Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Frosty Morning Poems

The frosty mornings of this week called to mind two of my favorite poems This first is by Robert Frost, perhaps not one of his most well-known but what images he creates here.


by Robert Frost

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It's thus he does it of a winter night.

The second is by Ted Kooser, who is probably my favorite poet, if I had to choose just one. His words paint pictures, but there is as much under the surface of the images as a person cares to seek out. Kooser was the 13th US Poet Laureate. His book Winter Morning Walks is my winter morning companion during the cold season.


by Ted Kooser

He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house; 
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.

A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.

Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm—a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Apple Butter Day

Once again some of our family gathered to make apple butter. This weekend was not the ideal weather--it was cold and blowy and rainy, and even sleeted and dropped a few snow flurries on us. But the fire was warm, the laughter was bright, and the house was close by if we really needed to get warm.

The guys have got the art of building the fire and setting up the kettle down so well that I no longer have to be involved in that step. Actually, I think they have the whole process down pat! I made breakfast of sausage gravy and eggs for the crew; some were here overnight, others came at various times during the morning.

We had such a good time. I had made and frozen the apple sauce in advance so that step would be done when we all finally agreed on a date to cook it down. One son brought the jars, and the other brought the sugar.

Everyone brought their appetites for sure! There is nothing like being out in the chilly air to bring on the hungries. After the sauce was cooking well, I went back inside to make lunch: corn and cheese chowder, cornbread, and sandwich makings, all laid out buffet style so everyone could help themselves. There were cookies too, from last week's gathering with my sisters, and plenty of coffee and tea.

We ended up with 63 pints, I think. Larry and I won't need much this year as we still have plenty from last year's batch. But this morning I opened a pint and spread the rich brown butter on my toast. Delicious! A taste that calls back all the many years we have made apple butter together. I am eternally grateful to my neighbor Belva Simons for teaching me how to do this. Belva is gone, but her gift continues to give.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

'Tis the Season! Christmas Carols Program

Sunday, November 26, at 2:00pm Jeff Seager and I will be presenting the first caroling program for this season! Come and join us at the Alpine Theater in Ripley, WV for singalong, stories and a fascinating look at some well-known and some unfamiliar carols.

The next presentation of this program will be on November 30th at 6:00pm at the Philippi Library's Holiday Open House in Philippi, WV. Well-known West Virginia old-time musician David O'Dell will be my partner for this presentation. David plays mountain dulcimer, banjo, fiddle and other instruments. Should be a fine old time!

Other Holiday events are in the works. More about those soon!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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