Another Day in the Country
Give us our daily bread
© Another Day in the Country
In a couple of days, I’ll be flying home to Kansas. However, this morning, our resident hawk is on the prowl.
His family has lived in our California backyard forever. We never paid hawks much mind until we got chickens.
I wonder what kind of hawk he is. In Kansas, we have red-tailed hawks that patrol country roads. This bird is golden.
I googled it and think it is a red-shouldered hawk. It seems to me it should be called a golden hawk because his breast is gold as he preens himself in the early morning sun, cleaning his talons with his sharp beak, ruffling his feathers, acting nonchalant.
Is he as big as one of our hens, I ask myself, and I don’t think so. Maybe those fat cluckers of ours are not in such imminent danger as we surmised from this golden bird perched high overhead in a sea pine. It’s difficult to gauge dimensions from where I sit at a table.
The table! After a 20-year absence, we now have a real round table in this California house. We can sit at the table on a variety of perches — the new chairs are on back order, fouled by the supply chain, something we barely contemplated before the pandemic.
I take for granted this sitting-together-at-a-table business because, every meal, every day, back in Kansas finds me sitting at Aunt Anna’s old, splintery round table that I keep covered with a cloth to ensure it’s user-friendly.
My only digression is breakfast on the porch swing when the house gets too quiet and the weather is warm — warmer than it is here in California and warmer than I assume it is in Ramona.
Did you know that these two diverse, very far from each other places on the map often are at the same temperature? I’m talking about Northern California, specifically Angwin, and north-central Kansas, specifically Ramona.
This unusual piece of information was told to me by a former electric company employee who not only quickly hooked up power to the Ramona house 30 years ago but also told me I’d be pleasantly surprised to find that weather in Ramona was similar to temperatures where I’d just come from and that it was a “best kept secret,” as he put it, so that a horde of people wouldn’t move here.
“Bungeoppang” is the name of the pastry that my daughter made for breakfast yesterday.
She was trying out a pastry fryer (sort of like a fish-shaped waffle iron) that she got from her husband for Christmas.
You drop a spoonful of Nutella (yum) or sweet bean paste (yuck) into the fat part of this fish filled with batter and cover it with more batter. They are good!
This train of thought sent me to remembering that “pan” is a Spanish word for bread that I’ve learned in my Duolingo Spanish class.
“Bung,” Richard tells me, is just plain bread in Korean. And “bolleo” is the name of little loaves of Italian bread that I buy at a bakery when they are fresh.
“This will be a learning curve,” Jana said as she began to make batter for the fish shaped goodies. “Does anyone besides Auntie Jess sift their dry ingredients when baking?”
My daughter follows in my footsteps. I measure, but it’s more dump and stir, pragmatic baking.
“It’s the expedited way to cook,” Jana says. “I have the same style as you, Mom. No messing around, and we get results!”
My day begins and ends in the dark when I’m in California. This household is big on saving electricity — no such thing as lamps burning in a room or even a hallway that is not currently occupied.
This means that while Richard is in the living room playing a game on the TV, my grandson is in his room with the only light coming from his computer screen, and I decide to leave my room, dutifully turning off the light.
I walk in darkness, feeling the walls like a blind man, until I get to a kitchen switch.
In Ramona, when I walk through my house turning off lights before I go to bed, there’s probably 8 or 9 clicks as lamps go off — kitchen, dining table, living room, porch light, office, and hallway.
Even if I neglected leaving a light on in my bedroom so I can follow the light to bed, there’s a street light shining in the window from the corner of 5th and E Sts. lighting my way. There are no street lights in Angwin.
In Ramona, my day starts with daylight streaming in my windows. In California, my day begins like it ended — in pitch darkness.
I hear Richard’s quick footsteps on the floor as he heads for the only bathroom in the house. Within a few minutes, I hear him start his motorcycle, and then he’s gone.
Dawn has not yet come. This morning, there was silence, then the front door opened again, (he’d forgotten something). His quick steps went down the hall and back as I strained my ears.
Could I hear the bike motor? Yes, he must have parked at the end of the driveway.
The front door closes again with a very familiar click that I’ve recognized in the silence of this house for 50 years. And Richard is “gone down the hill,” as we say, to work.
The house is quiet again, with only the furnace kicking on and off — too quickly, I think to myself. That thermostat needs to be adjusted, but who am I to second-guess this furnace that’s been chugging along in this house since 1970?
Another day has begun. Soon, I’ll hear Jana get up, walk down the hall to the kitchen, and turn on the electric tea kettle.
When she hears me stir, she’ll call out, “There’s coffee, Mom.”
Hillsboro city administrator Matt Stiles’s name was misspelled in one reference in the Jan. 4 issue.