An Update from Idaho
Late fall found us all storing hay and feed for our livestock, gathering and splitting the last of the firewood and buttoning up our gardens and greenhouses.
Each family hurried to complete their harvests and plant their garlic for next year. Men and boys, along with a sister or two, took to the fields and forests in pursuit of wild game. Many healthy animals were harvested and prepared and packaged into frozen meals as well as stuffed sausages and pounds and pounds of seasoned jerky. All is snugly tucked away for a long winter’s rest.
The first early snow blanketed the ground on October 23. The first snow always reminds us to slow down and take care—remember, your brakes may cause more hurt than help when the road is slick!
Several young men gathered wild apples, and we assembled near our community hall to press them into cider. Biting fingers of cold wind stabbed us from all sides, it being the first really cold day of late fall. We had propane heaters set about as a welcome relief to thaw purple fingers and faces.
Once the pressing was completed and the operation cleaned up, we warmed up indoors with bowls of hot chili and steaming apple cider before regrouping to decorate the hall and prepare food for the upcoming wedding reception.
Reception for the Newlyweds
Isaac and Helen French were married in Texas on October 10, and since many of our local friends were unable to attend the wedding in Texas, we hosted a small reception for them here in Idaho. This allowed our local friends to meet Helen and her family and to get a small glimpse of the wedding.
Multiple families woke up to a snow-related power outage the morning of October 24, making preparations for the reception more interesting. All of our guest rooms and accommodations were overflowing, with friends and family from all around the country. This made ironing, cleaning and cooking an extra challenge in the absence of power. With a little innovation and sharing we were all able to prepare in time.
Many of our youth served plates of the various finger foods and soups they had prepared the night before. The menu included miniature meat and cheese rollups, muffins, cream cheese and lox on crackers, veggies and dip, baked potato and poblano bisque soup, along with sparkling punch.
Brother Dan shared excerpts from the wedding ceremony, which gave a glimpse of the ceremony in Texas. We watched a video presentation of Isaac and Helen‘s lives and then joined in singing along with family and friends. Dessert included lemon raspberry chiffon cake and steaming cider from freshly pressed apples. Everyone enjoyed the occasion and greeting the bride and groom.
Frozen Ponds Invite Ice Skaters
In early December our ponds had frozen over with ice, thick and smooth enough to skate on. We lit glowing bonfires on the bank, while snow sparkled and winter stars winked brightly in the dark sky. The ice groaned as it adjusted to the extra weight of skaters and as it expanded with the dropping mercury.
One evening nearly 50 people showed up to skate or watch! Christmas carols floated on the frosty air as we circled and cut back and forth around the huge pond together. As the moon rose late and full, we all gathered around the bonfire with a guitar and sang, warming with mugs of hot cocoa.
Pie Safe Business Brisk
The Pie Safe has been busy even though winter has set in. Christmas parties, special meals and the daily influx of holiday shoppers and gatherings have kept us running. Our November dinner of wild-rice-stuffed Cornish game hens, candied carrots, cream of leek soup with fresh sourdough rolls, autumn salad and pie with frozen custard fed 80 cheerful guests, several of them using the occasion to celebrate a birthday.
The following Tuesday morning, an order of 30 pumpkin pies left the bakery with a gentleman who would soon deliver them as Thanksgiving gifts. Throughout that day and the next, the remaining 145 special-ordered pies were picked up by their happy owners. The bakers peeled and chopped nearly 200 pounds of apples alone!
We hosted two dinners filled to our virus-reduced maximum capacity of 85 during December. We began the meal with warmed brie, followed by creamy asparagus soup and piping hot rolls, mixed green salad and then beef wellington, roasted potatoes and spinach Madeline. Somehow the brimming guests found room to enjoy silky smooth pots de créme, crme brûlée and hot drinks.
Youth Group Hosts December Banquet
The youth group hosted a banquet in our community hall on December 19. The night before, we all gathered to clean as well as prepare food. Mini Gruyére gougeres started the Brazilian meal, followed by avocado eggrolls, Brazilian cobb salads, and the main dish of beef tri tip and Frango Churrasco with serrano lime rice and charro beans topped with fried onion.
The servers cleared the dinner plates, and we promptly found our places on the low platform to sing a couple cheery Christmas carols for our guests. Folks showed appreciation with applause. Chocolate tuxedo cake and banana cheesecake followed, along with creamy eggnog and steaming hot coffee.
As the guests departed, we all gathered around the sink, and the dish race was on! Six people lined the sink, scraping, washing and rinsing dishes while many more cleared counters and dried and put away dishes. Eventually we sat around the tables to enjoy the extra food before hauling all the borrowed dishes and utensils back to the Pie Safe.
As Christmas drew near, some out-of-town folks came to celebrate with their families, while others left town to visit family in other places. Several afternoons and evenings we caroled to neighbors in Helmer, Deary, Moscow and Pullman. Our faces glowed in the light of flickering lanterns as our voices joined together in the frosty air with cheerful tidings of the newborn King. It felt wonderful to share the joy and love of Jesus to many whom the bad news and social tensions of the year have left yearning for something fresh and alive.
We hope that you all are well as we look forward to all that God will do in us and through us in 2021!