Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Remembrance of Things Past

    As I have often said, our lives are full of rites and traditions. Some of our childhood ones are tied to national celebrations. The new Easter bonnet, for instance. Others are more personal. Take our family pot cupboard cleaning. It usually occurred in late summer or early fall, though not every year. The adults calculated the timing for this chore, formulating a plan of action after the late news one evening and fine-tuning it the next day. Nearing the time (it always seemed to happen in the afternoon), the sky over distant New York City grew dark, the flag pointed ominously to the west, and the adults would send us to the pot cupboard. We no sooner lined up the roasters, pots, and bowls across the archway, than we heard the wind pick up. Then it arrived, the hurricane-driven rain slamming against the east-facing front of the house, attacking the windows right through the screens, driving the sheets of water on the tinned shed roof uphill, under the flashing and shingles, then down through the archway between house and what had once been an enclosed porch, now dining area, into the waiting pots and pans.

    Outside, our familiar valley was lost in rain, and wind, and eventually evening. We sat around the table, candles and flashlights readied, eating supper. With the passing of the outer edge of the hurricane, pots were emptied, rinsed, dried and returned to the readied cupboard. The family would turn in for the night, lulled into sleep by a now gentler rainfall on the tin roof outside the bedroom windows.

    The weather, like a good book, allows us to be one with our ancestors. Many of our seasonal rites are borne of an instinct for survival. For those of you who knit, the library has several books and publications with patterns for socks, scarves, and hats to keep you and yours warm during the rapidly approaching winter. For those preparing to hibernate, it's time to hit the used book room and choose your reasonably priced supply of winter reading.

    The zucchini recipe swap filled the folder with countless delicious recipes and cleared out many of our gently used cookbooks. Now that you've eaten, baked, and frozen enough zucchini to take you over the winter, you might want to peruse the library bookshelves for fall recipes.

    By all accounts, Twain Along the Mohawk provided a good meal and great entertainment for area families. While generations come and go, an author sometimes remains, his work often uplifting, inspiring, or even timeless. A man given to humor, Samuel Clemens would have enjoyed the evening and been humbled by the enduring popularity of his works. The Kanzashi program, too, was abloom with participants, all of whom took home a finished project. Watch the papers for news of our next craft program.

    Finally, the Fort Plain Free Library will host a discussion of Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle on Wednesday evening, September 29th, at 6:30 at the library with Jennifer Hill as facilitator. Copies of the book are available for loan through the library; the title may also be acquired as a book on CD by placing a request either on line or at the library. For further information, please call the library at (518) 993-4646.