The Harbor Walk was beautiful yesterday morning at dawn after the first significant snowfall, with a deceptively warm-appearing orange sherbet sunrise. Despite frozen fingers and toes, I couldn’t help but feel blessed by the beauty that surrounds.
Several weeks ago I posted experiments taken with the new Fujifilm X-E1 multiple exposure setting. I really like this feature although I received some flack from a photographer friend reminding me that double exposures can be created in Photoshop. Of course I know that, I just like the immediacy of composing in the camera and in the moment and think the feeling that is achieved is reminiscent of accidental effects in film photography. These photos were all shot in very low light indoors and I am looking forward to playing more with this feature outdoors on a warm sunny spring day, with butterflies and other living creatures for muses, rather than imaginative Christmas fairies!
Click photos to view images full size.
Last week Craig Kimberley spent a morning editing and assisting me with my Black Swallowtail film project. It’s been great getting to know Craig and I am feeling very blessed that he is interested in working on my project. Because of his knowledge and expertise, I know my film is going to be more beautiful than ever I imagined. Thank you Craig.
Hannah and Craig Kimberley and John McElhenny
Good Morning Gloucester contributor Craig moved to Gloucester nearly a year ago. His beautiful wife Hannah followed six months later as she was finishing her doctoral degree in English from Old Dominion University in Virginia. Hannah was just recently hired for her first professional writing job.
Craig is a freelance Director, DP, and Editor. He is currently working on Trev Gowdy’s Monster Fish on the Outdoor Channel as the Director, Editor, and Director of Photography. He is also currently creating a cooking show starring Tony Carbone. This is Craig and Hannah’s first Christmas in Gloucester together. Welcome!
To read more about Craig and see several of the great videos he has shot for Good Morning Gloucester ~
Orange Wine and Tapenade
Making Christmas cakes and orange wine and wrapping, and more wrapping–getting my boxes ready to ship to family and out-of-town friends. I hope their gifts arrive before Christmas! Too much Christmas-making to write a brand new post. Orange wine is one of my favorite recipes to prepare at this time of year and I posted this same recipe last year. Try it. I guarantee, you will not be disappointed. My daughter loves orange wine and during the holidays I also make another of her favorites, which is tapenade (so easy) and the two pair beautifully. Spread a thin layer of tapenade on home-baked crostini and serve with orange wine before dinner.
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
6 anchovy fillets, cleaned, rinsed, and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil (more may be needed)
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped basil
Place all ingredients, except for the basil, in the blender and blend on high speed for a few seconds. Push down with a spatula and add more oil if too think. Pour into a bowl and check seasonings; if too salty add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Add basil and cover. Will keep for approximately ten days.*
Crostini ~ Slice thinly on the diagonal best quality French or Italian bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake in 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes. Flip the bread slices and drizzle a tiny bit more olive oil and salt and bake an additional 3-4 minutes. Optional, add a very slight sprinkling of freshly grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese, after flipping, and prior to baking the second time.
Orange infused wine, or vin d’orange, is a warm weather Provençal aperitif, but I never remember to make it during the summer months, only during the holidays. Although, when drinking it, I like to imagine sipping orange wine from a garden somewhere (anywhere!) along the Côte-d’Azure. Vin d’orange is marvelously easy to prepare and makes a much appreciated holiday host/hostess gift.
Over the years I’ve experimented with the original recipe, which was, to my way of thinking, much too sweet—add more sugar if you like a sweeter aperitif. I think you will find this concoction intoxicatingly fun, light, and aromatic. I hope your family and friends enjoy as much as do mine!
12-15 Clementines thoroughly washed and cut in half
3 bottles modestly priced dry white wine
1 Cup sugar
½ Cup Courvoisier
Long strips of orange zest
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl combine the wine and Clementines, gently squeezing each half to release some of the juice. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 5 days. Save the empty wine bottles and corks; wash and remove labels. You will need a fourth empty bottle.
Remove orange infused wine from the refrigerator and squeeze any liquid remaining in the orange halves into the large bowl. Discard oranges. Add the sugar and cognac, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Pour wine concoction into wine bottles. Insert a strip of the zest into each bottle and cork. Chill the wine for one week. Serve neat or over ice. The vin d’orange will keep for 6 months when chilled. Makes approximately 4 bottles.
*The tapenade recipe is based on Mirelle Johnson’s classic Provençal cookbook, The Cuisine of the Sun (Random House)
JoeAnn Hart is the author of the novels Addled and the forthcoming Float (Ashland Creek Press, February 2013). Float, set in coastal New England, involves the fishing industry, conceptual art, jellyfish, marital woes, and plastics in the ocean.
Folklore has it that Niles Pond was once in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the closest body of fresh water to the ocean, but I can’t verify it. No matter. Not only does it seem true, but as with other Guinness records, such as the heaviest weight lifted by tongue (27.5 lbs.), it also seems impossible. Yet there it is. This 38 acre pond is separated from the salty Atlantic by a causeway just wide enough for a footpath. There is Niles on one side, neatly defined and calm, and on the other, the pounding surf of Brace Cove. To stand between the two is to feel washed in conflicting emotions. I walk this route with Daisy, my fuzzy mutt who believes herself to be a famed hunter of ducks and likes to splash into the dark pond up to her sternum to stir them up.
Niles is named after the farmer who once owned Eastern Point, the small spit of Gloucester land where I live. Of the many unique features of the intertwined land and waterscapes here, Niles is nature’s odd duck. It is a Massachusetts Great Pond, meaning that it is like a Common, where citizens have the right to graze their sheep, except this Common is made of water. Instead of grazing, it is reserved for hunting, fishing, ice-making, and recreation. Duck hunting is no longer feasible because of all the homes built up along the shore, and fishing is also a moot point because the perch have been eaten by the snapping turtles. As for ice, Cape Pond Ice (“the coolest guys in town”) churns it out for the fishing boats these days. That leaves recreation. I’ve never seen anyone but Daisy swim in the pond, what with those snappers, but there are skaters when there is ice. There was no ice last winter, speaking of breaking records, but that is a topic for another time. The point is, Niles is left mostly in the hands of wildlife, as nature intended.
Phragmites at Niles
But what does nature intend? Does it intend for the pond to be choked by phragmites, the feathery reed that is prowling along the perimeter? In geologic time, Niles was once part of the ocean, an extension of Brace Cove. Over the years, rocks rolled to shore, sand accumulated, and the dune got higher until one day it was shut off from the sea. A natural spring bubbled up and slowly replaced the salt water with fresh. In the 1830’s, sensing that the ocean might want to stake a claim again, Farmer Niles reinforced the 400-foot dune with granite to preserve the pond for ice-cutting and “ornament.” It remains a prime resting place for migratory seabirds, and a source of fresh water for the stealthy mammals of the land, including fisher cats and raccoons. At any given time, grebes, cormorants, and ducks float on the surface, while herons and egrets stand around on one leg pretending to be reeds. The mute swans are probably a human introduction, but they are hardly mute. They hiss and snort and otherwise act aggressively because people feed them, which confuses wild animals and makes them testy. That, and the fact that the turtles pull their cygnets from below and eat them. But the phragmites are more aggressive than either swan or snapper.
According to Fish and Wildlife, non-native phragmites appeared in coastal ports in the eastern United States in the 19th century, probably as seeds clinging to the hulls of ships. Maybe humankind’s natural purpose on earth is to help immobile species move around the globe. It is hard to figure out where we fit in, but in this aspect, we’ve succeeded. The rapid spread of phragmites in the 20thcentury is attributed to habitat disturbance and eutrophication. Raise your hand if you know what that is. It’s over fertilization from the nitrates from lawn fertilizers and phosphates in laundry detergent seeping into the pond. Phragmites are usually an indicator of a wetlands system out of balance. Well, aren’t we all?
Daisy on the path
Niles Pond wants to grow up to be Niles Marsh. Humans want it to stay a pond, as, I’m sure, do those migratory seabirds. A group of residents is working to have the phragmites dredged. But they’re tenacious plants, with stolons like bullwhips. The upside of this tenacity is that they might hold the earth in place when the Atlantic comes calling for the pond. But, again, that is a topic for another time.
Mallards and Cormorants
Daisy and I do not think of all this when we walk. Her mind is on ducks, mine on “ornament.” It’s particularly hard getting out of the house this time of year. I have to leave unfinished work behind in order to beat the early-setting sun, but Daisy and I need the exercise and the mental cleansing. When we get to the causeway, she scrambles down the steep bank of Farmer Niles’ stones in search of her ducks, while I, shedding myself of the day’s challenges, walk that narrow path between internal calm and unleashed energy.
Sunset at Niles
Reblogged from Newfound, the online journal about place for which JoeAnn is a monthly contributor.
I truly wish I could give each and everyone of you who wrote your thoughtful and cherished comments a copy of Oh Garden. Thank you.
Warmest wishes for a joy-filled holiday season and many thanks again for your participation.
Native Pink Flowering Dogwood ~ Cornus flordia rubra
While writing Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! I would often come across what seemed at the time random information, but would jot it down anyhow hoping that it would find its way into the pages of my book. The following excerpt was found within a display of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) porcelain at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore where I was researching Chinese flower and bird painting. I laughed out loud when reading and it makes me smile with every subsequent read but wonder if it is only funny to we flower- lovers.
Enjoying flowers with tea is the best, enjoying them with conversation the second and enjoying them with wine the least. Feasts and all sorts of vulgar language are most deeply detested and resented by the spirit of the flowers. It is better to keep the mouth shut and sit still than to offend the flowers.
—from a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) treatise on flowers Walters Art Museum
The idea that flowers can be offended by bad manners reflects the belief that the world we inhabit is an organism in which all phenomena interrelate. By the same reasoning, someone who drinks tea from a peach- shaped pot will live longer (peaches symbolize longevity), and someone who dips his writing brush in a peony-shaped bowl will have good fortune, as the peony is a metaphor for success and wealth. The love of flowers was and continues to be a passion among the Chinese and trees and plants are genuinely loved as living creatures.
To win a free copy of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities ! Notes from a Gloucester Garden leave a comment or see yesterday’s post about the Magnolia virginiana.