Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Polish Meal

I'm half Polish. My mom's parents came from Poland about 1906. They met and got married in Chicago in 1912, and 100 years later, about four times a year I get the jones for Polish food, in particular cabbage, sausage, potatoes, mushrooms and home-baked white bread. When I make this meal it brings tears to my eyes. I didn't even know my grandparents; they bought a farm, had seven children, and died early.

Re-creating the Polish dinners of my kid-hood requires a trip to an international grocery that sells Polish sausages imported from Chicago. Only these--made in the home of America's largest Polish community--taste like they should. Don't give me Hillshire Farms; give me Bobka. Thank you. And keep your sauerkraut; I use fresh cabbage, boil it and add mustard sauce, put the mushrooms on the side, and that is my kapusta. When I picture a Polish table I imagine a snow-white tablecloth perfectly creased, because these people were far into linens and washing and ironing. My grandfolks was po' so there was no gorgeous Polish pottery to inherit. They left me nothing at all, at all, except this meal, which I love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

U.S. Post Office, Powell, MO

Just a nice little post office, an honest piece of America. No "developments" or "cul-de-sacs" here in Powell. No "metrosexuals" or poseurs or celebrity-mongers ever come here. No glamour at all. Perhaps the last truly honest face of any given town is its post office. Maybe that is why I love post offices. Other people love stamps. Other people love mail. What I remember of the post office of my childhood, far away from here, was being ledup some concrete steps into a temple-like building of gray granite, into a great hall all hung with smoke and painted glossy green, footsteps echoing, keys lightly jangling, counters too tall for me to see over. Down its hall were shut doors with panels of frosted glass, labeled "Private," with unmoving shadows behind them, and a flooded type of quiet, like the library, except that people were doing something even more private: getting and sending and stamping their mail, their boxes, their money orders. A great and quiet efficiency (any noisy activity confined to the docks out back) and reverence for the ideas of order and service. And say what you want about the country going to heck in a handbasket: that beautiful flag is part of my heart.

Property-Line Rapture

Today in the November sunshine, blinding because it's set at such a low angle and the trees are leafless, I set out to find the northern end of this 100-acre property, and my hike brought me here, where LaBarque Creek is still "mine" -- and in a few feet it crosses over and becomes the property of the Missouri Department of Conservation; that is, it becomes everybody's. But it's always been everybody's. The creek is low -- it's been very dry all summer and fall -- but that means more fossils for me to rifle through, and more deer and raccoon tracks at water's edge. And it is right here that I would like to be standing when I'm taken up bodily into Heaven (during the next Rapture).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


In fall, I can't help but become pensive. Summer was easy. October was beautiful except it lost us 72 minutes of daylight. Now, as my companion plants lose their leaves (these are sycamores, reflected into the LaBarque Creek) and freeze, the warm-blooded creatures withdraw into deeper woods, some into hibernation, some into the house, warmed by propane. And there I further withdraw into myself and think of the late autumns and winters past: holidays, snow, cold, long unbearably dark days, days with watery sun --now fifty years of them to look back on. The soul-food Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving of cheap sausage and beans. The Christmases with no one. The Christmases I made myself cream of cashew soup, sauteed monkfish, fine vegetables, and homemade orange spongecake jellyroll. The Christmases with very special people. The Christmas snowed in. The warmth of soup and baking. The glassy look of sky and water, like ink drawings of autumn.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

General Store, Powell, MO

"Twenty or thirty years ago" this general store in Powell, MO, closed. Along with it, at the center of town, is an abandoned Baptist church (no steeple) built of stone, and a DX station, its roadside sign now tangled in treetops. Another way to describe Powell is that the post office is open although no one works there, and there's a place that publishes gospel music and has since the composer of "I'll Fly Away," Mr. Albert E. Brumley, lived in Powell. He wrote the hymn in 1929, truly Divinely inspired, because it's been recorded by every gospel artist worth mentioning including Andy Griffith, Aretha Franklin, Crystal Gayle, Johnny Cash, and Kanye West. Brumley also wrote 600 other songs. Powell is in the far southwest corner of Missouri where there's not much but scenic Ozark beauty and farming. You'll have to drive 17 miles to buy a Snickers bar. I'll put up some more Powell pictures, but first, this fascinating and unique storefront sign made of horseshoes. That's Divine inspiration too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall's Finale

The last face of fall wildflowers here on the property: the marvelous Blue Aster. On every walk I see fewer and fewer. I love the way they linger. They are a great selvage end to the fabulous cloth woven by summer.

Wild Turkey on the Wing

I love wild turkeys. This year's Divine Property flock is 2 moms and 7 young ones who by Nov. 1 are nearly grown. Walking up Timberstone Trail I saw the flock crossing the road, gobbling and wobbling. Excited, I lifted my camera and then, hyper-aware as they are, they saw me and fled into the woods. The last one out of the woods, startled by my approach, shot up into the air and flew. Clicking the photo will give you the best view of it.