For years, New Mexico has been in a terrible drought. With water rationing and water conservation signage throughout our restaurants and hotels, New Mexicans have learned to sip carefully. This summer we have been lucky. Deluged with a monsoon season that has been plentiful, the rains have brought buckets of precious water to our parched landscape and left knee-high weeds mingling within a plethora of wildflowers. We have never seen our high desert countryside so green, so lush with foliage, so full of nature. With each rain, the elevated fire danger alerts lessen, the fire gauge’s arrow slowly creeping back from red to orange to yellow to green. Earlier this summer, we saw fires in the Jemez Mountains to our west and fires in the Pecos Wilderness to our east. Our mornings saw smoky haze creeping around Santa Fe, our afternoons showed us billowing smoke clouds topping the Sangre de Cristos. We held our breath each time we heard thunder, fearing a lightning strike against nature’s dryness. When the monsoons arrived in July, our tension eased, knowing the pinon trees and grasses were soaking up the moisture, re-building their arsenal against the ever-present dryness.
Some time around the first part of July, we received our first round of monsoon showers. The normal thunder and lightning came along for the ride. Out of the clear blue, Amore decided she did not like thunder. In fact, she decided she was downright scared of thunder. So scared, and so unexpected, the first time she freaked, we immediately took her to the vet, knowing something was horribly wrong. Shivering, shaking, not eating, agitated, up and down, insistent to be on us or right next to us, we were clueless to what was wrong with her. Thunder had never bothered her in the past. She slept though it, never giving the loud crackling noise a thought. Even when the thundering storm was right overhead, like cymbals crashing together, she wouldn’t bother to lift her head, twitch her nose or jerk her paw. Amore was oblivious to the thunder. And now, she shivers and shakes with fear, sometimes for hours after the storm has passed.
We purchased a thunder shirt for her, hoping to lessen her anxiety. The moment we hear the rumbling drums of thunder, we put Amore in her shirt, wrapping the fabric snugly against her. It helps. Not completely, but it brings her panic to a more manageable level. For five years, thunder’s loud roll overhead never affected Amore. Today, the distant reverberation brings her to her knees.
Last night’s rain brought another round of thunder. At one in the morning, Amore awoke in fear as the storm let loose above us. Lightning, thunder, rain, and hail crashed through the night, pelting the land with more than an inch of moisture in less than fifty minutes. Amore shook with terror as the loud booms of thunder were clashing over us. She headed straight to Malcolm to calm her, jumping up on the bed and onto Malcolm’s sleeping form. Malcolm woke to a trembling dog crushing him, breathing in dog hair, a dog tail flapping in his face. Paws stepping all over him, Malcolm was Amore’s security blanket. It was sunrise before Malcolm was able to fall back to sleep, Amore nestled up against his side, gently snoring, safe.
THUNDER & LIGHTNING CAKE
Best to make when a storm is approaching in the distance!
- 1/2 c butter
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 4 egg yolks (save whites)
- 3/4 c flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 4 tbsp. cream
- 1 tsp. Kaluha
- 4 egg whites
- 1 c. brown sugar
- cream of tartar
- 1/2 c chopped pecans
- 1/2 pt. of whipped cream or Cool Whip (I prefer homemade whipped cream)
Preheat over at 350 degrees. Grease two (2) cake pans and layer parchment paper on bottom of each pan.
Cream butter and 1/2 c brown sugar, slowly adding the egg yolks one at a time. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cream and Kaluha. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.. Spread out batter (it will looks like very little, but will rise up as it bakes). Beat egg whites until stiff and gradually add 1 cup brown sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar. Beat again until peaks are stiff. Spread over top of batter, then sprinkle with pecans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn out on cake plate with the egg white side down. Spread top of cake layer with whipped cream. Place second layer of cake on top of first layer of cake, this time egg white side up!
If layers stick in pans, run a knife around the edge to loosen the meringue.