helping hand

RenoufHelpingHand
“The Helping Hand” by Émile Renouf

The first time I ever saw a print of this painting was at an estate sale, not long after my father died on September 19th in 2013. The expression on the man’s face reminded me of my father and the little girl reminded me of myself so I bought it. It’s not in the greatest condition and the coloring is way off. Perhaps the coloring on this digital copy is off, too. Some day I may replace it with a better copy.

He’s been gone for three years now and I still miss him, my favorite teacher. Papa taught me how to wash my hair, how to cross the street, how to trust my own instincts, how to treat animals, how to be compassionate and kind, how to swim, how to ice skate, how to paddle a canoe, how to chop an onion, how to look up words in a dictionary, how to do research, how to enjoy bird-watching, how to garden, how to walk (and play) in the woods — the list goes on. I think of him every time I do any of those things.

It’s almost autumn and I will be eating as many Macoun apples as I can while the season lasts. They were his favorites. He often told me the following story when I was growing up. (It first appeared almost 6 years ago on my blog!)

When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!
~ Barbara Rodgers
(Iduna: Keeper of Apples)

But perhaps I miss him the most whenever I hear a story on the news about a threat from a new virus or other infectious agent. Dad was a microbiologist and was utterly fascinated with microorganisms — viruses, bacteria, spirochetes, amoebas, fungi, parasites. He would never tire of explaining things about them to me and correcting any misinformation the media might be passing along to his fellow citizens. And I never tired of listening. I find myself wondering what he would have had to say about the Zika virus. It’s not easy finding someone so interested in this subject!

I didn’t notice it at first, but my father died on his older brother’s birthday. Jon Stephen was born on September 19th in 1909 in Ukraine. My father, Theodore William, never knew his older brother because Jon died of a ruptured appendix on March 15th in 1919 in New York, when he was only 9 years old. Papa was born three years later on March 13th in 1922. A little bit of synchronicity there I think.

Still missing you, my dear old Papa!

an apple drops

carl.larsson.apple-harvest
“The Apple Harvest” by Carl Larsson

Life can be so long, now and then
lasting all of months on end
broken by tall grass,
deep-flowing rivers
and kisses
that last no longer than an apple takes
to drop
in that fleeting second between summer and fall.
~ Terje Johanssen
(The Magic of Fjords)

ordinary lives

“Teen & Children” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905) French Academic Painter
“Teen & Children” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.
~ William Martin
(The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents)

Our wait continues…

Yesterday I went with Larisa to see one of her midwives for a routine appointment and everything looks good, except that Mother Nature doesn’t seem inclined to acknowledge the human-determined due date! So, if nothing happens before Thursday night labor will be induced on Friday morning.

I vaguely remember my mother saying I was two weeks late and had to be delivered with forceps. And first babies are often late, they say. I had three planned Cesareans so all of my babies were born a few days before their due dates. But we’re still enjoying watching the little one wiggle around in her mother’s womb!

wild comfort

5.10.13.5250
apple blossoms ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

The bottom may drop out of my life, what I trusted may fall away completely, leaving me astonished and shaken. But still, sticky leaves emerge from bud scales that curl off the tree as the sun crosses the sky. Darkness pools and drains away, and the curve of the new moon points to the place the sun will rise again. There is wild comfort in the cycles and the intersecting circles, the rotations and revolutions, the growing and ebbing of this beautiful and strangely trustworthy world.
~ Kathleen Dean Moore
(Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature)

magic apples

“Vase with Apples and Foliage” by Henri Fantin-Latour

This little paradise was a happy place. Odin and the other gods often visited, marveling at Iduna’s kindness and delighting in her humor and her wit. Yet there was another reason that they came; Iduna possessed a special treasure — a golden chest of magic apples that kept all those who ate them ever young. Truly it was the precious fruit that kept the gods immortal. Odin knew the value of these apples. He never ventured on a journey without a few to take along.
~ Marianna Mayer
(Iduna & The Magic Apples)

windwood faeriegrounds

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
Windwood Faeriegrounds
created by Jennifer L. Johnson & Edward Johnson
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Everyone needs a playground … don’t they? Even the wee faeries of Old Lyme need a whirl or two on the Faerie Wheel to keep their spirits spry. Three good faerie friends decided to get together and create an amusement park for their pixie peers. Chinook, Squall and Leveche are wind faeries and have built fun contraptions to share their love of breezes. Pixiechutes, TumbleTwirls, and the Swing-n-Wings keep the pixie dust flying.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

Well, this post was supposed to be added on Sunday, but an early morning phone call changed the course of the day. Auntie fell at 3 o’clock in the morning and had to go to the hospital to get stitches in the back of her head. The doctors admitted her. She has stopped eating again and seems only strong enough to move her arms. Our spending the day at the hospital with her did not seem to be helping much and I came home with a terrific headache.

We had just visited her and my dad on Saturday. Auntie was a wisp of her former self, lying in a dark bedroom, complaining about the dark and the household noises, but refusing to allow her curtains to be drawn open. She grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go for the longest time. I read to her for about an hour and then left her bedside to visit Dad in the living room. We had a little apple tasting party – McCouns are still his favorites – and then showed him our latest photos on the TV screen. Block Island, the giant seagull, and the fairy village. He seemed to be enjoying the visit.

And now something seems to be the matter with my blog. Instead of a place for comments at the end there is a message saying, “This content cannot be displayed in a frame.” Huh? So I do apologize – I have no idea what is going on!!!

Anyhow, I love the Faerie Wheel above – it may be my favorite thing from the whole exhibit!

mementoes

“Idun & The Apples” by James Doyle Penrose

Still enjoying our apples, sometimes two a day. Maybe I’ll make some more apple crisp today. I found an apple poem and still another picture of Iduna. I love the little deer next to Iduna. I was looking for deer paintings when this one turned up in the search, reminding me that apple season is not yet over.

Saturday was Leif Erikson Day and Tuesday will be Columbus Day, but Monday will be the official holiday. Traditionally we used to go leaf peeping in Vermont or New Hampshire for the three-day weekend. But Tim has to work tomorrow so we’re not going anywhere and will have to content ourselves with a little leaf peeping next weekend here in Connecticut, when the color show will hopefully be peaking! Peeking and peeping at the peaking fall colors…

Looked up the definition of the title of the following Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, Recuerdo. It means memory, souvenir, or memento. Tim’s out getting coffee, breakfast, and the Sunday morning paper. My head is spinning with plans and ideas. Very tired after our trip to a museum yesterday, yet very merry. Domestic autumn bliss…

Recuerdo

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable —
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

This American stamp commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first organized emigration from Norway to the United States. Fifty-two Norwegians crowded onto the ship Restauration which sailed from Stavanger, Norway on July 5, 1825, and arrived in New York on October 9, 1825, where the captain was arrested and fined for having too many passengers on board for the size of his ship. What a welcome! My ancestor, Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, who became Martin Thompson, arrived in Philadelphia almost twelve years later, on June 10, 1837.

Although no one knows the exact day Leif Erikson (Leivur Eiriksson) set foot on North American soil, it was about 500 years before Christopher Columbus did. The Faroe Islands, part of Denmark, lie between the Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and between Norway and Iceland. They also issued a stamp recognizing Leif Erikson’s explorations.

keeper of apples

“Brita as Iduna” by Carl Larsson

According to Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth.” Iðunn is “a keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness.” (Idun, Iduna, Idunn, Ithun, Idunna)

A few words following about October and apples, which we are enjoying daily since we went apple-picking last weekend. Nothing like crunching into a juicy McIntosh fresh from the tree! An old saying keeps popping into my head: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Now’s the time when children’s noses
All become as red as roses
And the colour of their faces
Makes me think of orchard places
Where the juicy apples grow…

~ Katherine Mansfield
(Autumn Song)

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. The sunshine is peculiarly genial; and in sheltered places, as on the side of a bank, or of a barn or house, one becomes acquainted and friendly with the sunshine. It seems to be of a kindly and homely nature.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
(The American Note-books)

When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!

To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The outdoor air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript)

“Apples & Leaves” by Ilya Repin