This Week In My Kitchen
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A Special Kind of Story

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When I was a kid my father never understood traveling south for summer vacation. "Why would somebody choose to go where it is hotter?" (You see where I get it from?) We didn't travel much, but my parents did try to take us away for some sort of a vacation once a year. Campgrounds were our hotels and we loved them. Often they had swimming pools, which is the very best part of a hotel in a kid's eyes anyway, and they had those great camp stores filled with all sorts stuff you never knew you needed. We'd often bring our bikes to cruise around and meet other kids to hang out with. They became instant friends. When you only have one week together, there is no getting to know you time... you must get right down to having fun and making memories. So, north we went - Maine, upstate New York, New Hampshire, Canada. Never Vermont though, probably too crunchy for my dad's taste.

I remember one summer vacation we never even left Connecticut. We went to a campground twenty minutes away and my dad still went to work every day. He was union and if he didn't work, he didn't get paid. Some years the family budget didn't allow for dad to take days off, but I guess my folks still wanted us to be able to swim in a pool, ride our bikes from campsite to campsite meeting new friends, and toss a few quarters into the pinball machine.

Those were pretty good times and I'm not really sure why I thought of them this morning. Perhaps it was the slant of light as sunrise made its way into our back field before coming through the trees behind our house. Changing light has a way of triggering memories. The sun is lower now, it lingers behind those trees along the stone wall for most of the day. Once the leaves fall, the house will be bathed in southern light for several hours each day.

We've been enjoying such crisp and wonderful weather lately, a perfect prelude to autumn. Then yesterday, out of nowhere, pea soup humidity and warmer temps. None of us wanted to be outside so we watched shows and movies about Alaska. One in particular was so amazing that I'd love to recommend it to you - Alone in the Wilderness. The story is of a man named Dick Proenneke, who came to Twin Lakes in the late 1960's at age 51 and built a cabin using only hand tools and materials mostly found in the wilderness. The cabin had no running water or electricity. Dick lived in his cabin for 30 years, keeping detailed journals along the way. Dick also took extensive film footage using his camera and tripod, leaving an incredible archive behind. While he filmed the majority of footage himself, his brother and other friends would help out when they visited. We couldn't help but feel this was truly a special kind of story. If you love Alaska, solitude, nature, cabin living, and the human experience, Alone in the Wilderness will definitely appeal to you.

To see a portion of this film, visit here.

Here is a great overview about Dick, his cabin, and his journals from the National Parks Service. Dick left his cabin in their care and it is preserved as a historic landmark.

Anyway, as disappointed as I was about the unexpected July-like weather yesterday, having the quiet time to knit and watch a story like this made it all worthwhile. As Dick says, "If the weather turns sour, make your job fit the day."

It turned out my job yesterday was not to preserve a batch of ketchup for our pantry, it was to knit my sweater and learn about a man that I can hardly believe I've gone 42 years without knowing of. What an amazing day it turned out to be.