Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Glimpse of a Summer at Holden

School begins Tuesday and since the beginning of school always signifies the end of summer, I am feeling some pressure to bring you a sampling of photographs that are indicative of Holden Village in the summer: the place, the people, and the summer activities. After all, "The First Day of School" is its own major event here at Holden and I have to make sure that I create a space for that event which will include very special hi jinks and hilarity.

For those of you who have never been to Holden, I have tried to collect a broad sampling from the photographs I have taken here this summer in order that you might come to know that I have not exaggerated any of my descriptions when I have told you about the place. Now you can see it for yourselves.

For those of you who have been to Holden many times, I don't want to hear any comments about what I have left out. I already know what some of things are and eventually, you just have to go with what you've got...or else school will start before you finish your work, and the entire project of summer at Holden will be out-of-date.

I do acknowledge that it is a great loss to post all of these photographs of a Lutheran retreat and have not one picture of a worship service. But while I do not think it is necessarily wrong to take pictures of people while they are worshipping (it's done...even here...and often) I simply am not the one to do it. Such a picture should be included, if for no other reason than the fact that we have a worship service every day. It is an integral part of village life.

So. All that being said by way of introduction, "on with the show!"

On your way up Lake Chelan by boat, you know that you are getting close to the Lucerne dock where you will get off the boat when you pass this waterfall, the Domke Falls. And the blue of this water has not been "enhanced" in any way. The waters of Lake Chelan really are that blue and are quite clear. Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in the US and is quite beautiful, both the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Aboard the Lady of the Lake on Lake Chelan.

The Lady of the Lake pulls into the dock at Lucerne landing. There is no town here, just a Forest Service headquarters and some small vacation cabins owned by the (I use the term advisedly) Chelan Yachting Club. It is here at the Lucerne landing that school buses from Holden meet the guests and then transport them from the dock some 12 miles back (or up and back) into the Railroad Creek valley on a gravel road.

It is a custom for some of our daring young men and equally daring young women to jump off the pilings into the icy waters of Lake Chelan. The feat is performed either as a greeting as the boat approaches or in farewell as the boat departs...and usually only on a very hot day.

Once they have taken the plunge, it is a short and frigid swim back to the dock. They are quickly in and just as quickly out.

This is a portion of the road up from the dock...or back to the dock. There is only one way in by motorized vehicle and one way out and this is it. Those who come up the mountain go back down the mountain. All use this road.

Luggage, on the other hand is piled aboard the luggage truck...along with the groceries, and the mail, and supplies of all sorts. There are no stores at the end of the road. Everything must be brought in by boat or barge and then hauled up the road to the village.

There is always a crowd on hand to meet the incoming bus and the guests who are arriving.

Meet the Mayor of Holden Village, Olaf Coffey. Olaf is almost always on hand to climb aboard each bus filled with guests to say (with gusto) , "velcomtaholdnevullage!" His mayoral duties will be interrupted by school this next year. He will be in kindergarten.

Children visiting Holden in the summer enjoy a variety of activities in their morning program at Narnia. Here a group of the Narnia children take a tour of the small garden that is protected from the deer by a very high fence.

I did not take this picture. Gail Johnson, the bookkeeper at Holden, did so. I had walked outside Agape where we both live and this rather remarkable buck was eating just off to the side of the porch. I called to her to bring her camera, and she took the picture, which she then captioned, "The Buck Stops Here."

Famous for its "Holden Scoops" the snack bar is a popular spot for young and old alike. The ice cream itself is delicious and perhaps made even more delicious by the fact that it is very likely the one thing you would least expect to have access to in the wilderness.

Families (here a grandmother and her two granddaughters) enjoy an ice cream cone on a hot afternoon.

A summer day in a mountain meadow, about a mile from the village itself, that Holdenites call "the ball field" after the fact that in the days the mine was operative, the place was actually used as a ball field. Snow-covered Bonanza Peak towers above the entire scene.

The Ark is a favorite gathering place to sit with friends and enjoy the sun, to read, to take a nap, to enjoy the scenery.

The covered bridge crosses Railroad Creek and provides a way for those who are "on foot" to get to the other side and on up to trails, the museum, to the mine site itself, and to various functioning utilitarian facilities serving the village (the hydroelectric plant, the garbage disposal area where composting and incinerating and landfill take place, the automotive shop, wood cutting, etc.).

Lead cook, Mary Sather, is actually making marshmallows for a staff social in Agape. I honestly did not know that you could make marshmallows yourself. The ingredients are simple but the process is fairly tricky and requires attention to the constantly checking the thermometer. The marshmallows were delicious.

Chipmunks rule. Period.

The portable inkle loom is a highly popular craft option with young and old alike.

All summer we enjoyed fresh fruit. Here a peach ripens in my room. We were also privileged to enjoy apricots, plums, cherries, as well as the more usual apples, oranges, and bananas.

A musical group performs outdoors during the Jubilee celebration.

The kiosk is required reading for those interested in knowing the day's scheduled events.

Mary's jams made from locally grown fruit.

Reading or simply taking a small nap under a shade tree is a favorite summer activity.

That same shade tree can serve the children as a place to hear their morning story.
Three chairs suitable for lounging, napping, reading or sleeping await their next users under the same shade tree.

Virtually every guest coming to Holden is willing to volunteer for a major work project such as this one to construct flower beds and lay a rock walk. They will also readily volunteer for smaller projects such as joining a dish team, cleaning the dining hall after meals, and volunteering in Narnia for a morning. It is just what they do...and willingly.
Outdoor buffets are quite common in the summer. The weather is most often warm and sunny and conducive to having families and friends eat outside, sitting on the lawn or on the lodge porches to do so.
One of the local squirrels. This one was tearing the leaves off the tree one-by-one and letting them fall to earth. I could never figure why it was doing that or what nourishment or behavioral satisfaction it was obtaining from the ritual.

Begun as an Eagle Scout project by one of Holden Village's boarding students, there are now 2 yurts ready for campers as an alternative to tent camping and as an alternative to staying in a lodge withing the village. They are located about a mile out of the village near the "ball field."

Narnia kids visit the carpentry shop and learn how to saw.

Older Narnia kids have an outside pottery lesson.

A group of young teens play cards on a rainy day on the porch outside the book store.

To all of my purist southern friends and family members: this is a hand-cranked churn of homemade ice cream and that is the dasher you see coming out of the churn.

Railroad Creek with a view up the creek toward Bonanza. Railroad Creek runs through the valley in which Holden Village is located.

Strings of flamingo lights adorn the porch of Agape.

And one smaller flamingo has taken up residence in the flower box.

Four real birds (swallows) peering out from their nest under the eaves and over the registration office. The mother swallow worked tirelessly to make sure the young were fed.

Each morning at 10:00 there was a half hour interval called coffee break. Many guests and staff members took their coffee and their morning treat to the Ark to sit in the morning sun and enjoy.

Cafe Holden featured inside dining at the evening meal. Groups of 8 were seated and served together.

Wet bathing suits and towels drying on a lodges railing provide evidence that a family has enjoyed spending time in the jacuzzi.

Luggage for departing guests is brought to the luggage dock where it will put on the luggage truck and taken down to Lucerne to be put on the boat.

It is a tradition at Holden for staff members and guests not leaving on a given day to gather as the buses depart and to wave farewell to those who are departing. It is also a tradition that the waving continue until the buses are out of sight.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Signs of Fall

One clump of bright orange berries and one very yellow leaf do not in themselves constitute the beginning of the fall season. But as I rode my bicycle to the labyrinth today, I encountered the bright yellow leaf on the road in the path of the bicycle. It was the first yellow leaf that I have seen this year. The clump of ripened berries was nearby on the trail to Hart Lake.

There are other signs of the approaching fall season as well. The days are quite noticeably shorter. The sun rises later and sets earlier, and the angle at which its light enters and leaves the valley is altogether different from what it was in mid-June. The flowers in the garden are obviously on the decline, most of them gone already to seed. The days are a bit cooler and the nights have turned quite chilly...nights for fleece!

There are still some birds around the village, but I think a good portion of them have already begun their trek south for the winter. Their numbers have diminished. If we could only convince our pesky bears that now would be as good a time as any for them to hibernate! They are having no part of it. We awoke early this morning to see the big male bear(we are very familiar with this bear) sitting on the porch of Lodge 3 with the garbage can turned upside down over its head. A bear like this can't be told anything!

And now that it is beginning to be fall, I will very soon attempt to put on this site some of the many pictures I have taken of Holden during what seems to me to be a very short summer. (You have to understand that for a Floridian, a summer lasts 6 months.)

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Snow on the Mountain

I was standing outside the dining hall when I took this picture. That by way of saying that I was still in the village and not out on some wilderness trail somewhere at great altitude. This is fresh snow on the top of this mountain. We have had two full days of a really wonderful and constant, soaking rain. Even people who do not care for rain have been grateful for this one, as a fire suppressant if nothing else. The rain was also, as is so often the case, accompanied by mists in the higher regions. When the rains stopped and the mists cleared during the night, we looked up in the early morning and saw this dusting of snow on the peaks. Here, we refer to that as weather. In Florida, it would be called a miracle.

Here is a view from the porch of Agape during the rains.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peace and Beauty

Having walked the paths
Having traversed the roads
Having climbed the hills
Searching everywhere
For evidence of peace
For objects of beauty,
I looked up
From where I sat
Working on some task
I had assigned myself
And beheld
On the corner
Of the desk
A vase of pussy willows
And two ripening peaches.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Adios Amigos!

There is only one way in. And only one way out. You come up the valley. You go back down the valley. And so it is that our visitors here for the week of Abriendo Caminos have departed.

And if you are thinking that those of us left behind in the village are saddened by this occasion, you would be wrong. The buses taking the week's departing guests to the boat returned filled with new guests coming into the village. We had no time to be sad. In the space of just a couple hours, there were rooms to clean, food to prepare, and a veritable ton of laundry to wash in order to re-stock the shelves. If you weren't already assigned one of the critical roles, you volunteered for one. Turnovers happen at lightning speed and are sometimes significant in size, as this one was.

But everyone seems of one mind that the special week of Abriendo Caminos was a success. Left behind...many of the brightly colored tissue paper decorations and many fond memories. The memories, of course, last longer than the decorations. And what will I remember? Well, the tamale line was fairly impressive, to name one thing. The call went out for people to show up at a certain hour on a certain day to assemble tamales. And by the way, every "call that went out" for people to come and help was answered with the extravagant gifts of personal time and energy.

With all of the prep work already completed, assembly of tamales begins in earnest with the filling of the corn husk wrappers with a healthy portion of cooked masa.

The next task in the assembly of the tamale is filling the corn husk wrapper lined with masa with the spicy meat filling found in the center when the tamale is folded.
Yes, there is meat...and sometimes a lot of meat... served at Holden Village. Here Norma Gallegos supervises as the carne asada is cooked on the outdoor grill behind the dining hall. This was on the menu for the night of the fiesta.

The mariachi band entertained near the outdoor "ark" with music and singing while everyone ate the fiesta dinner.
There were 3 pinata lines going simultaneously, one for each of the age groups. Joseph Coffey appears to be trying to get his bearings and figure out where the pinata is located. It did not matter. The pinata is manipulated by a handheld rope. If the person with the stick appears to be getting too close, the pinata can be pulled up and out of reach or can be pulled to one side or another.
After the fall of the pinata, Joseph (obviously) got a good share of the candy inside.

A hole was finally punched in the side of this pinata and the candy came spilling out intermittently. The children reach up toward the source.

These young girls were part of a group of dancers who performed several Hispanic dances. They and their dances were quite charming.

After dancing, the young girls led everyone on a procession through the village to bless all of the buildings that serve each and every one. At each there was a special blessing given in both Spanish and English to the accompaniment of music and song.

The mariachi band, seen here just behind the girls, also led the procession with their music and drumming. The lead group also included both a priest and a pastor. Stops were made at the school, the village center, Koininea, a lodge, and the dining hall...each representative of a significant part of village life.

This beautiful sky was the end of MY fiesta day. The music and the dancing continued on into the night around the "ark". A good time was had by all.