Another Monday visit to the Braun Farm where summer is in full force with thistles developing its blossoms that invite butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to their attractive and fruitful blooms.
The summer also presented and abundance of the invasive Mediterranean chickory and its vivid blue flowers growing along the edge of Cooper Road.
Warmer and drier weather increases the variety and volume of fresh vegetables offered at the Uptown Westerville Wednesday Farmers Market. New this week is the first fresh corn of the season and greater stocks of tomatoes, potatoes, squash, zucchini, and garden beans.
Contractors began Tuesday changing the path for the Starbucks on South State Street by removing almost all of the trees, the shrubs, and vegetation at the rear of the property to make way for a new parking lot, drive-through lane, and entrance to the coffee shop.
One day near July 4th for the past 15 years there’s a party on Timberbank Lane. It’s main food attraction is barbecued ribs prepared by about 10 chefs each hoping that their choice of ribs, rub, sauce, and preparation will win the title of The Rib King of Timberbank Lane. Other than a congratulatory cheer at the winner’s announcement, the only award is an apron and chef’s hat. Both are supposed to be returned in time to be awarded to next years winner.
The palm-size golden pig trophy didn’t make it back several years ago so it’s down to apron and hat. I imagine the pig’s permanent owner turning away from cable news during a commercial break to see the porcelain porcine prize posing between his softball and bowling trophies and remembering the year his ribs were the best. On Timberbank Lane.
Each year the cookoff gets more serious. Last year a relative of the neighbors who sponsor the culinary cookoff towed a commercial smoker behind his pickup truck arriving the day before the cookoff. He sat with it all night smoking half a hog in addition to the four slabs of ribs required for the competition. This year he brought his more portable Traeger smoker that fit in his truck bed. It was large enough for the four slabs of ribs and a complement of brats for those who wanted a snack before eating ribs.
The brats were great, I’m told.
The recipe for the event is simple. Every chef makes four slabs of ribs. They must be home cooked and prepared with rub and sauce made by the cook. No commercial-cooked ribs and no store-bought sauce. This is a serious contest. If you don’t have the fortitude to be told your ribs are good enough to compete but not good enough to win, then it’s okay to just show up to eat. It never happens that previous year’s losers return with the same combination of rub and sauce.
The ribs are offered in aluminum serving trays, one dedicated to each cook’s entry. The tray is assigned a toothpick with a colored paper flag that disquises the cook’s identity. First, second, and third-place choices are placed in red, white, and blue cups that mark not only the patriotic colors of the celebration but also the matching award ribbons. There are no awards for second and third place. They are required only for the announcement phase so the awardees know early that their ribs are losers and they have failed, and won’t be The Rib King of Timberbank Lane.
Debuting this year was a rib prepared in a style not previously seen by anyone at the cookoff.
One of the cooks finished his rubbed, smoked, and sauced ribs by deep-frying them after they came out of the smoker. Yes, deep-fried barbecue ribs. Slow-cooked, smoked, slathered with home-made barbecue sauce, coated in flour, and fried in a propane-fired turkey fryer. It was a first for the The Rib King of Timberbank Lane Annual Rib Cookoff near the 4th of July.
Each year always has a first of soemthing. Sometimes it’s the return of a neighbor who moved away in the last year. Or a new bride or groom or child, or the latest grandchild. Or it’s someone who decides its easier to contribute by making their best and famous recipe for scalloped corn or a chocolate graham cracker crust cheesecake covered in tart cherries with a whipped cream crown at the center, or spicy meatballs slow-cooked in a marinara sauce. The covered-dish category is a safe place. There are no losers in the covered-dish category.
Don’t want to forget the cornhole tournament that begins as soon as the ribs are gone. Fueled by the smoked meat, scalloped corn, cheesecake, cookies and cupcakes, and fortified with a healthy helping of adult beverages, the tournament goes on until near midnight with little complaint by the neighbors, all of whom have been at the cookoff, have eaten too much, and are now home complaining of the size of their stomachs, or asleep.
My Final Photo for July 4, 2019, continues the tradition of making a photo of Westerville Reserve Police Officer Ted Bretthauer accompanied by a few kids saluting the Honor Guard as it leads the July 4th parade through Uptown Westerville.
Bretthauer is not always at the same intersection and has some times been so far away that I couldn’t find him Uptown. This year he was at Main and State and ready for his annual action photo.
The photo chosen for My Final Photo is different than any of the other years I’ve made this photo. It is with a wide-angle lens showing Bretthauer and the children at the far right of the frame with the Honor Guard proceeding down the center of State Street as they cross Main. Included the sky, the perspective slanted view of storefronts, and the Main Street sign.
Using a wide angle requires good composition and the selection of storytelling elements that eliminates distractions. This photo is divided into thirds with the left element (Honor Guard) balancing the right element (Brettauer and kids) with the center third an open space that works an an open space indicating movement by the Honor Guard. The traffic signal arm, usually a great distraction, works to balance the open space of the sky and acts as a frame to keep the viewer’s eye from falling out of the photo.
I’ve never attempted, with great expectation, shooting this photo with a wide-angle usually because the background does little to contribute to the story that makes the photograph important enough that it can become a personal marker challenging me to be better next time or as a discovery of a new way to see an ordinary event.
The compositional elements were in alignment, the scene was bright and backlit, and the colors rich. Even caught the Honor Guard with their heels hitting the street in perfect step.
The only thing I’d like to have different is for that golf cart to not have parked behind the kids when the Honor Guard passed. I had to watch my angle to get it obscured as much as possible.
I’ve included a second wide-angle view and a telephoto version (my normal view) for your appraisal and discussion.
Westerville Reserve Officer Ted Bretthauer salutes as he stands with his three young charges as the police department Honor Guard passes at the lead of the 4th of July parade through Uptown Westerville. My Final Photo for July 4, 2019.
Hoping everyone has a July 4th that takes a moment to honor the moment in history when a group of people decided that freedom was the most important aspect of their lives and were willing to risk it all in battle.
Three of those men – Joseph Ingalls, 6th Regular New York Infantry; Benjamin Moore, 1st Regular Connecticut Infantry; and Simeon Moore, 4th Regular Connecticut Infantry, are buried in Pioneer Cemetery. Even if you don’t do any more than offer a silent prayer, a quick salute, a nod of the head, or turn your head west when you drive by on State Street.
Remember who offered their very lives so you can today celebrate the freedom they attained for us.
We still have struggles. We still have to question what works and doesn’t work. We must answer ignorance with truth. We must never allow ourselves to be removed from the process of democracy. We must defend our heritage.
I urge everyone to read more, especially about the Revolutionary War period. At top of the most recent book list are “1776” by David McCullough, “Ten Crucial Days” by William Kidder, and “The British are coming” by Rick Atkinson. Also read “The Pioneers” by David McCullough which follows Revolutionay War soldier who created the first settlements in the Northwest Territory. All these books are available in the Westerville Public Library.
My Final Photo for July 1, 2019, is from a series of photos taken while following a group of four women kayakers who began their aquatic trek on Alum Creek at the Main Street Bridge and passed under the bridge over Cleveland Avenue where My Final Photo was made from the edge of the walkpath.
Below is a link to a Tumblr post with my selection of photos from their travels. A link to My Final Photo for July 1, 2019.
A quartet of kayakers paddles their way upstream on Alum Creek near the Cleveland Avenue bridge on a warm Monday afternoon. My Final Photo for July 1, 2019.