Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Wing and a Prayer

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

This time it was an oddly-striped finch that caught my attention, perched on the feeder outside my office window. The bird has thick bands of orange on either side of his pecan-sized head and looks like he is wearing one of those tear-shaped fiberglass  bicycle helmets.

Never mind the dozens of goldfinches fluttering about or the bold crowns of the Pine Siskin, it is the odd bird, the rarely-seen-in-these-parts critter that gets the most notice. It is this uncommon sight that gives me pause.

Isn't that the way it is with birdwatching? It's not the everyday bird that draws enthusiasts to bogs and barrens with their binoculars and field guides.

More than 60 million Americans feed and watch birds. Many do this in their backyards, but many are willing to travel great distances and endure physical discomfort to participate in the activity called "birdwatching." Recently ranked with other American recreations, birdwatching placed second ahead of gardening.

Continued at... A Wing and a Prayer.

Rural Delivery
Artwork: Birdwatchers Retreat by Janet Kruskamp.
Outrider Reading Group
The Nature Pages

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Cast Iron Skillet

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved.

Next to barns and old tractors, the most distinctive artifact of the old-style American family farm is the cast iron skillet. There was a time before the aluminization of cooking utensils that these skillets could be found in almost every rural kitchen. These days, they're not so common.

You can find cast iron utensils at hardware stores, kitchen supply shops and some grocers, of course, but no new skillet measures up to a well used one. Like fine wines, these culinary implements get better with age.

A well seasoned skillet with decades of experience producing hundreds of batches of corn bread and fried chicken is practically priceless. My wife recently found one with a shiny black patina in an antique shop and presented it to me on Father's Day. What a prize!.

Continued at... The Cast Iron Skillet.

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Kitchen Supply
Artwork: Cast Iron Skillet.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Privy to Privies

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1993. All rights reserved.

Live long enough and many of the everyday skills and experiences you take for granted become virtually obsolete, like operating a manual transmission or dialing a rotary phone.
Outhouses are like that. You don't see many privies any more, even on the most remote farmsteads, and few folks can claim to have sat in one.

I'm not talking about those industrial "Johnny-on-the-Jobsite" rental toilets or even the Forest Service's government-issue campground restrooms. True outhouses are homebuilt wood-plank structures with personalized features like crescent moons cut into the door or a shelf for the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Continued at... Privy to Privies.

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Morning Commute by Billy Jacobs.