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Thread: Daily Bread

  1. #201
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Williamsmith View Post
    And realizing that I come from a background steeped in environmental resource management, I turned back the clock by checking the twenty or so books I regularly keep as a struggling minimalist. Knowing that among them sat a very important essay by a man I learned to appreciate as a very young “environmentalist”. I reflected on the lessons my own uncle taught me as the Superintendent of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and am a little embarrassed to acknowledge I have strayed from some of that awareness he encouraged me to focus on.

    And so the book was taken down from the shelf and opened to the first page. Published in 1949, everyone with a tiny bit of conservation exposure will immediately recognize the author. The first paragraph I had read over and over countless times but for some reason this last time seemed more profound.......

    ”There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.”

    There is no doubt that I fit in this category also.
    I'll have to look up that book. There is a history of great writing in this century by those who love wild things.

    Right now I'm reading my favorite "wild thing" author: Gene Logsdon. Specifically, I'm reading A Sanctuary of Trees which is just great. I think you would like it, Williamsmith. Put it on your list for Santa. You are probably familiar with other books he's written.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  2. #202
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    I'll have to look up that book. There is a history of great writing in this century by those who love wild things.

    Right now I'm reading my favorite "wild thing" author: Gene Logsdon. Specifically, I'm reading A Sanctuary of Trees which is just great. I think you would like it, Williamsmith. Put it on your list for Santa. You are probably familiar with other books he's written.
    Ill tell you what, I’ll read your book but I’ll have to order it from Amazon, Santa creeps me out.

  3. #203
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    I wonder how many times I have gotten in the way of someone trying to help me, simply out of sheer ignorance or lack of perspective or impatience or all three......

    Aldo Leopold:

    “My dog does not care where heat comes from, but he cares ardently that it come, and soon. Indeed he considers my ability to make it come as something magical, for when I rise in the cold black pre-Dawn and kneel shivering by the hearth making a fire, he pushes himself blandly between me and the kindling splits I have laid on the ashes, and I must touch a match to them by poking it between his legs. Such faith, I suppose, is the kind that moves mountains.”

    For anyone who lived as I did in the countryside where oak wood was favored for heating ones home and for those same people who did so as I did in the 1970s during the “energy crisis”.....the smell of split oak is an aroma I will never forget. I will also never forget where heat really comes from. Heat comes from “work”, throwing an axe, pounding a steel mall into a round, stacking a cord of wood so that it will season..... not from a thermostat on the wall. As does food come from the garden and not from the grocery store.

    I remember when natural gas would heat the home rather conveniently and then one day a wood stove showed up and with it a ritual of cutting, splitting, stacking, hauling and getting up early in the morning to stoke a fire in a shiver. I went away to college in the late 1970s and strangely missed the feeling of providing heat for the family. When I returned on breaks it was a wonderful thing to approach the house and see the evidence of a wood fire burning in the living room fireplace insert and walk inside and smell the combustion of oak. And I could sit and stare at the fire because the stove had a glass window on its door. We not only had a stove upstairs but one in the basement and it kept the wooden floor toasty. But only if you fed it and only if you had the wood to burn...and only if you worked for it.

    I still have a fire to sit by in the winter. These days, natural gas provides an instant fire at the touch of a zapper next to my recliner. It’s no less warm but I have to imagine the aroma of oak and close my eyes to hear the crackling and popping of a real fire. I sometimes wish I had a dog to share the fireplace with. Sometimes.

  4. #204
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    In the words of a very talented luthier who plys his craft in a small workshop in the mountains of western Virginia, “You make a guitar by taking a block of wood and you remove everything that doesn’t look like a guitar.” That explanation and the following perhaps together best explain my understanding of the quest for harmony in life:

    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

    I have lived out of a tiny suitcase for the past 10 days. There is nothing left that can be taken away, yet I am not in harmony with my surroundings. I am in a city where noise overwhelms me. Sirens, traffic, city sounds, a mad rush to get from point A to point B and let no one get between. I have scrawled down the calendar date of each day in two lines. As each day passes, I place an X through the date and count the remaining days. When half of the time has passed, I have a private celebration.

    Even my attempts to help pass the time have only provided relief as an aspirin would a migraine headache. I make a side trip to a tourist location three hours away. I attend religious service with the family, I visit a zoo, I tour an NFL football field and a World Series venue, I go shopping at a mall. The crowds threaten to suffocate me.

    At home snow buries the landscape under 60 inches of frozen precipitation. I long to be buried. And thawed out by the fire. In the morning I will board a plane and three hours later return to my comfort zone. The farther north I drive the more content I will grow until finally I will return and take up residence in my place like a child hugging its favorite blanket.

    I do not travel well. That is a fact my family understands but still they pretend to forget. There is talk about another trip in the summer back here. A month was the mentioned timeline. I have given up being nice about it. I said I’d compromise, I’d come down for five days and fly back at the end of the month. Aloneness and loneliness are not the same to me. I believe there is still a bit more that can be removed.

  5. #205
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Winter has frozen us solid. The wind is constant in its complaining outside my window. The fireplace is an island of peace that is not threatened by any length of power outage. I occasionally shovel away the snow that builds up in front of the garage door and then scrape at the ice under it. I go next door and do the same for a neighbor who is hospitalized. The newspaper is frozen stiff in the morning. The ink even seems to be thankful to be brought inside and thawed.

    The sun has gone south on vacation. It has followed the Canadians south on the nearby interstate. Once daily a snowplow grinds at the road and deposits the frozen ice and salt mixture along the berm. Even the plow creates beauty in this stark landscape, though I suspect the driver merely sees a chore and a paycheck. A chickadee thanks me as he hauls a sunflower seed to a frozen branch and consumes its heart. Every motion, every flight expends energy that must be replaced by food. How can one so small endure the single digit temperatures?

    Like darkness is the absence of light; cold is the absence of warmth. My boots insulate my feet from the cold, my gloves keep my hands from frostbite. A walk outside reminds you of how naked and ephemeral you are. Without support only a few moments from eternity. The nearby arbor vitae probably provides a cardinal with shelter. Under the snow, a mouse has made a nest of grass. But you stand in the wind, defiant.

    The snow crunches under your boot with every step. You look down keeping your tender eyes from the winds but you gaze up quickly scanning the path ahead. A bit of lip balm and a turn of the shoulder into the gusty frosting wind as you slide behind the protection of an oak. A squirrel has been out digging hidden treasures. He is nowhere to be seen but a leaf nest above gives a hint. Perhaps he looks down and considers you for a moment. Perhaps he is fast asleep.

    You return being pushed home by the relentless howling breathe of old man winter. The ice crystals pass over your shoulder and your hand cups around your eyes. Crunch, crunch...crunch crunch.....crunch crunch. Light has been rationed. You are thankful snow is white.

    https://youtu.be/piUDbCtgymw

  6. #206
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    This is exquisite Williamsmith. Thank you.

  7. #207
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nswef View Post
    This is exquisite Williamsmith. Thank you.
    No.....thank you!

  8. #208
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I think those of us in the North have a special opportunity to experience the cold mixed with the light of the snow. It's tough, but it's crisp and sure. You feel good when you can confront it. It goes away in the spring, but you always think, see you next year, you tough taskmaster! I could never live in a place without the four seasons.

    I loved the YouTube as well, although most of the time I was wondering why you posted a YouTube on Annie Liebovitz, although I LOVE Annie Liebovitz. But I did ultimately wind up with Audrey Assad's song, which was lovely.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  9. #209
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    I’ve always been in love with all things made of glass. I can trace it back to the presence of glass in my childhood. On the south facing wall of my parents craftsman house were two small stained glass windows. What they were doing there I don’t know. They certainly weren’t functional but they were inspirational to a child. They were simple designs of squares, rectangles, triangles and semi circles and they were my first exposure to simple art. I went back to visit that house some fifty years after my childhood and sadly the windows were gone. I would have loved to reclaim them.

    In that same craftsman house the windows were single pane and had irregular swirls on occasion. They were wood and rotted by the condensation of repeated cold winters. Each window was raised by hooking your index finger under a metal flange designed perfectly for the human hand and placed at the bottom of the frame. Here were hidden lead ballasts in the side of the window frame that assisted you in lifting them. They would often not slide easily but rubbing a bar of ivory soap on the rails usually helped. When a storm hit, those windows rattled. During the winter, I liked to chip the ice that had formed off the inside with my nail. Sometimes I just wrote my name in the frost.

    At school the milk came in glass pints with little cardboard tops with a tab to help remove it. Cold chocolate milk delivered in a glass is way better than any other method. I can still hear the tinkle and rattle of the empty pints in their metal carriers.

    And there was the leather pouch with a drawstring containing my collection of cat eye marbles. Putting two or more in your hand and rubbing them together made a unique glass induced grinding sound. Shooting one into anther with your thumb produced a satisfying glass collision. Their patterns seemed infinite. Invariably a marble would find its way into my army navy store jean pocket and then into the wash. A marble makes a big racket in the dryer.

    Of course, canning jars were unbiquitous in my family. But there was one special type that I found to be more art than function. It was the Atlas E-Z seal spring lid beauty. It had a glass bubble lid that was clamped with bailing wire. Perhaps that why fifty years later while browsing my favorite indoor flea market, I came across one.......or it came across me. I had been looking for the perfect container for my ground coffee. I think I found it. I think I also found a good place to develop my sourdough bread starter. Yeah, I got two.

    Its not surprising that my living room has two semicircular windows, high up on the south facing wall. And that each one has variable colored suncatchers hungthere. I have a firefly, a hummingbird, two goldfinches, a sun, an Indian head (vintage) and a tulip.

    My Atlas canning jar is forming well as a coffee container. The coffee tastes better somehow. It has imperfect bubbles in the glass if you look carefully. Just the way I want it.

  10. #210
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    williamsmith, You brightened my day evoking memories of glass! I too have suncatchers- blue for each room to protect from the "evil eye". My macaroni is kept in a glass canning jar with bale? bail? wire that I just could not get rid of years ago. Thank you for the reminders of beauty all around.

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