Brief and Indelible Season

My favorite Girls Scout cookie

I can’t remember selling Girl Scout cookies in fourth grade. Most of the brief season with my Brownie troop remains a mystery.
Martha Bradley comes to mind. Her mother led our meetings at their home. Mrs. Bradley dressed like a Girl Scout and smiled a lot. She led us in the Brownie Pledge.
            “On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.”
            Brownie meetings were fun like Friday night Pioneer Girls at church. We learned a lesson, sang songs, and ate a snack. I was amazed that mothers led Brownie troops throughout Michigan, the United States, and the world!
            I remember the day Mrs. Bradley demonstrated how to assemble potatoes, carrots, and beef chunks on aluminum foil to make a hobo pie. We shook on salt and pepper then folded the foil over and sealed it around the edges.
            We carried our hobo pies into her backyard to a pile of wood. There our leader taught us a fire safety lesson. Then she placed a grill above the flames where we cooked our food. We sang camp songs new to me. One was a verse about a smile in our pocket. No wonder Mrs. Bradley smiled so much.
            Another we sang in rounds. “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
            At first taste, that one hobo pie of my lifetime fixed a steadfast hobo pie molecule in my food DNA. Just when I thought Brownie meetings and food couldn’t get any better, Mrs. Bradley doled out the fixings for S’mores.

           You mean graham crackers, a Hershey bar, and roasted marshmallows make something so delicious you want “some more?” The S’more molecule entwined the hobo pie’s.
            My second Brownie memory is a fine, delicate vision inside the former Ford Auditorium filled with hundreds of red cushioned seats. My troop sat in a row toward the back. An empty stage lay in front.
            The lights dimmed. Slow, beautiful music began and swelled in volume from some invisible place until it filled the spacious high ceiling. My skin tingled.
            Magically, ballerinas appeared in fluffy short skirts. One after another, they danced onto the stage in a straight line. On their toes! Their arms and legs moved the same way like someone pulled a cord attached to them. I could’ve cried when the lights went on and Mrs. Bradley said, “Time to go.”
            Dear Reader, come March, when I have several boxes of Girl Scout cookies stashed in our freezer, I pour hot cups of tea and melt Thin Mints in my mouth. I celebrate my indelible Brownie lessons and adventures. The hobo pie and S’more. A blazing bonfire and beautiful ballet.
            I hum the silver and gold song, take to heart the good advice for friendships fallen upon stony ground. On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.    

Cabin Fever Cures

Cuddles birdwatching

Cuddles, our tortoiseshell kitten, lifts a paw to the kitchen’s sliding glass door. Her ears twitch. She extends her neck as starlings gather in our bare maple tree. Her jaw trembles in cat chatter.
“I know what you mean, Cudds,” I say with my hands in dishwater. “It’s been a long winter.”
P.J. and Mo, our previous mousers, spoke the same language when bird sighting. I find this instinctive predatory muttering quite amusing.
          Mittens, our Siamese, doesn’t yet talk to birds. She’d rather make mischief, play catch and release with tomato vine stems, sometimes for hours. Mitts is interested in practicing her snaring skills—pouncing on Cudds or anything that moves.
That’s one reason why I stopped feeding birds when P.J. lived with us. The other reason? Deer, of course. One winter a doe walked away with a feeder clenched between her teeth. What talent.
          A year ago today, my husband and I drove in a snowstorm to Ann Arbor and back for lunch with old friends. “March is still winter in Michigan,” Mel repeats.
          Right on schedule, after months of ice and snow, hunger for my homegrown honey catches in my throat. I remember the few golden, sticky summers I drew off, extracted, and bottled over fifty pounds of pure goodness.
I haven’t since seen comparable traffic of honeybees, legs laden with saddlebags of amber pollen while the chickens scratched under the white pines nearby.
The 2019 Bee Order Form sits on my desk. For all my failures as a beekeeper, I may as well throw away the cost of a package of bees and a queen. However, we sometimes spend more than the bee cost on a week’s groceries. Our farm needs bees like it needs our hens, I reason. Mel and I need them too. We hope for another golden and sticky summer.

Bees love lavender

Indeed, our kittens have these and many other outdoor attractions awaiting them come spring. Great escape artists, I anticipate they won’t be rushing into the house come sundown.
Yet, they are attached to Mel and his siesta after lunch. We’ll see what happens with that habit.
Mel and I discuss what to grow in our vegetable garden. Again, he says, “We don’t need all that squash. It takes up too much space.”
Again, I say, “I love butternut squash soup.”
“We need more beets, and red and yellow onions,” he says.
“You’re right.”

I ordered Fedco organic seeds some months ago—lettuce and beets new to my raised bed and vegetable garden. I do appreciate a healthy harvest.
If the weather doesn’t foil our herb group meeting for the third month, I’ll pick up my seed order from Seven Ponds Nature Center March 13. Meanwhile, absence makes my heart grow fonder for my Earth-loving friends.
Dear Reader, I rest in our chicken chair with Cuddles and watch the starlings gather in the maple tree. At this moment, we’re entirely cured of cabin fever.
Mittens is another story.