Though likely few notice, quails are remarkably prevalent among the pantheon of creatures in classical art and myth. The layers of many eggs from up to three broods during one breeding season, quails are aptly portrayed in the hands of Diana, the Roman goddess of fertility, as symbols of abundance and security. Other representations include courage (fighting birds of Russian czars), lust (given their frenzied, occasionally polygamous, courtships), and fear (“to cower, or quail, in fright”). Native Americans believe to dream of hunting quail foretells a happy surprise, and it is said that hearing a quail’s call within two weeks of giving birth means a correct choice of baby name. 

The only quail native to the east coast is the Northern Bobwhite. These tubby, pear-shaped birds prefer a fleet footrace over winged flight 9 times out of 10, strolling or sprinting in familial coveys between the cover of low shrubs and grasses. The bobwhite’s eponymous call, “bob-bob-WHITE“, rises a full octave from beginning to end. Their pitchy whistle is, to me, among the east coast’s, and our backyard’s, loveliest harbingers of autumn. Because bobwhites typically return to the same nesting area year after year, and come September, I patiently wait.

This year, silence. For the last half-century, numbers of Northern bobwhite have been on a sharp decline, largely owing to habitat loss. Of human origin or not, it is the single greatest threat to all birds, as we already witnessed with our ospreys following the hurricanes, and to most wildlife in general. But as it goes, “The ‘environment’ is not, and never has been, a neutral, fixed backdrop; it is in fact alive, changing all the time in response to innumerable contingencies.” — words from my book du jour that are true, but nonetheless provide little comfort for the losses.

Before this post goes entirely to the birds, a look back at this Weekly Suppers highlight that hit a perfect note mid-week. Thick boneless pork chops marinated, then seared, then braised with kalamata olives, baby potatoes and garlic in a silky, bay leaf, anchovy and rosemary infused bath of tomatoes and red wine + more of an Italian red wine in our glasses.

We are thankful for an extension to our weekend for Monday’s holiday, and look forward to much downtime after long hours at work. But mostly we look forward to gameday Sunday! Wishing for a Packers win to upset the odds stacked against them, a terrific weekend + week ahead to each of you.

Cheers, Heather

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Some interesting, fun, delicious reads:

  • January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Almost 1 in every 33 babies born in the US is affected by a birth defect, including Down syndrome, cleft lip and palate, spina bifida, and severe heart anomalies. Serious physical and emotional issues impact not only those individuals, but also their families and communities. Not all birth defects are preventable, but there are steps couples can take to increase the chances of having a baby born without birth defects.
  • Brush up on gardening know-how for the upcoming season — it’ll be here faster than you think!
  • I’m not a fry person, but these oven-baked parsnip fries with nut butter (GF) look killer.
  • Ride hailing services partner with caregiver networks for a terrific cause.
  • Happy trails maps.
  • This week’s pinned words of wisdom.

Recently on HGN:

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