Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Got my head in the clouds

Photo: bodies flung into an eye --

We’re expecting snow this weekend. I love snow -- it's so beautiful and fun and we hardly ever get it, but that low, still, woolen sky makes me feel a little claustrophobic. Until the snow clouds move in, I’ll enjoy the brilliant winter skies. The nighttime clouds have been simply amazing. I love finding shapes in the clouds on a bright sunny day, but I don’t often see distinguishable shapes at night. However, on Monday evening while out on a late night walkabout, I found myself staring up at an orgy of naked bodies backlit by the moon.

“There should be a cloud forecast,” I thought. “That is incredible! What are those?” The thick, low-hanging clouds snaked across the sky beneath the lunar glow. The cloud formations curved and arced in long, graceful shapes like the exposed legs and asses of naked lovers. It’s hard to explain, but there they were – blue-white, all thick and soft and curled into one another.

I looked them up and the clouds, if I got it right, were “mammatus” clouds – derived from the Latin “mamma” for breast. They can be long lines -- as I saw -- or bodacious lobes that form “sky boobies.” I’ll be watching for those!

Mammatus may appear as smooth, ragged or lumpy lobes and may be opaque or semitransparent. Because mammatus occur as a grouping of lobes, the way they clump together can vary from an isolated cluster to a field of mamma that spread over hundreds of kilometers to being organized along a line, and may be composed of unequal or similarly-sized lobes.”

A field of mamma. Yum!

The clouds reminded me of one of my favorite places on earth – the Painted Hills of Eastern Oregon, which reminded me of the desert hot springs, which filled me with longing for a trip to the Alvord Hot Spring for a long soak with my lover on a cold, clear night, beneath “a field of mamma.”

In the southeast corner of the Painted Hills is the Alvord Desert, where there is a remote hot springs considered to be a “pinnacle” of the far and away hot springs experience. God, I can smell the desert just thinking about it.

The water will make our skin feel born again. We'll smell like the earth and the rocks. We'll shiver as we dry off and drive to our little motel room or slip into the tent. We'll have a hot springs picnic -- Tailgate Sandwiches and thin-sliced dill pickles, and homemade brownies. We'll crack open a couple of dark beers -- some nice creamy Black Butte Porter would be perfect.

In the morning, we'll fill up on golden hash browns and fat, greasy eggs and biscuits and gravy. Then we'll go on a hike in the desert, explore the rock formations and maybe take one last bone-warming dip in broad daylight before we head home. No need to be shy. After all, the guidebook says, "expect nakedness."

Expect Nakedness Tailgate Sandwiches

1 loaf Focaccia bread
4-6 ounces sliced smoked ham
4-6 ounces proscuittio
4-6 ounces deli turkey
4-6 ounces Provolone cheese
4-6 ounces cheddar
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
Black & green olives, sliced
Mayo, dijon, basil pesto
Salt & pepper

Bake the focaccia as directed. Cut the bread horizontally in half. Spread a thin layer of mayo, dijon and pesto on the inside of each half. Layer the remaining ingredients. Season with salt & pepper. Wrap sandwich tightly in foil and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Best made a whole day in advance. Cut into wedges and serve.


Craig Sorensen said...


Yum to the sandwiches, yum to the sexy clouds, Yum to eastern Oregon, yum to hot springs on a cool evening.

Just yum!

Kirsten Monroe said...

Hi Craig,

So glad you agree how yummy that would be!


Donna said...

Ohmigod, this whole post is so gorgeous, from the "low, still, woolen sky" (which has me contemplating plagiarism) to those luscious sandwiches. Hmm, since nakedness is already involved, they might go well with the Jeremy table, perhaps?

Kirsten Monroe said...

Hi Donna,

I was just trying to peek into the windows of your amazing gingerbread house. I thought I saw some interesting shadow action behind the butterscotch glass, but it could have been an optical illusion.

Thanks so much for dropping in for a peek at my clouds! I agree, the Jeremy table should definitely have sandwiches -- in New Orleans they would be called Muffaletta :)Rather appropriate for such a buffet!

Donna said...

Oh, no, you're weren't imagining things. My gingerbread houses are pretty cute on the outside, but that glow from the inside ain't just the flash light, if you know what I mean.

A New Orleans picnic sandwich... aw, man, talk about a place that knows good food! Too bad we can't have a progressive dinner in cyberspace. With our group, it would be sooo good!

Jeremy Edwards said...

I agree, the Jeremy table should definitely have sandwiches -- in New Orleans they would be called Muffaletta :)

Served with Jerambalaya?

BadAssKona said...

I try not to say too much about the Alvord...It's a precious place. I've followed big horn sheep, photographed rattlesnakes, picked up horned lizards, dug blue opal, rolled in the mud and fucked my brains out in the sun. Someday, my ashes will blow away in the playa wind, there.

Kirsten Monroe said...

Quietly having goosebumps.