MY LONG AND WONDERFUL LIFE WITH THE WIZARD OF OZ

 

There  was never a moment in my life I wasn’t aware of  the story of Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz.     In that quiet time  when the evening becomes a silvery twilight, and I was very very young,  my Mother would read to me.   It was the children’s hour.  This slender  book.  This fairy tale of witches and wizard.  This story of a brave girl and her trio of unlikely saviours became an integral part of both my childhood  and my adult years.

My own copy of the book,  The Wizard of Oz,  was long lost.   For many  years I  searched for it.    I few weeks ago I discovered a copy of the book  waiting patiently for me on a Thrift Shop shelf.  Not just any book but but one published in l931. The book cover was a little worn.  The edges of the  pages  a little foxed.  But the coloured illustrations are as bright and vivid as I remembered them.

The movie The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939.  Up until that time our Saturday afternoons movies (generally Westerns)   were in  black and white.   To sit and watch the Oz movie turn from black and white to magical, brilliant colour was an experience I will never forget.   I really was in the land of Oz.  And all those years later Oz is still very much a part of me.

Nine years old and I would settle for nothing but red shoes.    I was obsessed with the ruby slippers Dorothy wore  in the movie.   In the 1940’s children’s shoes were special occasion black patent Mary- Jane’s  or  brown leather lace ups for school.  There was very little choice in  small town in Northern Saskatchewan.  I found red leather shoes in our only department store – Eaton’s.   Unfortunately a size to large.  I was  desperate for them.  My obliging Father had a shoemaker sew  a strap on  so I wouldn’t walk out of my  beautiful red shoes.

I still love red shoes ;  loafers,  sandals, pumps,high heels, court heels,  shoes with red beads, with gold buckles,  with velvet bows.   All a version of those famous ruby slippers

Then there was the Siamese cat.   In the last scene of the Wizard movie Dorothy holds a Siamese cat.  I wanted a cat with blue eyes .   That exotic breed did not exist in our northern town.   Twenty years later my first Siamese purred his way into my heart.  In the years that followed there was always one or two of these elegant creatures ruling my home.

Dorothy’s  journey to  the Great Oz takes her through a dangerous but glorious  field of fiery red poppies.   The image remained with me through the years until finally I was able to  grew my own field of poppies in our home in the country.

Finding one’s heart desire is not the easiest of tasks.   Finding a Wizard who can grant it is even harder.  L. Frank Baum wrote fairy tales that were also very much parables.  In these modern times it appears we need them more than ever.

“Home – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all.  And  – oh Auntie Emm,  There’s no place like home.”

Indeed.  There is no place like home.

 

 

 

 

 

ALWAYS WELCOME STRANGERS FOR THEY MAY BE ANGELS

A very, very long time ago, in a place far, far away I bought a cabin.  It was built of huge logs harvested on the property.   The road a faint path grown over with years of neglect.  It stood alone quietly  facing  a small lake in Northern Saskatchewan.     The windows obscured with the dust of many years.  Velvety moss covered the stone doorstep.    Over the  door a sign ALWAYS WELCOME STRANGERS THEY MAY BE ANGELS.  I bought my cabin never stepping inside.

Later when I picked up the key I learned the history of my cabin.  It had been built in the early Twenties.  When  World War Two was declared in September l939 the son  of the owners enlisted.  He never came home.  His parents never returned to their cabin.   Twenty-Two years later I walked into a time capsule.    It was as if they had simple closed the door and gone for a stroll.   I kept the iron beds.  The “crazy ” patchwork quilts.    The  kettle for heating water.    The Union Jack to hang on the flag pole.  The tiny child’s wooden boat.   I kept the sign over the door.

Thus began my fascination with angels.    I was fascinated with the concept of entertaining angels unaware.    Their wings.  What do angels do with their wings?  Tuck them under their coats?  Hang them at the door?   The Christmas issues of my French magazines always featured angel wings in their decor.  Hanging over mirrors.  On the backs of chairs.    Now I was obsessed with finding  angel wings.  Not flimsy cartoon versions of wings, but big, white wings with feathers.

It was in July of the past summer when I walked into our Ladner Thrift Shop and discovered my angel wings.  They were hanging with children’s costumes.     Teary eyed I stroked the feathers.  They were perfect .  They were my long sought after angel wings.

They hang surrounded  by all things French .    The setting is perfect.  My angel wings catch the early morning sun and in the evening tiny fairy lights light up the night.   I remember the sign from long ago.   I live in hope remembering the cabin sign.   Welcome strangers for some have entertained angels unawares.

 

 

CANADIAN BAKED BEANS . . . remembrances of things past.

 

January was always  the cruelest month when one grew up in Northern Saskatchewan. The excitement of Christmas still a warm memory, but  January was a biting,  bitter, angry cold that left you weeping.  Freezing eye lashes together.  Turning feet into numbing blocks of ice.    A January  cold that groaned and complained.  A cold that split the ice on our outdoor rink  into  large cracks   catching the blades of our skates and sending us tumbling into snowbanks.  We loved it.

Night come early in the Far North.   Darkness by four o’clock.  Snow crunched with   every step.  The evening sky dazzled with a light show  of a million  stars.   Scarf wrapped, double layers of hand knit mittens and socks,  we waited.  The  Northern Lights  lite up the sky with breath taking brilliant colours. They flashed, soared, danced filling our world with a  show we never took for granted.    Mittens were discarded.  Hands clapped.  We were absolutely certain we had the ability to make  The  Northern Lights dance to our applause.   Then chilled to the bone hunger drove us home for supper.

Remembrances of things past.    The crackle and smell of a wood burning wood stove.  The small, warm kitchen filled with  the comforting aroma of baked beans.  Crusty bread lavished with butter.   A childhood recollection of home.    Marcel Proust wrote of the joys of madelines.  For me it will always be  baked beans.     Fragrant beans simmering all day  until the pork dissolved into a rich sauce and beans become  tender bursts of flavour.  This is the baked beans of my childhood.   The remembrances of things past.  This is not an exotic recipe.  The ingredients are those of more than seventy years ago.  Most important is –  what is not in this  Northern Saskatchewan recipe.    No molasses.   Ginger gives the beans a  counter balance to the sweetness of the sugar.

Quoting Proust  wrote “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;  they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom.”   May you be happy with this simple recipe.  May your January skies be filled with Northern Lights, and may you enjoy  the simple pleasure of skating on an outdoor rink in the mysterious darkness of the night.

MRSBUTTERFINGERS  has the recipe.  Bon Appetit dear friends.