This story by the amazing Zen Priest, Mako Voelkel, brings back art and water memories in Temagami. But hey, not to dwell in the past.
Paharomen Nahareo Flaming Leaf Gertrude Bernard Gertie Pony and Mrs. Grey Owl. Was she perhaps more multiplicitous than her husband Archibald Stansfeld Belany Washaquonasin Grey Owl? Prospector, dogsledder, wilderness woman, animal rights activist, published author, and Order of Canada. Let’s give Anahareo her due. And by the way, unlike her husband Archie, she was ‘full blood’ Indian.
Anahareo was the impetus behind Grey Owl’s transformation from trapper to conservationist. She was the one who arranged his first speaking engagement at a local hall in Metis Beach, Gaspé Peninsula. (That one evening eventually led to an annual international pace of over 300.) And she was the one who fashioned and beaded his ‘Indian’ clothing, to help him with his image.
Her first marriage to Grey Owl had the glitter of fame. Her second marriage was to a Count. Count Eric Axel Moltke-Huitfeldt, a member of a Swedish noble family who lived in Saskatchewan and later Alberta. I cannot glean whether he was a wealthy man. But he was a Count, which as Einstein says, what can be counted doesn’t always count, and what counts can’t always be counted. So dear reader, you decide.
When you read about Anahareo’s life, action after action shows her to be a woman who defied the stereotype of a female European, aboriginal and Catholic. She was a feminist of the early 20th century.
And so, even though I invented my recipe Grey Owl pie in honour of Archie, I dedicate my recipe, to Anahareo. Wow. She is someone I’d liked to have met.
Grey Owl Pie
An original recipe by chef Caryn Colman. Yields 6-8 portions There is no owl in the pie.
Grey Owl pie banks on the local ingredients historically available in Temagami, back in the day: cabbage, apples, onions, carrots, potato, flour, and fat.
As a chef, I’m taking some creative license by using duck fat (even though wild ducks have no fat), and purple cabbage (probably an unavailable variety in early 20th century Ontario) for the sensual pleasure of colour.
Ingredients for one large pie
½ purple cabbage / 2 apples / 1 large onion / 4-6 carrots / raisins (or currents, dates, or cranberries) / 1 cup apple cider ( or juice, water, or dark beer) / salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, caraway seed (or dill, celery, fennel, or loveage seed), apple cider vinegar.
Heat a large cast iron skillet –the kind you always find in the backwoods cabin — and add a good dollop of fat. Add your cabbage shredded, and onions sliced. Don’t worry too much about the precise cut because when you braise, everything melts and marries together.
Sweat all these ingredients. Combine enough raisins, spices, and cider vinegar to give the dish a sweet and sour tang, and the liquid. Now you add your diced apples (I don’t peel. I’m lazy). Cover to braise and let it all simmer down. From time to time remove the lid, stir, judge the liquid amount and recover the lid or not. Cooking time could take about 40-60 minutes. You can easily prepare this a day or so earlier, for it holds well and the flavour marriage improves.
Meanwhile your potatoes can be boiling, in preparation for a mash.
Shred and blanch your carrots, toss with caraway seed.
We’re almost finished. But there’s more fun….
Preheat your oven to 400. When all ingredients are cooled, assemble your pie shell starting with a layer of braised cabbage, then the shredded carrot, topped with a nice dollop of mashed potato. If you wish, and especially if it’s cold outside (those Northeastern Ontario winters are brutal in a bush cabin), top with a little more duck fat. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with a heavy bread and slow-roast duck (that’s where you got your fat supply), or any kind of rich meat of your choice.
All is well. I’ll be back to fill in the gaps soon. The magic keeps coming. Keep the faith!
At G’s Slow Smoke Bbq in Baldwin, Florida
Yep, it’s true. After living two months in West Palm Beach Florida, I can say that G’s Slow Smoke Bbq in Baldwin is the best restaurant. (Dairy Queen doesn’t count).
Unpretentious but full of downtime style, really clean, and simply delicious, ‘G’s should be on anyone’s list on the USA Bbq tour.
‘G’ is a serious Bbq competitor. And he wins. How can I get ‘G’s Bbq in Canada? Maybe I’ll just have to drive back down to Florida.
Blessed are they, those who have and those who have not. Some get cancer, some do not.
A little glitz, a little pride, and lots of love. All given by those touched by breast cancer. And who hasn’t been touched?
“The Challenge of the Americas, known throughout the equestrian world for its spectacular performances on horseback, returns for its 12th Anniversary to continue its fight against breast cancer. This annual fundraiser is a one-of-a-kind affaire that highlights the equestrian sports of Dressage and Polo. Competing riders include the “Who’s Who” of the top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.”
My dressage coach, Erin Swaney, was choreographing a musical freestyle quadrille to a medley of music including Shirley Temple and Melissa Etheridge. She needed help with her team, Show Chic (sponsored by same store in Wellington), and she needed help (not the riding kind). So I volunteered and was put on theatrical ribbon duty, but ended up shooting lots of photos. I almost felt useful. Instead, I had a chance to study Erin’s young riders’ team up close in training and performing. I’m terribly inspired by their backs (you non-riding readers may not understand this), solid, supple, fused with the horse. That’s the secret of controlling your horse’s every limb at this finesse level. Easy to say….
Clearly, everyone participating had a super horse, superb tack, elegant turn out (from the likes of Show Chic), a groom, horse transport, and the means to work on improving their equestrian art. More importantly, they’ve had support from an early age, a history of mentorship, and the passion to learn. But what will always keep my jaw on the floor, is that these horses eat better, and live cleaner, than most people in the world. Blessed are they, those who have and those who have not. Some get cancer, some do not.Links:
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®www.bcrfcure.org.
Play for P.I.N.K.®, (Prevention, Immediate Diagnosis, New Technology, Knowledge) is a 501 (c)(3) grassroots organization dedicated to raising funds to fight breast cancer through lifestyle and sporting events.www.playforpink.org
Help us raise money every time you shop on Amazon. By using this link, Amazon will automatically donate a percentage of every transaction to Play for P.I.N.K.
Southern hospitality is when someone thinks you’re lost, they approach you, escort you to your destination, and invite you to stay at their home. Horse, cats, and all. Next they’ve made you coffee, treat you out to fine dinner, and tour you around their Tennessee neighbourhood. That’s what happened with John Haynes and his wife Pat.
But Johnny was more than that to me. My guardian angel was working through him.
I was hauling my mare on a quiet side road, scouring road signs. In my truck’s side mirror I saw the Sherriff’s vehicle blinking lights. Whoops, I said, why am I being stopped? As far as I knew, my truck and rig were compliant. But what the heck, I like cops. Maybe I need to know something. Constable Haynes politely inquired if I was looking for Catoosa Ridge Stables. Yes, and apparently I had missed my turn.
I would never have found Catoosa without his help. Worse was I was the only one at the campground. Not another horse, camper, or trailer to be seen. You see, folks in Tennessee don’t ride if it’s not above 50. It had been cold and rainy all week. But it was my destination, and after the last two dives in Big South Fork, it was a welcome sight. Catoosa’s barns were new and professional. Stall floors had not been pawed away by anxious horses. Heat permeated the large guest lounge which had expansive cushy sofas. There were washrooms and showers with hot water. I would have stayed but as a single woman, wisdom prevailed. So did John Haynes.
John kept asking me if I was crazy to be staying there alone like that. His wife Pat said she wouldn’t have slept all night knowing I was there by myself. The rest is history.
Community service is John’s life work. He is blessed to have found it in law enforcement and criminal investigation for sexual child abuse. Johnny puts people away for good. In 2014, the National Children’s Advocacy Centre awarded John with the Outstanding Service Award. By the way, John is also blessed to have found Pat. They are a wonderful couple, the kind I seldom encounter, and hope to create for myself one day.
Southern hospitality extends to animals as well. At the Haynes farm, Georgia spent a calm, contented night for the first time in 5 days. She’s not restless in her stall, she’s calmly munching her hay, drinking water, and musing about the geldings basking in the moonlight in the paddock beside her.
So after 6 weeks on the road and 7 stables (or so-called), I took sanctuary with John and Pat for 9 days. We started 2015 off right with a New Year’s Day trail ride at East Fork Stables, slow-cooked beef stew for dinner, and equine massages all round.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.” John Newton (1725-1807)
As a trail rider, I have always had a perverse desire: to get lost in the forest while on horseback. It would force my courage to test the adage: “If you ever get lost on your horse, just give her her head.” Yea. Let the reins go long and loose. She’ll find her way home. I’ve read that carriage drivers would fall asleep at the helm, knowing their horse would self-drive back to the barn. Could it really be true?
How do horses do it? Find their way home to an unfamiliar barn, to a place hardly experienced? Do horses have a such an instinct? Homing pigeons for example, take their reading from the sun, and internally calibrate their direction home. Is it a scent that horses follow? They certainly sniff the ground and sometimes leave their droppings. But it is not a territorial imperative like dogs.
For that matter, how do we do it? Us humans? How do we find home, decide where to live, what our right livelihood is, who to love? I flounder with it all.
It was December 29, rainy and cold. I knew I was starting my trail ride late at 1 p.m. But I have faith in Georgia Grace, my mare. And I have faith in my Canadain cold-blooded wilderness skills. I took a compass, map, cell phone, and whistle. I would be fine even if my ride ended at dusk. I just needed to keep an eye on my time and destination: Bandy Creek Campground and Stables, in Big South Fork National Forest, Tennessee.
But it didn’t work out as planned. I dallied on the trail, letting Georgia splash in a deep stream. Sometimes I dismounted to help her walk up the big hills. Photo opps were too numerous to resist. We were behind schedule, but so close to our destination. We had to push on.
And it was worth it. The Bandy Creek Campground was impressive. Large, gray barns loomed up from the misty afternoon. Rolling meadows invited a good gallop. The facility appeared clean and sturdy. But not a soul was staying. We’d be all alone—no horse or person in Tennessee endures camping, or even riding, in the cold, which to me, wasn’t really cold at all.
Our return ride proceeded well, and I thought we were home free. But we met an intersection with two arrows pointing out different trails to the same destination, the Cumberland Lake trailhead, I became confused and disoriented. But I wasn’t scared, or desperate. I reviewed the map carefully. Even if we took the long way home, we’ll still come out at the Cumberland Valley trailhead. By all accounts I was to turn right.
Here’s where I gave Georgia her head. She chose the trail. Walking along, there were no familiar landmarks. The forest looked the same. It wasn’t long before I second guessed Georgia, and turned her around. But just as I did, I saw her hoof prints coming towards us. An affirming sign. But where was that trail crossing? Shouldn’t we have come to it by now?
So possibly, I’m lost in the forest. I half wished it. (So be careful what you ask for). Dusk is falling, made more rapid by the density of the canopy. I feel stupid to have taken Georgia on this ride, so late in the afternoon. She’s tired. It has been drizzling for a few hours within a week of rain. Everyone knows accidents happen when you get tired. What am I putting my animals through on this crazy odyssey I’m on—two cats and a mare? I feel like I’ve made all kinds of stupid decisions lately.
I’m swearing blasphemously like no one can hear me. I’m feeling sorry for myself. And did I say stupid? I feel like I’ve hit bottom. Things can’t get worse. I cry out to my ancestors for guidance. Tears and wailing.
But my mare, she just keeps on moving, never wanting to stop. She’s moving more energetically than when we were going away from the barn. Does that mean anything? Isn’t that just what horses do?
Then the magic happens. Flushing out from the forest, one, two, three, four, large white animals bounce away. They moved like deer, but with more whiteness than the underside of a tail. No. There was nothing else they could be, but deer. Four white deer. Four albino deer. Four. The medicine wheel.
From that short episode I’m reminded that powerful signs appear without warning. You cannot anticipate them. They come when they do, as they should. Sometimes it’s huge, like the rare albino deer. Or meeting an influential person at the library who claims you for his next lifetime, or woman at the grocery store who is getting paid to go on an odyssey just like yours, or the sheriff who pulled you over and took you home. And sometimes it is small, like a phrase your eyes pass over, or an interview you hear on the radio, a book someone gives you, a shedded snakeskin in the barn on New Year’s Day…. It’s all mystical. It’s called Grace. Divine Grace.
We finally got back to the barn and I rubbed Georgia down with muscle liniment. She got a massage. Her wool blanket wicked all the moisture away. She ate well. She rested.
I came to Big South Fork National Forest to ride between Christmas and New Years. The timing was bad. The two barns I stabled at were disappointing—one a downright dive with a bad vibe, the other gussied up in a hokey cowboy theme. But it didn’t matter anymore.
I could not have a better experience than meeting four albino deer on the day I possibly got lost in the forest on my beautiful mare, Georgia Grace.
P.S. Stay tuned for my next post about guardian angels.
You cannot do great things in this world, we can only do little things with great love. Mother Teresa
In Franklin, Tennessee, you’ll find a tiny, one room barber shop and a petite, down-to-earth woman with lovely coiffed hair. Genie Coté, the female barber, only cuts mens’ hair. ‘They’re easier than women,’ she says. ‘They come in and don’t fuss much.’ Unfortunately, that meant she couldn’t give me a haircut. And I needed one.
We met through a mutual friend because of our interest in rescue horses. When Genie talks about the horses, her eyes, mismatched in shape, quickly open and equalize. ‘There are more horses in Williamson County than in all of Texas’, she says.
Willamson County is the wealthiest county in Tennessee. You’d think horses would be immune to neglect here. But that isn’t so. After twenty years, Genie has rehabilitated and re-homed many horses from farms around Franklin, Leiper’s Fork, Fairview and beyond. She gives them another chance at the good life. Sometimes that’s with her.
Compassionate action is needed all over the world, be it for animals or people. Blessed be people like Genie who dedicate personal resources of time, money, and land to the helpless. People like Genie work quietly and small. But that’s huge. It’s all any of us can hope to do.
As Genie closed her barber shop that Friday night, we talked about going to the horse auction. Instead we got caught up exchanging stories late into the night. It was a good thing because an auction pulls hard at the heart.
As for a haircut, I still need one, now more than ever.
Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley, Garth Brooks, Glen Campbell, Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Everly Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs, Lefty Frizzel, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Sonny James, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Pee Wee King, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Roger Miller, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Minnie Pearl, Elvis Presley, Ray Price, Charley Pride, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, Kenny Rogers, Hank Snow, George Strait, The Statler Brothers, Merle Travis, Conway Twitty, Porter Wagoner, Kitty Wells, Hank Williams, Don Williams…..
They’re all in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. Go there and learn more than you’ll ever need to about country music’s historic influences like the depression, blues roots, and Hollywood. On display are records, awards, instruments, film clips, honky tonk recordings, and the costumes. I loved the costumes, sequined, embroidered, tasseled, but….they all seem made for small bodies. How could they be so tiny? Because when you’re a star, you’re larger than life!
Which begs me to make a distinction between performance glitz and making music for the love of it. There is a difference.
It got me feeling homesick for those kitchen jamming parties back home in Temagami at Vicky and Rob’s. You’ll never hear a radio or cd playing there. Only a talented cast like Vicky and Rob, David, his sibs Mary and Sandra, Heather, Bobby, the Dupuis sisters…with guitars, harmonicas, fiddles, piano, banjo and bongos.
I miss classical ensemble playing and reading music with Temiskaming Strings. I miss fiddling once a month at the Callander Legion, learning tunes by ear with the old time fiddlers of East Ferris. Then there are my friends in Toronto and Ste. Adele with haunting klezmer tunes.
One thing I know for sure, nothing like music touches me so deeply, stops me in my tracks, turns my day brightly, or makes me weep. But playing, well, that’s about belonging to a community, finding your tribe, entering the fold. It’s sacred, which is why music is eternal.
I recommend a visit to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. But it ain’t worth as much as playing music with my friends back home.
Growing food is a sacred occupation, an act of service to the land and community.
I’ve been traveling in the USA now for about one month. My impressions about the scarcity of whole food have not changed much. It is just darn hard to source. Even when I was driving through Ohio farmland, all I could find were those Family Dollar / Dollar General stores, or the ubiquitous pizza subs and suds shacks in every small town. People told me to go to Walmart. But the idea turns my stomach. Walmart threatens local food security. Then again, I suppose we’d have to define local. Compare the neighbourhood farm with Mexico, or the moon.
So you can imagine my delight when I landed at Hill and Hollow, a biodynamic CSA in Breeding, KY. The farm borders a creek banked by hardwood hills of oak, maple, hickory, sycamore, and cedar. I went as a wwoofer, primarily to be their chef for a week, and bonus, to help with the horses.
Hill and Hollow is a family run enterprise, with parents Paul and Robin, teenagers Sasha and Madeleine, and toddler Will. Will used words like fracking, odyssey, and bullshit. Need I say? He won my heart. The kids are all home schooled and work the farm. It’s a tightly run, loving family, wealthy in its own right. They deliver their CSA boxes to a farmer’s market in Nashville –everything is presold.
Diverse with five or six outdoor gardens, two vegetable tunnels, and greenhouse, the family also tends sheep, pigs, cows, ducks and sometimes chickens. Being late December, we ate a lot of tat choy, chard, kale, chinese cabbage, salad turnip, leeks and lemons. Potatoes, celeriac, yams, frozen beans and Robin’s great preserves were all readily available.
Everything had a use. One day we husked Butcher’s Blood corn, for food, seed and decoration. With hand-cranked machines, the kernel came off and went into the grist mill. With the red cornmeal I made polenta for the evening’s meal. A few days later Madeleine and I made cornhusk dolls for the Christmas market.
The business went beyond raw materials, adding value, and profit. Maple syrup came from the hills. Oak logs were inoculated to produce shitake mushrooms. Meyer lemons from the greenhouse were transformed into lemon curd and canned. Raw milk turned into yogurt and cheese.
Nothing was wasted. My cheffing covered all the easy stuff like ribs, spaghetti bolognese, and beef bourguignon. But the offal was a welcome challenge. Pork liver turned into the classic smothered-in-onions dinner, and then paté (aka chopped liver) stuffed into ramekins and sealed with thick homemade blackberry jam. The lamb heart became the subject of a Valentine’s day offering, stuffed with chard and garlic. Wild trout, a product of Paul’s leisure, was pan fried whole, according to the ‘Canadian’ method of cooking fish. If there was any food waste it went to the pigs. Even fish bones.
Preparing the evening meal was supported by Madeliene and the wee Will. It was a fun time and I like to think I’ve influenced young cooks. Paul says I raised the bench on roasting vegetables. But they influenced me too, from the waffle batter always on tap, to the superb coffee with cream just drawn off the raw milk –that my friends, sweetened with molasses, was like Christmas everyday.
Growing food is a sacred occupation, an act of service to the land and community. Eating at Hill and Hollow was a remarkable celebratory experience. But it shouldn’t be. Most everything we ate was hours old. Don’t you think that’s how everyone should be eating?
P.S. As for the horseback riding, I enjoyed lots of gorgeous riding all around the hills and hollows, of Hill and Hollow CSA.