Janelle’s Soup


Clayton and Mary Lou


“Come give your aunty a kiss!”


Stan with his brother and sister

When we holiday with the Reed side of the family it takes months of planning; airplane tickets need to be purchased, work schedules accommodated, vacation-rentals booked, meal-plans and grocery lists posted on-line, and last year’s missed Christmas gifts bought and wrapped. After all the organizational effort we still need to get on location. Some drive 2300 miles, others fly across the country. Our own itinerary includes car, plane, and ferry travel.

While exploring our 5-bathroom home for the week, the older cousins run through bedrooms scoping out sleeping spots, as if rest is one of their priorities. They aren’t the only ones who sacrifice sleep; with a two-year-old and baby in the mix–each from different time zones, night-time is more of a brief intermission between activity than a prolonged rest.

But we don’t care much about that. Not when there are gulleys to rappel, creeks to explore, mountain ridges to hike, tide pools to discover, songs to make up, stories to tell, cougars to spot? and bowlfuls of Janelle’s soup to eat.


Stan and his mom, hiking on the trails around the home we rented.


At the gulley before the rappelling lessons from Stan


Tide pools at Salt Creek Recreation Area in WA




Cousin Trevor

image image It’s easy to notice how much the children have changed since the last time we were all together. Then we had to watch Maeve carefully while she toddled around the fire, and was it Simon who was still taking naps? It’s different now; Maeve digs her heels in and clings to the rope during a tug-of-war to pull the girls to victory, and Simon keeps up with the oldest three, balancing on logs and testing out carabiners. Both of them perform an original ballad, written for their grandma and grandpa, with their very serious older cousins. (Though I notice Maeve making faces at Simon during the chorus). Next time it will be Lucy who graduates to the senior ranks, and then Vivian. The memories from each vacation are like marks against the wall–only instead of measuring in feet and inches we have anecdotes to reflect growth.


Hurricane Ridge, Olympic Park, WA


My sister-in-laws and me


Is Maeve fleeing from our harmonies?

image Our last day together we go to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic Park. We walk until we find an open meadow with an expansive view which moves us to song. After a hymn, How Great Thou Art, things quickly degrade; it’s impossible not to conjure Julia Andrews in these surroundings so we try our best. The moment, if not entirely musical, is memorable and we stay as long as we can overlooking the mountain panorama. By the time we get home we are hungry again. Happily, it is Janelle and Jon’s night on supper duty and they make this soup for us. A few days after we return home both Anne and I email Janelle separately for the recipe so we can recreate it ourselves. I’m not sure if it was the scenery before eating the soup, the anise flavour in the Italian sausage, or simply the fact I didn’t prepare it, that made it so good. Give it a try to make up your own mind…

Janelle’s Italian Soup

3 cloves garlic

1 medium onion

olive oil

1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled

3 15.5 oz cans of great northern beans, rinsed and drained

2 14.5 oz cans Italian diced tomatoes

1 14 oz can chicken broth

rosemary, salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic in oil and then brown the sausage. (I tried it with farmer sausage and it didn’t work. You need the herbs in the Italian kind.) Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer. Go somewhere really beautiful, then come back, and eat.


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