The leaves are gone; now blanketed under snow. The woods, which up to a couple weeks ago were obscured with orange and red leaves, are barren. Exposed trunks stand at attention, limbs reaching skyward. The gray steely sky seems colder amidst the nakedness. I zip my jacket to my neck and briskly walk along the fence line that separates the pasture from the woods. My dog zigzags back and forth across the field, obviously picking up the scent of deer that feed here. As the shrouded sun drops closer to the southwest horizon, the sky turns pink as if there’s a fire deep in the woods. The pond, with thin ice around the edge, assumes the sky’s color. For a moment I stand in awe, but darkness isn’t far behind. Whistling at the dog, I turn toward home, crossing the dam cutting across the field. Darkness descends quickly and we speed up. The warm light shining through the windows of distant houses look warm and inviting. As I get closer to the neighborhood, the rich aroma of a wood smoke from a neighbor’s fireplace awakens my senses. Before going in, I stop by the woodpile and pick up an armload for the evening, making sure I have a few pieces of split cherry. Thirty minutes later, I sit on the floor in front of a blazing fire sipping on a hot-buttered rum. My dog comes over and plops himself on top of the book I’d planned to read. He lays his head in my lap and I scratch his ears. All is well.
Hot Buttered Rum
(This is my only mixed drink recipe, normally I take my spirits on the rocks, but this is good on a cold winter evening and especially after skiing. Like most of my cooking, the recipe is only an approximation)
Mix: (prepare at the beginning of the season and freeze)
Quart of Ice Cream (invest in some good stuff)
Pound of real butter (not margarine)
Pound of light brown sugar
Soften ice cream and let butter take on room temperature. Mix together and add nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Place in a sealed freezer container.
To fix a drink: Place two tablespoon or so of the mix into a mug. Add boiling water, then a shot of rum, and top off with whip cream and a stick of cinnamon (serves as the stirring stick). Sit back and relax.