Snow Day Holiday

Today is MLK Day. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contemporaries made a difference. They changed the world for the better. Safe and warm at home it is easy to forget that. We have a holiday today so that we remember that. I will do my best to remember that, not just today.

I had the privilege of meeting John Lewis a few years ago. That guy made me feel welcome and included and heard and seen. And he also made me feel like, no matter what, I could be doing more. That may simply be what happens when you meet someone who has put their life on the line for the greater good. He also reminded me that making small change is just as important and making big change. So at least I can focus on that.

The sun has set now. It is dark and the string lights on the porch railing and posts glow with their coating of snow. It snowed all day. The forecast called for snow tapering off by early afternoon, with total accumulation of up to three inches. They upped that estimated total amount to six inches by early afternoon. We got about a foot of snow by the time is stopped as the light faded.

This has been a day to celebrate. Any snowy day is a day to celebrate. I cannot fail to see how beautiful the world is when it snows. Even the grayest, dirtiest landscape becomes beautiful when it snows. And today we got a pile of the stuff. You might call it glorious.

So today we had reason to celebrate for multiple reasons. And celebration is what we need these days. I skied across the fields with snow tickling my face. I baked a batch of granola. I took care of a few niggling tasks. And I thought about how to change the world. I can start right now by making dinner for my family. It isn’t a lot but in our world it makes a difference. That’s something.

Going for the Crusty

A couple of times now I have attempted to make crusty rolls. I am hoping to get them nailed down this month. Both attempts had their successes and but neither was just right. The thing about bread is that there are a bunch of factors that determine its character–the type of flour, rising time, oven temperature, baking time, humidity, other ingredients. Change one and the whole thing changes.

I know that to get a good crust you need to keep ingredients simple–flour, water, yeast, salt, maybe a little sweetener to get the yeast doing its thing. You need to let it rise enough so its makes big air pockets. You need to bake it hot enough, and adding water makes a difference. I tried all those things and I will need to keep experimenting.

The first batch? I added some butter. I should not have done that I guess. And the temperature was pretty high. I added a good dose of steam as I added them to the oven to bake so that helped, and I brushed them with an egg white/water wash. Those were crusty. They had just the right combination of crunch on the outside and softness on the inside. They were, however, a bit dark on the top. I mean, they were not quite burned, but I would not call them golden brown.

The second batch looked far better, but I had not let them rise as much. The water I added to the oven may not have been as hot as well. So they looked amazing–brown and puffy. They had some crust crunch, but not a whole lot. The flavor, however, was spot on. So they were downright delicious but not quite what I was aiming for.

I was going to try again today but the time passed and suddenly it felt too late to give this project the attention I needed to give it. So maybe tomorrow I will give it another go. The dough will have no butter, the temperature will be hopefully high enough but not too high, I will give them enough time to rise and I will add boiling water to the oven right before I pop them in. Maybe I will get it right. If not, I still have half the month to try again.

Winooski River Portrait 2022

Yesterday I participated in the annual Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey. My route was the Winooski River, from Waterbury to Lake Champlain. I have surveyed this route several years now. While I did not see even one eagle, I did get to see the river in winter.

Last year the day was warm and there was much less ice. Yesterday I started with single-digit temperatures. By the time I was finished in the early afternoon the temperature was considering hitting 20, but had not yet decided.

Here is my portrait of the Winooski River for January 2022.

Close to shore, Duxbury
Under the Waterbury Winooski Street Bridge
Looking west from DeForge Hydroelectric Dam, Duxbury
Near Long Trail, Richmond
Long Trail footbridge, Richmond
From Jonesville Bridge
At Warren and Ruth Beeken Rivershore Preserve
Volunteers Green, Richmond
From Bridge near Fontaine Canoe Access, Williston
Overlook Park, Williston
Woodside Park, Essex
Bike path bridge where Winooski River ends at Lake Champlain