan as a child.  I think my mom, usually an excellent cook, used quick oats, and the result was a gooey paste that was really difficult to swallow.

Early on in my teaching career, a friend and I shared a duplex up in the wilds of Spooner, Wisconsin.  Laurie was from Two Harbors, Minnesota, even farther north, and she quickly taught me the tricks behind a really good bowl of oatmeal, which is the winter mainstay of those true pioneers who inhabit the tundra of Lake Superior for six months out of the year.

I have been hooked ever since.

It is one of those breakfasts that I don't eat daily, but when the shock of cold makes my nose hurt when I let out the dog in the early morning and he quickly returns to the door hopping on three legs, I reach into my cupboard for my fine Quaker friend.

I have tweaked my recipe through the years, but it currently involves old fashion oats, a sprinkle of golden flax meal, and equal handfuls of dried cranberries and chopped pecans.  Of course you have to top it off with a healthy spoonful of brown sugar and a splash of whole milk to cool the edges.

And it has been brutally cold here in Wisconsin this winter.  Today is our fourth "cold day" since January 1st. It is dangerous for students to wait for buses and strong winds whip snow into drifts that close roads.  Last night I hung blankets over some of the older windows in my house--the ones that make the curtains flutter with each each hard gust.  My furnace is working non-stop, but at least I am not part of the propane shortage that folks farther north are experiencing.  

Prairie Eydie is hunkered down with a terrible cold.  She sent the kiddos to Grandma's, and she is burrowed into Amy Tan's Valley of Amazement and an economy box of Kleenex.  We text back and forth during the day.

The snow belt isn't the only place that is experiencing the furry of this winter.  My sister-friends in South Carolina are expecting serious ice today that will probably bring down power lines.  Just a few weeks ago I was walking on the beach just a couple of miles from their home and soaking up the sunshine. 

Stay safe and warm, dear Prairie Readers.  My oatmeal is done.  I have lessons to plan.  There will be school tomorrow--I hope. 

Prairie Sherry

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