I had forgotten how dark, how quiet, and how peaceful it is to be out in the woods. The pleasure of being temporarily disconnected from things that beep, light up, or plug-in, is an added bonus. For many years we took a yearly trip to the national parks with my parents and sister. After joining us on a trip to Sequoia, we quickly realized the benefits of having that kind of family time together, there were few distractions, lots of unstructured activity, and no fixed schedules. My parents and sister were troopers and year after year they drove up treacherous mountain roads, participated in nature walks, attended the evening ranger talks, and stayed in places that were not particularly luxurious. During those trips my parents often shared their own memories of going to the woods in Poland before the war. My mother talked about the delicious mushrooms that she picked and dried, to be used in soups all year long. My father spoke about the gypsies that came through each year, setting up camp in the woods, entertaining the locals with their small circus act. Those trips were definitely planned by Norm, who always insisted that we start at the visitor center and who always left the parks with a patch that he planned to sew on a wool blanket one day.
This past weekend we went camping for the first time in many years. I loved every minute of it and on Sunday morning when I knew that we would have to pack up and leave, I stayed in our small two-person tent as long as I could. It had rained the night before and I was enjoying that cozy feeling of being warm and comfortable in a very small space. Eventually I got up and walked out into the crisp morning air, and there stood Norm, still a Boy Scout at heart, slowly stirring a pot of grits, frying up eggs, making fresh coffee, and buttering up the toast. When we came home, I was still thinking about all those past trips that we had taken with our children and parents and realized that something was missing. This time Norm forgot to buy a patch. I guess we’ll have to go back soon.
1 cup Falls Mill White Corn Grits.
1 Tb sweet butter
dash of salt
8 oz. sharp grated sharp cheddar cheese
Place grits in bowl and cover with water, and stir so light bran will rise to the top. Carefully pour off water and light bran. In the meantime bring 2 cups of water to a boil with 1 Tb butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Add grits and reduce heat to low, cover pot and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Grits should be thick and creamy. Add cheese, ground pepper, and a little milk if needed. Serves 4