We’re in the quietest time of year for local events, with most everyone involved in the holidays, family get-togethers and vacations. The Whallonsburg Grange won’t have much going on until the middle of January, but then, like the light returning after a long dark spell, things start to happen. The film society comes out of hibernation with new features, and an ambitious lecture series is planned on local agriculture. Details will be following.
At our house, I’m responsible for producing most of the dinners, a long standing arrangement that works for us. I tend to avoid the roast turkey or beef rib roast sort of holiday dinner, just because they’re so familiar, but this year I’m in a quandary. The traditional route pleases our guests, fills the house with great aromas, and makes for excellent leftovers, but my inner chef wants to try something more exotic. Going into terra incognita has its risks, and failure can lead to accusations of willfully messing up Christmas and long-term culinary shame. Writing this out leads me to one answer: pork roast. It’s not your usual, but is nearly universally loved, and can be very festive with a well matched fruit sauce and yummy sides. There, that solves that.
Except for a lot more hawks, I haven’t seen much activity in the woods. Black bears are hibernating right now, having spent the early part of the fall putting on weight. They eat up to 20,000 calories a day and then find a den, although in mild winters they can become active. Hibernation is how they get through the time of year when food’s least available. On Split Rock Mountain, the local timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are deep underground in rocky clefts, all balled together in masses of snakes, sort of like Medusa’s hair. Ospreys and bald eagles are happy as long as there is open water to fish in, so they’re still around. Although I haven’t heard them in several weeks, coyotes are roaming around in packs. They usually announce themselves with hair-raising screams guaranteed to interrupt any good night’s sleep.