Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tender Mercies: Telefonos

Recently, we had a part of a meal that was prepared as a commemoration of a date in 1940 when Carroll and Mary Hinderlie successfully led refugees out Norway, through Germany, and into Naples. When they arrived by train in Naples, they had no money and survived for the time being on Suppli al Telefonos or Telefonos for short.

Telefonos are an Italian street food, inexpensive and filling. It is basically a croquette made with either leftover risotto or with rice. The name comes from the fact that when you either bite into one or pull it apart, the mozzarella cheese in the center will stretch out like telephone wires.

The recipe is very simple. The rice or the risotto is lightly seasoned and then pressed into a small cake. A slice of fresh mozzarella goes on top and then another small cake of rice or risotto on top of that...thus your basic croquette, which is then rolled in bread crumbs and pan fried in a bit of olive oil.

Carroll and Mary Hinderlie's son, Paul Hinderlie, is one of the current directors at Holden Village.
Years ago, Carroll and Mary Hinderlie lived at Holden in the very early years of the village and Carroll was a director.

Telefonos were prepared for us by Paul as a fitting tribute to his parents for their courage and leadership in some very difficult times some 68 years ago.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ensconced at the Top of the Hill

I am finally in my room in the lodge that is serendipitously called Agape...and I think everything is going to fit in just fine. I need a couple large stones to serve as bookends. I need to get the leaves on my bodhi lights unfurled. The tails on my wind sock hanging on the door are slowly uncrumpling...and I am coming to you via living off the crumbs that fall from the entitled man's table...Wi-Fi Agape by virtue of the fact that the IT Person, the Business Manager, and her husband, a Manager, all reside here...and they all like to "work from home." Hence, Agape is wireless and that capability includes the service for those of us who are mere minions and also live here.

The only disappointment that I have with my room is that the view is somewhat less than I had envisioned. I had never been inside the room until its former occupant left. Because it situated on the high part of Holden and because it faces the beautifully situated peaks of Buckskin, Copper, and Dumbell, I had thought the view would be "something to write home about." Well, I guess I am writing home about it, but what I actually see from my windows is almost solely the underside of the roof of the front porch to the lodge. Just off to the left side of my left window...if I get down low and look up...I can see a piece of the panorama that is a wonder, but just a piece.

I can, however, determine the day's weather before I venture outside, and from what I have seen, it would be my guess that this will be another (we have already had 3-in-a-row) perfect day. When I say perfect, I mean perfect...if you like sunshine, blue skies, white puffy clouds, warm temperatures...those few of us who are rain lovers and lovers of the fogs and the mists and the chills, we will have to acquiesce on a day like today and just revel in the glory of what we sometimes have to put up with. And glorious it is. I intend not to content myself with the view to the left side of my left hand window and instead to get out in it, fill my lungs with some sweet mountain air.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Morning of Magic

I awoke early, as is my wont, and as soon as I could truthfully say that I was fully awake, I noticed the complete silence outside my window. The voices of my little avian alarm clocks who usually usher me into each new day, whether I am ready to be ushered or not, were preternaturally stilled.

I went to the window and opened the blinds.

It was snowing.

The nearby mountains are covered in snow and this time the Village is sharing in the dusting that in the last few days we have seen only at the higher elevations.

And it is not "so quiet". It is "snow quiet." A silence far beyond what might be thought possible even out here in the wilderness.

Even the birds honor and respect it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Another great-looking Sunday seems to be ahead of us. I won't be riding my bicycle down to Lake Chelan today. Instead, I am going to go in the opposite direction and ride the bike out to the point where you actually enter the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. There are no bikes allowed on the trail that begins there and which will take you on to either Hart Lake or Holden Lake. I plan to hike into the woods a bit, probably to the point where the trail splits, one fork to Hart Lake and the other to Holden Lake.

Today was to have been one of those really, really special days. Ben and Kim, Andrew and Rosa were to have arrived on Friday and as a part of today's Sunday service, Andrew and Rosa were to have been baptized. Instead, they are somewhere in central California after having endured a military "space available" flight on a jump seat in a C17 flight from Hawaii (there was always plenty of space....the flights were canceled before taking off). This flight got them to Travis AFB in California from which point they decided they were too exhausted to try to make a visit to Holden and Seattle (driving up in a car rental) and besides, Ben had used up almost half of his leave just trying to get on this flight. So they are there and there are many disappointed kith and kin here and in Seattle who had hoped to see them. They will make another attempt in late September or early October. They haven't said as much to me, but I doubt they will even consider the "space available" option.

I have left the laundry to another caretaker/slave master and have finished my first week of work/training in the post office. Initial assessments indicate the new position will require far less physical work but a lot more attention to minutiae. There is always a swap-off, it seems. The winter combination of Postei/laundry may turn out to be a good balance.

Holden Village's version of Graduation Day was yesterday. The ceremony was held out on the Village Green...we made ourselves comfortable on yard blankets. There was one graduate and the audience hummed (loudly) "Pomp and Circumstance". The graduate wore a graduation gown from the costume shop, an official looking mortar board, and flip-flops. His graduation certificate was hand-carved by a village carpenter and was quite lovely. There were speeches and remembrances and songs and poems. A great day.

The night before we had enjoyed the traditional Graduation Dinner. This year the graduate himself selected the menu and was in charge of preparing the dinner. He had worked on a senior project on sustainable farming in general and grass-fed vs. corn-fed meat products specifically. He had done all the research, written all the papers, investigated local sustainable farming practices, ordered the food from those local farms and the meal was his final achievement...roasted ham, mashed root vegetables, sauteed fresh spinach, and meringues with berries and whipped cream...we were of one mind that he had passed the test! He had also made a presentation on his findings to the villagers gathered one evening and answered their equivalent to "orals" i would say.

This week promises to be relatively quiet...I think. Next Sunday 160 volunteers arrive for Work Week. This event is held every two years and people come in to volunteer to work on major projects (construction, painting, trail work, etc.) for a week. I have never been at Holden for this event but I am told that much-needed work is done. I know that much planning and work has gone into the event already as all the supplies and tools and whatever have to be here when the volunteers arrive. There is no Home Depot just across town.

Weather! We have to discuss the weather! Very chilly. There has been snow for several nights now...not in the Village itself, but at higher elevations. It is quite beautiful, really, to walk out every morning and see a dusting of new snow on the mountaintops. "During the night, the Unseen Hand gave cast..."

...but those were the first lines to a poem I wrote a long time ago...a poem written on a Sunday morning in Florida in the summer. I was broke. My air conditioner was broken, and I couldn't afford to get it repaired. I was at my "desk" which was a card table situated in a window to catch the slightest puff of a breeze. The paper on which I was writing was literally adhering to my arms from the perspiration. The kids were out running the street on which we lived...Bobby Lane...which was a fairly dangerous thing to do in those days as Bennett Rich might at any time came down the street (naked except for his plaid bathrobe tied with a rope) packing heat, the holster clearly visible outside his bathrobe...but I digress...I do not exaggerate, but I do digress...other days, other ways...and we survived, somehow.

Friday, June 6, 2008

To Separate a Bear from Its Breakfast

We have had several unusual encounters with what I might be forced to describe as "God's Way." We are witnessing bears snapping up and carrying off and...we have to assume... EATING" newborn fawns, supposedly a great delicacy with the bears. I have not seen this myself, but those who have are greatly affected by the sights...and the sounds...of it all.

Deer seem to have come to know that the grounds of the Village itself offer a relatively safe place to come to nibble away at some nice vegetation and as a birthing place. We have witnessed a number of does giving birth close by, even inside the outer perimeter of village structures...this year and in previous years. As soon as the fawns are up and mobile enough to get about quickly on their own, the doe and her offspring will move on.

Bears, which are always around Out There seem to have discovered Holden as a birthing place and a potential meal ticket to what I am told they consider to be their greatest delicacy, a baby fawn. Such a meal beats out berries and leaves by a long shot.

For those of us who sit atop the "Chain of Being," these encounters are not easy to consider, and certainly not easy to witness. The fawns are so "cute." The bear cubs needing food are so "cute." And some of us are having to witness "cute" gone to wildness. Wildness is at our very doorsteps. It is so easy to forget that because we are so civilized here.

A visit to a slaughterhouse or a poultry processing plant or a pig farm might offer us the perspective we need.

Wilderness A la Carte

Wilderness mothers
Do not have the option
Of sustaining the life of an offspring
With a cellophane-wrapped
Boneless and skinless
Eyeless and hoof less
Hunk of bloodless meat
In a Styrofoam tray.

Wilderness mothers
Are subject to do-it-or-die necessity.
They must sustain their young
By first stealing a new-born offspring
From another mother.
The whole of it.
Bones, skin, eyes, hooves.
And it screaming all the while.

The cute bear cubs
Watch from on high in a tree,
While their mother returns with dinner,
A cute newborn fawn
Hanging from her teeth.

The bears,
Sated and sustained
And without a trace of triumph,
Sleep well through the night.

The doe,
With no notion of grief,
Roams the night woods
With swollen milk sacs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Spring Rain

This is it.

This is the cold clear rain
That falls from its own weight
Out of a soft gray sky.

There is no storm.
There is no wind
To drive it hither and yon.
This rain falls straight to earth from the sky.

But gently.

Outside my window
The drops tick down
On gravel and stone.

There is gurgling
In the water spout
At the roof's edge.

Chirp their approval.

Turn in the loosened soil.

Bend over in gratitude.

And high atop the mountain,
Into and out of the crevices,
God assumes the various forms
Of the ever-changing mist.


Looking on.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Run for the Money and Three for the Show

I may have inadvertently found my way to an addiction that is going to take a 12-Step Program to cure. It is riding my bicycle down to Lake Chelan.

Gail Johnson (bookkeeper) and Debi Gustafson (assistant to the registrar) and I took off yesterday morning on our bikes and headed down the big hill to the lake. Now I must admit from the outset that we did not ride the dreaded switchbacks. Prior to leaving, we had heard some (many) graphic horror stories of bicycle accidents on the switchbacks and we elected to ride our bikes down to the top of the switchbacks and wait for the bus to pick us up and take us the rest of the way down. For those of you unfamiliar with Holden the steepest part of the ascent to the Village comes at the beginning of the journey up from the lake. A series of switchbacks allows the traveler to gain a fair amount of altitude in a short distance. From there, the incline is more gradual but always up, up, up until you reach Holden. If you are headed in the opposite direction, you are always going down, down, down...and if you can control yourself and your need for speed, control the inherent danger or going TOO fast and applying brakes too quickly, and if you can keep yourself focused on the exact path of your front tire, watching every rock and stone and soft spot and loose gravel...then you will arrive exhilarated at the top of the switchbacks about 8 miles down the road. It was quite a ride.

We had packed a sandwich and once at the bottom rode our bikes on over to Refrigerator Harbor and ate our lunch. We then investigated a cave that years ago had been blasted out of the rocks and was used for the mining company to store their explosives. We visited with the llamas at the Forest Service headquarters...the llamas are being used to haul equipment and supplies into the forest for trail clearing and clean-up. They did not seem to be too fond of having visitors. We came back to the Lucerne dock to await the arrival of the afternoon boat and our ride back up the mountain.

While waiting, I had removed my backpack and bike helmet and left them by my bicycle. When it was time to go, I picked up my backpack and was about to put it on when there issued from within it a whole lot of movement. A chipmunk, smelling the remains of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich had made himself at home in the pack.

It was a great ride down. It was especially interesting to get down to the level of the fire zones of last year and see everything destroyed and the colors all brown, and black, and gray...but on the floor of the forest, green shooting up everywhere. I was also amazed at the dogwood blooms at lower elevations...the flowers were huge...about the size of a standard saucer. Quite beautiful. There are major differences in the vegetation you see at the level of the lake as compared with the vegetation you find at Holden. There were many wildflowers blooming and they were beautiful as well.

A great day.