a victorious winter hunt

I switched addictions surprisingly fast once we ran out of chocolate, months ago.

I switched addictions surprisingly fast once we ran out of chocolate, months ago.

Within a matter of days and without me quite realizing it, my inner craving for a little something had driven me to test such unsatisfactory substitutes as bread with honey, freshly baked cinnamon buns, globs of peanut butter and spoonfuls of Nutella in quick succession.

It wasn’t until my hands were steered almost subconsciously towards the canned applesauce that I knew I was on to something. Or rather, once I added a dollop of evaporated milk and a dash of cinnamon to it with the unerring instinct of a chocolatory bereft looking for a new drug. A quick stir to mix it all up, and a few spoonfuls later an expression of pure bliss spread across my face.

Fortunately, our supply of applesauce was more than ample – because within no time, I had Sam hooked on the concoction, too. The milky applesauce and cinnamon extravaganza tided us over nicely until last weekend, when I killed the last jar while Sam went out, battling the snowdrifts in his role as provider: for the first time this winter, he drove to town on the snowmobile and went grocery shopping.

As usual, I had found it hard to come up with much of a shopping list for him, fresh veggies and fruit having long paled to the most dimly remembered textures and flavours in my mind. Once we run out of fresh food and are eating only canned and dried things (hard to call that stuff “food”), with a few rootcellared additions of assorted boring tubers and roots, I don’t even miss fresh food much anymore. Except for chocolate, of course.

Nevertheless, I was curious to see what kind of groceries Sam had bagged on his hunt for nutrition, chocolate and ice cream being the only two items I had felt a pressing need for when he left. With a flourish, he tore the lid of the three coolers. Multi-coloured and half-forgotten foods, such as bananas, sour cream, tomatoes, goat cheese, sausages, cucumbers, and peppers fogged up shyly in their plastic bags.

“And the ice cream?” I whispered hoarsely, trying hard to tear my eyes away from this almost indecent display of the planet’s bounty. Titillating memories of meals past began to stir. Triumphantly, Sam pulled out a trophy-sized bucket of vanilla ice cream. I swallowed hard to avoid spilling drool on these beauties. Although it was the middle of the afternoon and dinnertime still hours away, a sudden feeling of emptiness began to claw at my stomach.

“You must be hungry after all the snowmobiling,” I cunningly said to Sam while trying to think of a meal that would incorporate samples of everything he had brought in.

“I thought you only wanted ice cream and chocolate?” he asked, eyes innocently wide.

“Half of that stuff would go to waste if I wouldn’t pitch in eating it,” I pointed out, fondling the glossy, deep-red peppers. What a wonderful to sight to behold in our remote log cabin, beleaguered by snow drifted hip high. A salad and some sandwiches followed by ice cream would probably do for starters, I thought and licked my lips.

We unpacked the riches of California, the Okanagan and Quebec, finding spots for everything according to its temperature preference: in a box outside for the things that needed to stay frozen, in a draughty corner inside the cabin where everything would enjoy a refrigerator ambiance, and on shelves and in the root cellar for the rest. The gold-green wrapped chocolate twinkled coquettishly as I put it away, immune for once to its lure now that there was real food.

Since the days of Sam’s return, we have been occupied mostly with eating. We’ve added brunch to our schedule, of course not as a combination of breakfast and lunch, but as an extra meal in between. I shudder at the thought of a soupy bowl of applesauce with milk (of all things) and cinnamon, though no doubt its moment of fame will come again. The new glasses are sitting way back on the shelf, biding their time until my craving fingers will be inexorably drawn to them once more. But that will be a while yet. After all, there is new chocolate, too.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

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