Think back to your high school years for a bit. It was a simple time especially if they were enjoyed in small town America. It was a beautiful time in our lives, with little to worry about in my day unless you had drawn a low number in the lottery, guaranteeing an extended vacation in Southeast Asia. High School athletics, an occasional bon-fire, an incessant run of movies in run down movie houses were the norm. If you were a woodsman or waterman, Missouri was your huckleberry. We had little concept of time, naively believing we were immortal, and that life was easy. The truth is that most of us did not see life coming.
The pandemic has altered our existence. We have been forced into a lifestyle that is predictable and challenging. For many of us, this time out in life has taken a year or so from us when our inventory of years is low and exceedingly precious. Sharon and I have ventured out a bit. We are gastronomes and make no apology. We have found a number of new eateries that have not disappointed, and more than a few that have seen our shadow for the last time. I am married to an incessant shopper who can remember the price of the same pair of jeans in ten outlets. She is capable of finding a sale rack during a hurricane induced power outage. We are venturing out again where she is sharpening those skills. So, like cicadas emerging from their shells we are slowly returning to “normal”. It should come as no surprise that a week or so ago, Sharon suggested we take a class where we learn to arrange a charcuterie display on a aptly named charcuterie board that we had burned a design into. We gathered at the Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium’s Great Barrier Reef display, at tables for two, where we were instructed by a couple of charcuterie chefs and the resident wood burning authority. It was the classic date; something new, a glass or two of Moscato, a sanded white pine board and an assortment of the kinds of healthy eats that go into this style of French table fare. We were kids again, laughing at our (my) lack of artistic skills, in a setting that was gorgeous.
My board was totally unimpressive. I burned “Ozark Life”, within a heart, into the corner of the board, while the resident elementary teacher/administrator demonstrated her skill as she burned “The Taz M’Haul” (the name of our RV) and a paw print into hers. (I’ll get even with this beat down on the pistol range later.) These folks then gather your boards, sand them and put some sort of beautiful, food acceptable, finish on them and return them to you. This is all done after the food arrangement class with the provided meats, cheeses, fruits and veggies. Like the ragged old teddy bear you won throwing your arm out at weighted milk bottles, these boards are trophies and will be around a long time.
We learned some things. First, it is still possible to take leave of your senses and dispense with the challenges that our world presents. We also learned that a fused index finger and a burning tool are not compatible. I did not burn myself, however; my normally suspect penmanship became a form of hieroglyphics, strangely intriguing but somewhat appalling. Like a Roman Gladiator, I got in the ring and gave it a go, even if I held the tool like the ripper held a knife. We learned that an arrangement of mustards, select jams, fruits, dips, breads and vegetables with an assortment of meats spiced to different tastes is a welcome departure from fried, baked or boiled. Finally, we learned that a night without a screen that runs on electricity or requires batteries can be both soothing to the soul and delightful. I almost passed on this opportunity a week ago when Sharon suggested it. I am super glad I did not. Everything is life is NOT deadly serious, however; time together is.
Have a great weekend!