Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Oh, it's the Far Northland that's a callin' me away!

I am leading a womens' retreat to the BWCA this summer, and thought I'd post some images from past Boundary Waters trips.  We will be on a big lake, full of islands.  One is called Three Mile Island, to give a sense of scale.

We camp on the lake shore, which is often rocky.  One can hear the water lapping on the shore, and the loons and whip-poor-wills calling.

The surrounding forest is generally mixed pine, fir, and softwoods like birch and aspen.  There are some astounding and ancient cedars.
By August we can hope for fair weather.

I believe this was a picture of our whole family's gear before we loaded the canoe!  We try to pack light.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How Green Was My Valley

 "O, Brandy Broth is the King of Broth and royal in the rooms of the mouth.  A good chicken and a noble piece of ham, with a little shoulder of lamb, small to have the least of grease, and then a paste of the roes of trout with cream, a bit of butter, and the yolk of egg, whipped tight and poured in when the chicken, proud with a stuffing of sage and thyme, has been elbowing the lamb and the ham in the earthenware pot until all three are tender as the heart of a mother.  In with the carrots and turnips and the goodness of marrow bones, and in with a mixing of milk and potatoes.  Now watch the clock and every fifteen minutes pour in a noggin of brandy, and with the first a pint of home-brewed ale.  Two noggins in, and with the third, throw in the chopped bottoms of leeks, but save the green leaves until ten minutes from the time you sit to eat, for then you shall find them still a lovely green.
Drink down the liquor and raise your eyes to give praise for a mouth and a belly, and then start upon the chicken."

  I recently read How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn, upon the urgent commendations of my mother.  It was beautiful.  It was melancholic and nostalgic.  Friends who would rather not read a book unless assured of a happy ending might as well just skip this one, alas. 
"My father always said that money was made to be spent just as men spend their strength and brains in earning it and as willingly.  But just as they work with a purpose, so the results of that work should be spent with a purpose and not wasted.  So in our family, since all the grown-ups were earning except my sisters and my mother and me, there was always thought before the tin was taken out of the kitchen."
"A hundred years before, a craftsman in wood had put love into his job for all men to see in that little pattern of grained woods on the lid and round the sides.  There was not need for him to spend those hours, for the box was made, but that pattern was his kiss of love, and I could see his hands passing over its smoothness, feeling its weight, having joy from the look and feel of it, and slow to let is pass into the hands of a buyer."
"O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live for ever in the wideness of that rich moment."
"There is happy are hens.  All day they peck for sweet bits in the ground, twice they come for corn, and in the mornings they shout the foof off to have you to come and see their eggs.  And no trouble to anybody.  I do like a little hen, indeed.  A minder of her own business, always, and very dainty in her walk and ways."

"Bad thoughts and greediness, Huw," my father said.  "Want all, take all, and give nothing.  The world was made on a different notion.  You will have everything from the ground if you will ask the right way.  But you will have nothing if not.  Those poor men down there are all after something they will never get.  They will never get it because their way of asking is wrong.  All things come from God, my son.  All things are given by God, and to God you must look for what you will have.  God gave us time to get His work done, and patience to support us while it is being done.  There is your rod and staff.  No matter what others may say to you, my son, look to god in your troubles.  And I am afraid what is starting down by there, now this moment, is going to give you plenty of troubles in times to come."

"Gaslight, when it came, made people want to read less, for comfort perhaps, and electric light sent them to bed earlier because it was dearer.  But when did people stop being friends with their mothers and fathers, and itching to be out of the house, and going mad for other things to do, I cannot think.  It is like and asthma, that comes on a man quickly.  He has no notion how he had it, but there it is, and nothing to cure it."