My vehicle jig-jagged north through the misty morning fog toward the Mackinaw Bridge on a well-known route (well-known because this was the same route one would take to our Family’s get-away on the rocky shoreline of Drummond Island). I was en route to meet with an individual whose farm is within a stone’s throw of the international bridge in Saute Sainte Marie, Michigan. He’s a university professor and ornithologist who raises an ancient breed of cattle: the Scottish Highland breed. This rare foggy morning in November, reminiscent of the opening scenes from Brigadoon, set the stage for an encounter with with these stately, primordial beasts. The fog enshrouded the Mackinaw Bridge, with the bridge’s towers–obscured by the mists–seeming to descend from some infinite point on high. The fog broke as I crossed into the overlands of Michigan’s northern peninsula, which far enough west, you’ll find the highlands of Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains. Rolling up to the farmhouse, I was greeted by Tom, who invited me in for a hot cup of coffee around the kitchen table where we soon began ruminating about the fascinating herd that was grazing just outside. Read more

Scene One

The setting for Thanksgiving 2001: The Downing House in Englewood, CO, overlooking the Cherry Hills Golf Course where, at the 1960 U.S. Open, Arnold Palmer pulled off “probably the most famous come-from-behind win in golf history,” (www.about.com). This was once the home of Jerry and Martha Dell Lewis who, as I recall, moved here from the Lone Star State with their family in the 1980s, having made their money in Texas oil as well as other successful ventures. The parties they once threw here were fabled, bringing to mind the antics of the Count of Monte Cristo. These were lavish affairs with exotic animals (giraffes and monkeys, for instance)–the kind of stuff that makes bold headlines in newspaper’s social pages. And then, they gave it all up. They created a charitable organization and bequeathed their home to it. Read more

In the Spring of 2000, having just moved to Denver from the small mountain hamlet of Cascade, CO, and thinking that I would be in Colorado another three to six months before moving back to Grand Rapids (I had been away from home for over four years now), I took my first job serving tables. The California Cafe was a fine dining restaurant that, besides wanting its applicants to have had two years of fine dining experience, desired for its servers to have an extensive knowledge of wine (they had a truly impressive cellar of California wines). Now, not only had I never served before but the extent of my wine knowledge included (1) that wine is made from grapes, and (2) that there were two types: white and red. And so the first thing I did after talking the general manager into giving me a job (which, two weeks later, she would end up regretting) was to head straight to Barnes & Nobel for my first primer on the subject: Wine for Dummies. Read more

As the weather begins to cool, so too the tug to stay indoors. As I was reminded of last Sunday, hiking the outdoors, it’s well worth fighting that urge. It is hoped that the following thoughts will stir the heart and assist it in overcoming the inertia that begins to set in this time of year:

“How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”

John Burroughs

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“Night on Bald Mountain,” Disney’s Fantasia

Last week’s post opined that what we eat and–by implication–listen to, watch, and read can have an effect on the both the material and non-material aspects of us as human beings, giving us more (or less) substance: making us ontologically weightier or ontologically lighter. As a way of edifying our humanity, then, shared here are two works (comprised of something to listen to, watch, and then read) both of which are highly substantive, enriching, and edifying. They are in keeping with this Blog’s theme of seasonality and, therefore, concern themselves with the observance of Hallowe’en (All Hallows Evening). Read more