Feb 20 2014
After three days on a little river that was forever winding its way between steep, wooded hills, my friend Roxy and I were rewarded by a broad vista of open water just ahead. But our rapture was somewhat modified when we saw the whitecaps on the lake. We’d been out of the Old Woman‘s reach when we were on the river, but now we’d have no protection from her wrath. And sure enough, for the next few hours we paddled for all we were worth, pausing only to bail whenever the water sloshing around in the bilge of our canoe threatened to roll us over.
Happily, our luck held, and at long last we found shelter on a public beach in the lee of a sandy spit. Another hour would bring us to the campsite where my Jeep was parked, but we were both too exhausted to continue. We needed a break before we’d be ready to push on. And we needed something for dinner. Our pantry was nearly bare. We still had one can of beef stew, but we were tired of mushy tinned stuff. We wanted something we could get our teeth into. We wanted vegetables — firm, fresh‑tasting vegetables. So while Roxy stayed behind to keep an eye on our boat and gear, I laced up my boots and hiked into the nearby hamlet, hoping to find a store.
Luck still hadn’t deserted us. There was a general store in the little town, and it sold more than the usual tourist fodder of hot dogs, beer, and Cheetos, though there wasn’t much in the way of fresh vegetables. I did find a head of iceberg lettuce and an onion, however. And when I saw the freezer, with its treasure trove of frozen peas, mixed vegetables, and french fries, I didn’t hesitate. I grabbed a waxed carton of peas — bagged vegetables were still a rarity outside big‑city supermarkets in those days — and headed for the cash register, stopping just long enough to pluck a half‑dozen eggs from an adjacent cooler.
By the time I’d retraced my steps to our landing place on the beach, Roxy was rested and ready to go. And wonder of wonders, the Old Woman had moved on. The whitecaps had subsided into ripples. So there wasn’t a minute to be lost. Into the boat we went, and in less than an hour my Jeep came into view. Now it was time to make supper. I sautéed chopped onion in a skillet with melted butter, then added the by now partially thawed peas, and when these were hot, I scrambled two eggs in the same pan. (I saved the four remaining eggs for breakfast.) We ate right out of the skillet, wrapping our egg‑and‑pea “omelets” in leaves torn from the head of iceberg lettuce. With hunger as our sauce, it was the most successful meal of the trip.
I learned a lesson that day, too: frozen vegetables do have a place in Trekkers’ menus… Read more…