ghost of a tree


Feb TIF done
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

The prompt for the February Take It Further challenge was "What are you old enough to remember?"

Growing up, my mother would point out elm trees as we were driving around, and tell us to pay attention, because they were dying. I can remember elms lining Main Street, and an elm in the backyard of one house we lived in. We watched it die. There was another in the hayfield where we held horse trials, and I watched that one die as well – it went from tree to tree with problems to a stump over about 4 years.

This is my memory of that tree, in Lockwood’s field, in front of the mixed  spruce/birch forest that edged the fields. I tried to make it insubstantial, the only thing that truly remains of it is the memories of the people who saw it and took note and the stump. I haven’t dared go back in the last 20 years to see if the field is still a field or if it has succumbed to a housing development.

So it made me gloomier than I expected, even though it looks pretty and sunny.

And after all that protesting about bon bons, I made toffee, like this:

  • line a pan with something that is easy to peel off sticky things, and spray it with non-stick spray or something like it
  • place nice crackers in the pan edge to edge as much as possible (hard if they are round, but do your best)
  • mix 1 C brown sugar and 1 C (1/2 lb, or two sticks) butter, melt and boil for 5 minutes, pour over the crackers, and bake at 350 for 10 minutes – this will flatten out the toffee and it will bubble
  • get it out of the oven before anything burns, and layer the best chocolate chips you have over the top, quite thickly. They will melt. Spread the melty bits around.
  • Now decorate it. I dropped on dried cherries reconstituted in brandy, but the original recipe calls for chopped nuts, or I’d add toasted coconut in a heartbeat, either to the chocolate or sprinked on top… whatever you decide, it should make you happy.
  • cool it in the fridge, crack it into bits when it is cool, and eat as fast as possible. Don’t worry, you slow down after a while. I still haven’t finished all mine, and I’ve had help.

The recipe came from my friend the Other Kate, but I upgraded all the materials to my taste. The crackers were originally supposed to be club crackers or saltines, but I used Carr’s whole wheat instead. You really do need the crackery crunch (having tested the end with no crackers as well) so choose something. The recipe said milk chocolate, but I prefer dark, so I used that, creating a small patch with milk chocolate at the end for the kids who prefer that. Since we can’t do nuts, I did the thing with cherries. They would have been good left chewy too. The end result is a far more dark and brooding toffee than Kate served us, but tasty all the same.

So: quilting, embroidery and bon bons – a pretty good weekend! Oh, and snow. Six inches of fluffy stuff, all pretty and white.


7 thoughts on “ghost of a tree

  1. Yes its beautiful but in a sad way, just as you intended. In the background, I can see a figure as if in mourning, not sure if that was intentional or not. The white stitching is like the water or life seeping away with only the skeletons of the leaves left.

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  2. I really like your challenge piece, and the white stitching is really striking. The background does a great job of bringing the elm tree forward. I remember the diseased elms too.

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  3. Here’s a basic toffee recipe from Betty Crocker – no crackers, but still really good
    Butter a 9″x9″ pan
    Coat with 1/2 c finely chopped nuts
    Heat 3/4 c brown sugar and 1/2 c butter, bring to boiling in 1 quart pan
    Boil over med heat, stirring constantly, 7 minutes
    Immediately spread over nuts in pan
    Sprinkle 1/2 c chocolate chips over hot mixture, cover with cookie sheet until chocolate melts. Spread evenly.
    Cut into 1 12 inch squares while hot. Refrigerate until firm.

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  4. the field is still open, Suzy and family bought the house, it is now weird, and the barn has been replaced by another house. Your eclipse is delightful and all the goodies make me hungry. Nice to be home.

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  5. I like your series about trees. I too have memories of important tree stories in my childhood, having lived with forest at the back of the garden and poplars just across the river near our house. So your piece is very moving to me.

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