Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brainard Lake

“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world."
--Edward Abbey

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Holding Onto Summer Salad

“i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes"
--E.E. Cummings

Does anyone else feel suspended between the delicious anticipation of fall and the wish that summer would never end? Each year, I look forward to all the cozy trappings of autumn: the crisp air calling for soups and stews and the wild beauty of the leaves as they turn fiery-hued. However, this year's summer has been infused with such an energy and brightness that I am sure I will mourn it as it slips away, as the days turn cooler and shorter, and I am less and less beguiled by the call of the outdoors.

The fleeting nature of each season is, of course, part of its inherent charm. I am sure I would not appreciate summer nearly as much if it lasted all year. Alas, it does not, and I am filled with gratitude to have known it: to have breathed the hot and dusty air; to have sat outside with friends at dusk; to have seen the world through the white glimmer of the summer sun; and to have tasted the bounty of the season.

I am determined to take full advantage of this final month of the season by finding myself on a trail at every chance, running or hiking or simply enjoying the sight of a mountain ridge against "a blue true dream of sky." So it is with this salad, which tastes, to me, distinctly like the beginning of the last month of summer. I savored it slowly and intentionally, with a tiny pocket of grief in my heart at the short-lived vibrancy of its ingredients.

I hesitate to even call this a recipe, for truly, making this salad consists of putting the ingredients in a bowl and eating them. Consume it with all of your senses, holding onto the flavors.

3 heaping handfuls of mixed greens, such as spinach, arugula, or kale
1 ripe white peach, diced
1/2 ripe heirloom tomato, diced
2 pieces bacon, cooked and chopped, with grease reserved for the dressing
4-5 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped

Dressing Ingredients
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
Juice of half a Meyer lemon
1 tbsp reserved bacon grease
Salt and pepper to taste

To Make:
Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl and, using two forks, move the ingredients around so the juice of the peach and tomato coats the leaves of the mixed greens. In a separate small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing and whisk briskly until well-incorporated. Pour the dressing onto the salad ingredients and again use your two forks to ensure the salad is evenly coated with dressing. Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Grand Lake & Rocky Mountain National Park

“Maybe freedom really is nothing left to lose. You had it once in childhood, when it was okay to climb a tree, to paint a crazy picture and wipe out on your bike, to get hurt. The spirit of risk gradually takes its leave. It follows the wild cries of joy and pain down the wind, through the hedgerow, growing ever fainter. What was that sound? A dog barking far off? That was our life calling to us, the one that was vigorous and undefended and curious.” 
--Randy Heller