The fact that I only know the words “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope…” (do something, roam maybe?) from the song didn’t stop me from singing that partial phrase over and over, mostly in my head, during the two weeks that I spent in Colorado Springs, CO. I was inspired. In the truest sense of the word: “breathed into” by my surroundings. Thin mountain air with brittle edges of frost, scraggy aspens rattling golden leaves against blue sky, mountain peaks dressed demurely in nightgowns of snow. Ah, inhale.
Each morning I awoke, hummed a scrap of “Home on the Range”, and opened my window shades to this view:
By afternoon, the mountain stage had shifted some scenery for this act:
How could I not think of Gerard Manley’s Hopkin’s great poem, “God’s Grandeur”? (Big Friend groans at my overuse of Hopkins, but he wasn’t there to be inspired by the mountains, so he should just hold his criticisms.) As Hopkins intones, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; / It gathers to a greatness like the ooze of oil / Crushed.” Sing it, Hopkins.
For such Home on the Range greatness, I have my friends Matt and Heather to thank. These dear friends had the audacity to move away from our snug Pittsburgh neighborhood a few years ago, lured by the mountain’s call, but I suppose they made one right choice: they landed in a prime spot for me to call my vacation home. Little Friend and I packed our bags and headed west when Matt and Heather welcomed a new baby girl into their family. In exchange for my breath-taking view, I offered up my services as personal chef and babysitter.
Did Little Friend enjoy the mountains?
In a word, Yes.
She also enjoyed playing with her friend (the new big sister) Sarah. Or Yar-Yah, if that’s the best you can do.
The little ones weren’t the only ones having fun. Despite the sleepless nights, inevitable diaper blowouts, and never ending cycles of laundry, the big people in the house managed to squeeze in some fun as well. After perusing Matt’s ample wine cellar, I proposed a wine tasting night (or two).
That’s an idea we could all toast to.
Two-thirds of us made wise choices and selected Optimist as our favorite. I’d tell you that Matt was the only one with such execrable taste as to choose Yellowtail as the top contender, but that would just embarrass him too much. Suffice it to say, one-third of us chose unwisely.
Between the wine, the delighted shrieks of toddlers, and the warmth of a newborn snoozing in my arms, with Matt, Heather, Sarah, and Baby Rachel around, I would have felt right at home, even without the continual glimpses of mountain ranges.
Turns out, there’s some poetry lurking in “Home on the Range” after all. Not Hopkins-level poetry, mind you, but something better than my rather inadequate refrain of “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope…” (do something, roam maybe?). My thanks go out to Dr. Brewster M. Higley for penning these lines in 1876:
Cheers! to that, Dr. Higley.
The Meal Plan
The following meal plan covers two weeks and consists of meals perfect for a household with a new baby: hearty, wholesome, comfortable. This was my Colorado Springs’ game plan: make meals that are easy to prepare (aka, start to finish during toddler naptime) and which have plenty of leftovers to freeze for future use (or pop in the microwave for easy lunches). What’s a better gift for a new mom than a freezer stocked full of homemade meals?
Monday: Tomato Pesto Salmon, compliments of Kalyn’s Kitchen
Tuesday: Chili and buttermilk corn bread
Wednesday: Rachael Ray’s Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Thursday: Breakfast for dinner
Friday: Real Simple’s Steak Fajitas
Saturday: Wegman’s Pasta Fagioli with Spinach
Sunday: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with sweet potato fries
Monday: Rachael Ray’s Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Tuesday: Fruit, Cheese, and Popcorn buffet
Wednesday: Overnight Caramel French Toast from Taste of Home
Thursday: Shrimp Scampi and roasted acorn squash
Friday: Make Your Own Pizza, Smitten Kitchen style
Saturday: Nourished Kitchen’s Sole Meuniere with steamed broccoli
Sunday: Chicken Parmesan