A Little Free Library & a Wintry Cream Soda

A Little Free Library & a Wintry Cream Soda

Sam puts a book in the Little Free Library

The first time I discovered a Little Free Library was on one of my walks through our neighbourhood when we lived in Toronto. I was out with my dog and it was getting dark after a long summer evening. The library was somewhat in the shadows under the Norway maple trees that line the streets of many neighbourhoods, including Roncesvalles and Parkdale. We straddled both neighbourhoods, so an evening walk could take us in either direction--Roncesvalles being the preference for that particular evening. At first I just noticed the cute little house and then realized that there were books inside.

The sign on the post read: LittleFreeLibrary.org. Take a book. Return a book. I immediately went home to check out the site to find that there were little libraries all over the world. Their mandate is “to promote literacy and the love of reading by building book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community…” and I couldn’t resonate with that mandate more.

My love of reading equals my love of the outdoors, so it is fitting that our library is right next to the trail entrance of the Acadia University Woodland Trails. We were excited to launch our library on February 13. My father-in-law built it for us and dedicated it to our son, Llewyn. I hope he loves reading and hiking as much as I do when he grows up. He’s already been down on the Woodland Trails with me and our dog, Reggie, almost every day and he's enjoying interactive books that have textures and flaps, now that he's 11 months old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our little library is for the Town of Wolfville and all those who find themselves here and walking the trails around the University. Everyone who attended our launch party made your way around the ever-growing snow pile at the end of Beckwith Street to drop off their books at our little orange library. Winter is one of the best times to read, so I thought what better time to get the library started.

Now that we have a little library in our front yard, I see myself working on my garden this spring and talking with my neighbours and all those who walk by to check out the library. It may not be on a main street but we get a lot of trail traffic. There is even another library on the other side of the Acadia University Woodland Trails. Since our launch party, I’ve found out that there are actually more than 10 libraries in the Annapolis Valley. Not all of them are registered with littlefreelibrary.org, so I decided to make a Facebook page to keep track of them all. Updates are still in progress, but you can check out the Annapolis Valley Little Free Libraries Facebook page here.

 

 

The mandate of the little libraries should include getting people reading and exploring outdoors. We feel pretty lucky that the forest by our house is an extension of our backyard and we hope to share both the books and the outdoors with everyone who finds themselves in our neighbourhod.

I created a special drink for the occasion of our launch party. Winter may be just over, but there are so many ways to use syrup made from evergreen trees and it doesn’t have to stop at wintry drinks. I have something in mind for spring too. Stay tuned.

 

Winter Hike Balsam Fir Cream Soda

 

When we got our Christmas tree in December, I knew my then 8-month old son wouldn’t be the only one eating the fir needles, so we made sure that we got a spray-free tree (many are in Nova Scotia, just ask to be sure). We got to enjoy the pungent Christmas tree smell one more time in January as I chopped up the needles and simmered them to make the syrup. You can dream about making your own next Christmas. This syrup is more of a wintry take than a Christmassy take on the syrup. It could include other herbs like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I stuck with ginger and lemon to compliment the woodsy fresh fir, adding a little cream for smoothness and to make it a wintry white. You can use this syrup in so many other ways too – in yogurt or oatmeal, over desserts, or whatever you can dream up. This makes enough syrup to give as gifts. So if you just want to try just a bit, halve the recipe. I made a lot to share at the launch party!

 

 

 

For Syrup

8 cups water

5 cups cane sugar

1.5 cups roughly chopped balsam fir needles

2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt 

 

For Soda

1 oz. syrup

splash of heavy cream

ice

8 oz. club soda

ginger bitters

 

Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring often to incorporate sugar. Add balsam fir needles, ginger, lemon juice, and salt. Steep until cooled or overnight. Strain through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into jars or gift bottles.

Mix one ounce of syrup and a splash of heavy cream in a glass. Drop in a couple of ice cubes. Pour soda overtop and add few drops of ginger bitters on top. If you're feeling inclined, an ounce of gin is nice too.

Enjoy!

 

 

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About Avery Peters

Sharing stories. Sharing food.

I express my creativity in the kitchen. My inspiration comes from being outside—in the forest, on the farm, by the ocean, or going to the farmers’ market. I love to share food with family and friends.