Let me tell you about a Firehouse custom. These cold mornings at Engine 23, it is my first responsibility to make soup from the left overs of the previous days lunch and dinner before we go out to check for frozen hydrants. It is a long standing tradition, born in the misty past, that the driver of the Engine (me) makes the soup and God knows the firehouse is nothing without tradition. Every morning during hydrant season; the days between October 1st and April 30th we check each fire hydrant in the city for leakage once a month. That involves driving around in the big rig, jumping off and hand dipping each one with a weight strung to the end of a rope. If the string, as it's pulled out, brings with it a splash of water, that hydrant is in danger of freezing solid and must be blown out dry with compressed air down below the frost line. A frozen hydrant wastes precious time in the effort to put the wet stuff on the red stuff.
Making soup and checking hydrants are twin rituals, like the steady tick and tock of a grandfather clock. The dependable morning rite starts the steady rhythm of the day, it makes the Firehouse: Home. There is no recipe for refrigerator soup, in the 112 years it has been improvised in Engine 23's big kitchen, never has it been made twice the same. It may start with corned beef, sausage, chicken, fish, veal, ham, pork roast, or it may have no meat base at all. I've seen times when there were no left overs at all, then we'd have a go with a creamy potato and onion probably.
What so ever survives the night gets chopped up in the morning and put into the soup. Tradition!
For awhile we tried to name the soup du jour. Names like "The Chiefs Out of the Loop Soup" came in moments of inspiration. However; the magic is not in the naming but in the preparation. For me a work day begins with chopped onions and the din of a hundred peculating conversation when sixteen A-type firehouse personalities, all hopped up on black coffee, are pressed around the chopping block as our shifts change. It is not a polite group and many a delicate soul has been diced up and thrown into the boil. There is often a bruised ego in the broth!
World Bird Wednesday reminds me of refrigerator soup, warm, filling, and invigorating no mater the ingredients. While the fixing's are always different and the proportions at times preposterous, it is the shared experience of making soup that adds subtlety of flavour and aroma, like three bay leaves.
The firehouse and WBW are as much a cooking school as anything else. You get to taste it all and watch it being made. Secrets are revealed. The traditions of every cuisine meet and melt, they become a part of your personal experience.
Here in the Detroit Fire Department, the Black guys can cook Chinese, the Hillbillies prepare a mean Mid-eastern, the Asians throw down on soul food, and the Latins can kick out a Polish Wedding in a heart beat. There's no point getting your britches twisted. Superficial expectations diminish and the lines we mistook for boarders become pleasantly blurred because, in the end, we'll all wind up together in tomorrow's soup anyway!
This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!
World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.
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