December Musings

Another Wisconsin deer hunt has passed, and I am free (more or less) to roam in the woods again.  

When I was a kid, stories of deer hunting scared me to death.  My friends told stories of older relatives drunk off their butts and running around the woods shooting repeatedly at something that looked like a deer. Sounded like chaos to me.  Deer hunting in Wisconsin has become statistically much safer, if not safe.  

There were only eight "incidents" this year with the one fatality being self-inflicted.  A couple of elk were accidentally shot.  An elk is much, much larger than a deer, but apparently two people thought they were shooting the biggest whitetail doe ever. 

The most concerning incident to me is that a young woman hiker was shot in the thigh on the Ice Age Trail.  The hunter thought she was a deer.  These are the events that keep me indoors during the main gun deer season. 

This week I was back at Gibraltar Rock.  Between the cold morning and people slow to return to the woods after deer season, the trail and parking lots were completely empty during this week's hike there.

This is actually one of my favorite times of year to hike.  Overnight freezing temperatures firm up the ground without making it slippery. Most of the casual hikers don't venture out and don't know what they're missing.


At home, we started and finished a new reading project.  Justin was talking about something he heard about life in Siberia.  I suggested that he read "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Justin isn't a big recreational reader, so we took it on as a family project.  Each night, Julia, Justin and I would take turns reading six pages aloud.  It took about a little over a month with a few days off.  

For those not familiar with the book, it's a novel based upon Solzhenitsyn's own work camp experiences in Siberia.  It focuses upon exactly one day from eyes open to eyes closed.  I read the book in high school under the careful scrutiny of my social studies teacher, Mrs. Ivonavitch, but I think I got a lot more out of it now as a voluntary read.  

It's a good book for the pandemic because the main character's focus is just on surviving in very difficult conditions.  There's absolutely nothing anyone would call exciting going on in the main character's life.  Just completing ordinary tasks becomes an exceptional challenge.  A crust of bread, thin fish soup with bones, laying brick, a fellow prisoner's bit of tobacco.  These were the subjects for our daily read.  

After finishing a book like that, one can't help but re-examine the small tasks that form the routines of daily life.  This week, I focused on making fried eggs in a new way.  My daughter and I love eggs over easy.  Juicy yolks for toast dipping.   Flipping the egg is the big moment.  A broken yolk means no yolk for dipping.  

Somewhere in my internet readings, I came across a French chef's video explaining how he fried an egg.  He casually melted a little butter in a pan.  Turned the heat to low.  Cracked the eggs into the pan.  Flicked a few drops of water across the eggs and covered with a lid.  The water turns to steam and helps to cook the tops of the yolks.  When there's barely a thin white membrane covering the yellow yolks, it's time to easily slide the eggs from the pan to the plate without need for a flip.

The result is a soft rounded white and a never-broken juicy yolk.

Simple Breakfast--Improved

Speaking of Allie, she is settling into her new San Francisco sublet apartment and making us all jealous with photos from sunrise walks before work.



  1. As a kid I used to lay in bed and get cold-sweats thinking that I could have been born in Russia.

    I'm not a fan of runny eggs. At basic training I quickly learned to ask for my eggs scrambled, which simply meant that after sliding the pre-broke eggs onto the griddle they savaged them with the spatula. They were never fully cooked but a whole lot more cooked than the sunny-side or easy-over guys! Now I just fry the cubed potatoes in the cast-iron until they are done, shove them to the high side (The Van is never truly level, probably because I don't bother.) turn the flame off and crack in a couple eggs. Bust them up with a fork and leave them to "cook" until done, then eat right out of the pan. - You might have guessed I'm not too picky about food - - -

    I too like hiking when the weather is not ideal. Just covered about 50 miles of former ranch land on foot over 4 days and saw a total of three other people. Maybe because the thermometer on the bird-blind I went by on my way to the trails every morning said 20 degrees several times.

    I also found out my phone has a thermometer. Won't tell me what the temp is but it sure wasn't shy about telling me, as it shut itself off at 0330 one morning when the temp inside The Van hit 31, that it was either too cold or too hot for it to keep functioning. I'm guessing too cold- - -

  2. I've been reading with some jealousy about your recent backpacking trips. Living on trail food for five months during my thru hike, I wasn't able to be choosy about food either. I've always done most of the cooking at home and enjoy diverse flavors--many of which I've learned about during my travels.

    We were never allowed to be fussy about food when I was growing up. It was always "clean your plate" before leaving the table. And that was a challenge sometimes. I remember my mother cooking liver once each week. One day, she served the liver sprinkled with wheat germ. I managed to choke that down, but my brother faked getting sick to get out of that particular dish.


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