Sunday stills – Weathering the millennia of wind and waves

Wind and waves have worked their magic and stacked layers of limestone pancakes upon which to feast our eyes. 

One of my favourite geological formations to visit is the Pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki, West Coast NZ. I never get tired of viewing the impressive results of wind, wave and seaspray on the limestone formations of Dolomite Point.

The Pancake Rocks and blowholes

Each ‘pancake’ consists of a layer of limestone layer made up of tiny shell fragments, separated from the next pancake by a thin layer of siltstone. Thousands of years of rain, wind and sea spray have etched the softer siltstone into nearly-horizontal grooves, and rounded the edges of the limestone layers, which together look like giant layers of pancakes.

Dolomite Point has a maze of underground passages and large open caverns which face the sea. When there’s a big swell, and the ocean surges into these caverns, water is forced into the passages. Looking for an escape route it follows the passages to the surface. As high tide approaches huge geysers of spray burst skywards. When there’s a big sea running the blowholes are spectacular.

On this day the tide was high and huge waves were rolling in. Luck was on my side. 

I made many images to try to capture that big geyser of spray. Many moments were spent patiently watching and waiting with my camera at the ready in hopeful expectation that the next surge will bring forth that loud whoosh as the waves rise up through the underground passages and burst high above the pancake rock formations. 

Delighting in seeing the power of both the wind and the salt spray trickling back down through the pancake layers. It is fascinating indeed to see the weathering of the rocks still in action as it has been for thousands of years, creating the astounding formations we see today. 

I first saw these spectacular limestone pancakes more than fifty years ago. Then we revisited them with our young children many times and yes, this was way before the area was upgraded with safety fences and sealed pathways. We allowed our kids to explore those tracks between the layered rocks. Whatever was I thinking? 

Looking down into the Devils cauldron ( as it was known then) it is quite mesmerizing watching the force of the waves. Not the place to fall into. Those crumbling cliffs are quite slippery with the constant sea spray. And yet, it is indeed captivating to watch the swirling wave action.  I was too preoccupied watching where my feet were stepping to take a photo of the devils cauldron this day.

Back home I finally got time to do some editing, here are the results of my weathering topic for the Sunday Stills ‘weather’ week. – It could also be for last week’s ‘water’ theme I guess for which I missed the deadline.

We finished off these few days by parking over at Fox River freedom parking site where the local “Rusty Cup’ coffee cart served us real  pancakes with layers of bacon and banana with lashings of maple syrup for breakfast.  Almost breakfast in bed – lol.  On a side note, I caught up with my work colleague from a few years back – together we had ‘weathered’ many rough and tough work days so it was lovely to catch up and share memories as we ate the pancakes and drank the strong coffee.

All that was left to say is “Pass the maple syrup please!”

8. Pancake pandemonium

Progressively Pandemonious Pancakes 
Straws had been drawn, choices made. The date set for the progressive dinner. Each couple had their dinner course to prepare.  We had been allocated to make the dessert course.

What can we make that will look impressive, taste delicious and yet is easy to make? We decided on Hungarian Tipsy pancakes.  The recipe seemed simple yet spectacular. We set to and followed the instructions.

Make the mixture
The ingredients are few
Just a gentle whisk will do
Give the batter a rest for a minute or two

Then take hold of the handle of the pan
Carefully melt the butter until it is just sizzling,
Ladle the batter gently in and swirl the pan to cover the surface 
After a minute, the pancake will start to colour
Shuffle it towards the edge of the pan, 
then flip with a quick flick of the wrist,
Toss that pancake. catch it in the pan 
(or scrape it off the floor) and repeat

The pancakes were light and fluffy with just the perfect amount of colour and  delicate lace edges. It was time to fill them with a delicious combination of sliced banana, apricot jam and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. They looked spectacular on the oval serving dish. It was time for the progressive dinner party to begin. 

After feasting on shrimp cocktail starters, wild pork and roast vegetables washed down with copious quantities of bubbly wine and beer, it was our turn to shine bright. Into the tiny kitchen we squeezed ourselves, brandy bottle and matches at the ready.

The idea was to flame the stack of stuffed pancakes and carry the flaming dish into the dining room to earn gasps of delight and wonder from the assembled guests.

Hmmm – well that was the plan.

Many attempts at lighting the brandy were unsuccessful. Several methods were tried but alas to no avail. Dead matchsticks were strewn across the bench and onto the stack. Tempers flared but the pancakes didn’t.

Belatedly ‘someone’ suggested – maybe we have to heat the brandy first.  So we put a little splash of brandy into a small pot and heated it on the gas stove. Carefully I dipped a teaspoon into the pot. I set a match to the heated brandy. Yay-  that worked but then in the heat of the moment, excitedly and without thinking,  I put the flaming teaspoon back into the pot.  That was so not a good idea. The pot burst into flames. Pandemonium ensued.

“Quickly – pour it onto the pancakes” he shouted. The flames doused instantly. We tried again – same method, same result. And again…. at which point we were giggling hysterically and falling about in fits of laughter. 

“Oh no – just look at that mess.” Feeling a bit like crying whilst laughing, I decided that enough was enough. We carried our burnt offerings into the dining room.

The serving dish was a pathetic mess.  There were piles of dead matches amidst brandy-soaked soggy pancakes. They were stuffed but not in a good way.

The party guests erupted into gales of laughter. Some were brave enough to sample our sozzled, sizzled stack. Others not so brave.  

“Oh well” the host said.  “Our pig dogs might enjoy them”   
The party guests trooped out into the backyard to watch. Yeah nah. Those rude dogs just sniffed and spurned the stuffed pancakes.

 We decided to drink the remaining brandy instead.

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’.