waves of nastalgia are sloshing around in my brain. perhaps its my close proximity to sault saint marie ontario (birth city & childhood home). never-the-less, in my search for affordable, warm winter boots, i couldn’t help but remember my mother (or was it my sister) carefully wrapping my four or five year old feet in plastic bags, securing a rubber band around my ankle and then stuffing the wrapped little sausages into a pair of those tri-color, shin high, striped squishy boots. hours upon hours were spent playing in the snow covered yard or at the golf course around the block. we would dig tunnels and make snowmen and pelt each other with snowballs until our cheeks were as red as plums and our mittens were soaked through.
going inside was never an act of our own volition. my sister nancy has a picture of five year old peter crying furiously in the middle of the family room, steaming tears rolling over his cold, plump, red cheeks. sopping wet mittens dangling pathetically off the sleeves of his jacket.
my search for warm snow boots proved successful. i found and purchased a pair at target for $30 on friday so that i would have something to stuff my 29 year old feet into at the notre dame game this weekend (no baggies necessary). they are not the most comfortable pair of boots (nor the most attractive) but they did the job for the first half of the six and a half hour outing.
the first two hours of the outing took place in section j of the grand notre dame parking lot: tailgate party. my first. and what better place to experience your very first tailgate party than at the last homegame of the notre dame season?
i wanted to contribute something special to the parking lot feast so i spent countless minutes the previous day wheeling my cart up and down the isles of the martin’s supermarket, seeking inspiration. it occurred to me eventually that my grandpa’s (a.k.a the chief’s) clam dip would be the perfect side dish. i called my sister nancy for recipe support. she was in the middle of a lunch rush at DISH (her restaurant) so she only had a moment to guide me in the culinary process. She rattled off some ingredients and warned me away from squeezing more than a touch of lemon into the mixture. (I do remember the unfortunate batch she had made a year prior into which she squeezed an entire lemon resulting in only disappointment and a craving gone unsatisfied.) I nodded gravely and catalogued her lemony warning. I called a few more blood reletives to ensure I had a complete recipe before heading to the check out.
though i spoke with four different family members, i would like to sing in praise of my brother pete who spent about five minutes on the phone with me carefully outlining the process from start to finish and even suggesting a caramelized shallot for extra flavor – nice touch. the dip was a hit. it is still a hit. i’m munching on the leftovers as I write this post. mmmm I think the flavors have had a chance to meld.
back to the boots: the boots kept my feet warm for the first four hours. it didn’t help that we were sitting in the stands with our feet resting on top of a thick layer of packed snow. did i mention it had snowed 8 inches two days prior? needless to say, snow balls were flying around the stadium. usually they were directed at the syracuse mascot “orangeman” but a few rogue snow balls missed their mark and hit innocent bystanders . . . like my sweetheart andy. poor, poor andy. one of his classmates was caught throwing one of those rogue snowballs (at other classmates) and was ejected from the game.
hey, its all fun and games until someone gets hit in the head with an ice ball. if you act like a turkey, you’ll wind up cooking your own goose boys and girls.
by the end of the game, my little sausages felt like they were being preserved in the cellar freezer of my childhood memories. despite the fact that the fighting irish lost by a point in the last 2 minutes of the game and most of our feet had been numb since the beginning of the third quarter, we exited the stadium in high spirits. many commented that they wish i would have come to one of the earlier games so i could have enjoyed a game in more agreeable weather but i think the snow and the frigid temperatures only served to preserve the experience in the celler freezer of my brain for years to come.