Monthly Archives: November 2014

Over the River and through the woods

It’s the song we sang as kids when we went to our Aunt Carrie’s house for Thanksgiving.  We packed more kids than things into dad’s Packard and took off over the mountain for the four hour trip. One year we actually got a sleigh ride pulled by horses, because our car got stuck in the snow as we were trying to leave.  That was long ago and another story.  Now, I have to think of this song each year as we load up our car with more things than kids, and travel some of those same roads to our cabin in the woods.  We cross, and ride beside the Susquehanna River for much of the way and the wooded Pennsylvania hills were covered with snow this year as we traveled back home. Last year I saved the words to this song, because as many times as this song has gone through my head, I never knew all the words, and still don’t know why they use wood instead of woods.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

As usual this song went through my mind as we arrived at the cabin in the dark and woke up to a blanket of snow on Wednesday morning.

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The cabin is a grand place to spend Thanksgiving.  It has a nostalgic atmosphere, but is comfortable, warm and cozy.

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We have gas heat, a stove, refrigerator and a generator when needed. And oh yes, all the comforts of home,DSCF3906 complete with a warm seat. I’m telling you, our guys think of everything. I am so glad this little house faces away from the cabin. No need to shut the door and the view into the woods is very nice.  We carry in our own water and do have a bucket flush facility indoors.

It is a good place to play with the dog,

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or take long walks to gaze deep into the snow laden woods.

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It’s the place where you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, and Dick deep fries the Thanksgiving Chicken.  Well this year there were only three of us for dinner, so chicken seemed the better option.

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The bird of choice comes out golden, moist and flavorful.

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Gina grilled the sweet potatoes on the back porch, I made the mashed potatoes on the stove along with the stuffing, easy green peas (you’ve got to have something easy and green) and the gravy.  For me it is all about the gravy. I brought a little broth from home added a little Campbell’s and had as much as I wanted, all over the stuffing, chicken and mashed potatoes.

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Quite the satisfying feast! Our thanks centered around the basic things, food, shelter, warmth and love of those present and those who couldn’t be with us.  When we have so much, we must take time to be grateful for those basics which many do without.  Thanksgiving at the cabin is the time to do just that.

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Thanksgiving is not only about the food, but also includes friends.  No better way to end a perfect holiday weekend than to pop corn over an open fire and roast hot dogs out doors with the neighbors a couple of cabins down the road. DSCF3884

Food, fun, family, friends and SNOW makes for a HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEKEND.

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All Saints Day

This past Sunday All Saints Day was celebrated in the church that I was visiting.  This was done by placing a white rose on the altar while mentioning the names of all the church members who had died this past year.  It was particularly meaningful to me as they mentioned the name of a precious friend of mine who had only passed two days previously.  The holiday was instituted centuries ago to honor the Saints who have gone before us, the evening before was known as a “hallowed” eve.  I am not sure how that all plays into how we celebrate Halloween today, which can be anything from a simple fun costumed night of sharing goodies, to an all out conjuring up spirits and other unmentionable rituals, having nothing to do with any saint or church.  I was still contemplating all this while on my usual Monday morning walk along battlefield roads near the Peace Memorial.

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What was different about this walk was that I was doing it alone, having gone through three of my faithful walking partners, it was up to me, myself and I this day.  A good time for contemplation, prayer and thinking of things that I needed to get done.

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Along the familiar path, I suddenly noticed two pennies on the ground before me.  Without thinking much about it I stooped down, picked them up, put them in my pocket and continued my walk.

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It was just after that when things started taking a more unusual turn.  Many times I have walked past this cemetery with my walking partners.  Only once can I remember us even mentioning it being there, let alone going in to take a look around.  But this day, the day after All Saints day, I am drawn to this old cemetery that looks like someone cares for it and I was intrigued that each grave stone was graced with a pretty little bouquet of artificial flowers.  As I came closer I noticed that each stone had at least one penny on the top of it.  A few had several pennies and a lot had two on the headstone.

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Fingering the two pennies I had just moments before placed in my pocket, I had the strange feeling that they should be left here on a tombstone.  I didn’t just drop them willy-nilly on any stone, I walk around and looked and choose two, not for any great reason, other than I was drawn to the name and in the second case the lack of a name and they each only had one penny previously placed.  Alice Lover, what a name, and only 35 years old. I can only wonder about her story.  The other, not too far away, was “unknown man,” 60 years old.  I can’t help but wonder if he was so unknown, how did they know his age.              My pennies are the shiny ones.

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One more shot of the leaning and weather-beaten stones, bearing untold tales.  And one more strange thing, I just bought a book called Tales Behind the Tombstones by Chris Enss.  It is a collection of stories of the people who were part of old west and the events leading to their deaths and burials.  As I was leaving I was still wondering about the stories here and the history of this old cemetery when I saw a car pull up.  The occupants couldn’t get up the hill fast enough.

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These three guys were seriously studying this area.  They had books and the enthusiasm of those who had just discovered something long searched for.   I would bet they could tell me some stories, but, I didn’t ask.

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I just kept to my familiar trail and wondered if this was my weird way of celebrating Halloween, since the only thing I did was buy candy for trick or treaters who never showed up and now I have been eating a fun- sized bar every day since.  I had better just keep walking.

 

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