Monday, August 28, 2006

Greetings from the land of Magic and Fairies and White Heather and Skies that blaze orange in the night and mists that roll in with the dawn. Great Greetings.

Johanna and Natalia have been with us for the past two weeks so we've been busy biking and walking and site seeing, shopping, dining, visiting Edinburgh and various castles and miscellaneous this and that, but not blogging.

However,after saying goodbye to Johanna (who left us on Saturday) and sending Sir Paul off to work this morning, the house is quiet and I am left with the remnants of likely what was the most enchanted, wondrous, extraordinary, unprecedented evening of my life. Could it be? Well, yes because this is Garinpark where the days are simply remarkable, each and every one.

You know, it's quite entertaining for me to look back over the past two years, for a number of reasons, the most notable that I find life so damned entertaining, but to remember, especially, with great sentiment and endearment looking out over the Sag Paneer and the Naan bread, the red wine and the candlelight of my first date with Paul, looking across the table at the face of someone who humbly told me of his profession and his hobbies and his life in California, and then after several hours of these pleasant exchanges to come away from the evening and make my way home, to settle into sleep without the slightest indication that sitting across from me that night was a man who was raised at the edge of the woods, in a Polish home, on the wings of a sprite, in the birthplace of mythology, born to Henry and Rose Kieniewicz, the fortunate son who was taught how to identify an edible mushroom before he was taught how to read or write. Now, if you're like me, accustomed to buying your mushrooms at the market, then mushrooms for most of us I think I can confidently claim don't have any more or less appeal than the green bean or the crown of broccoli. Well, perhaps a bit more if you're seriously interested in cooking and a recipe might call for a dried Shitake or a Porcini here and there, but we don't know where they come from exactly, at least I never gave it much thought - mushrooms, that is, I just presumed someone could tell the good ones from the "Huxley" or the psychedelic variety. And I never believed that my cooking could improve or discover such new vistas, if you will, not because I'm so great a cook and there wouldn't be room for improvement, but because I think one arrives at a certain age and says, "Well, this is good enough" not expecting to become any better - and it's not really better what's happened to my cooking, as much as that my cooking has become more soulful, deeply so, closer to nature and now it can boast of an entirely new culinary experience, one born out of pure, unadulterated synchronicity.

Even though my budding knowledge of mushrooms has been most intriguing and I watch the skies for rain and tag along in the woods with Sir Paul, bag in hand, hunting for this delicacy, nothing, not even my familiarity with the Kieniewicz family and its "mushroom anecdotes", which, by the way, are in abundance and quite funny, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw in the back seat of the car when Paul returned to Garinpark last night from ColdHome or the North Country as we call it. (The Ashton & Co. Estate - there, Sir Charles, I didn't call it a farm!)

But I have to tell you about the morning before I can tell you about Paul coming home from the north...

We decided to take a bike ride to the woods near Benview and hunt for mushrooms there. Paul had been successful on his ride the day before with Johanna and wanted to return for more. On the way, we noticed in the field alongside us a pile of muck (manure) and a farmer on a tractor on his way back from feeding his cattle. We followed him into his drive because Paul needs dung for the garden and thought it would not only be a good opportunity to procure this priceless commodity then and there, but to meet a neighbor as well.

After an hour with Brian, a very challenging hour, as Brian is an extreme extrovert - yes, even moreso than me. (Big surprise). But after a successful hour, two invitations, one to a Guy Fox bonfire (Paul will have to blog about that)to meet the neighbors, another to a Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee), to dance, Paul managed to negotiate a pile of dung in exchange for a bottle of whisky. Then it was off to the woods where we discovered fields of chantrelles among the birch and the moss.
I went off to buy the whisky for Brian who indicated that he might stop by in the late afternoon on his tractor, which, in fact, he did. Now, Brian not only likes to talk, but he likes gin as well. A lot of gin. Anyway, there I was, busy making bread, listening to music and cleaning the chantrelles from the morning pick when I heard the roar of the tractor coming up the gravel drive and there was Brian with the pile of muck. Typical of me, even the delivery of a pile of shit excites me, I suppose because I know that from this will grow our cabbages and kings and stories and soup, the list is endless, so, yes, I was excited and insisted Brian take off his wellies at the door, come in and have a drink while I cleaned the mushrooms.

And that he did. And he drank and he drank and his tales were becoming a bit woeful and his accent was incomprehensible - he might as well have been speaking Greek and then, fortunately, Sir Paul came bounding through the door with a look that I recognize now immediately, a look of "I have something to show you and I want to show you now but I can't because Brian is here." That look. And Brian stayed and his stories got a wee bit darker until finally, though I'm not sure how, we managed to cheerfully bid adieu and get on to the business of what was in the car.

In a race to the back door, Paul opened the car and in my life I've never seen such a vision, which hopefully he will describe to you at some future point how they appeared in the woods but all I can say is that in the back seat of a car they looked more like passengers, not mushrooms.

We feasted like elfin royalty on boletus, spinach and freshly caught salmon. Red wine and does it get any better?

At the request of dear friends, I have taken pictures of the house, the outside and the inside and, of course, the magic of last night. When I'm talking to you on the phone, these views are what I'm looking at. Also, there's a picture of me holding a bunch of the picture just before it, Paul is reaching into the brook to pick the watercress for me, like a bunch of wildflowers - imagine, watercress growing in the wild, apple trees outside the kitchen window, and the mystery of the woods a bike ride away and this is only August and I've only been here three months now...imagine that.

Missing you all. Love, Amber


mushrooms! i want some mushrooms!
I protest !!!!
there is no update?
has the chill in the air driven you both to huddle together savoring mouthwatering mushrooms???
come on vagabond & gypy wife - touch base so we really believe you are both setteling in and the wonder lust of soul travel has not swept you two + Ed + Shirley off to all points of the world !!!
all my best to everyone xox Mee
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