Frozen Memories

Frozen Memories - Cover
Frozen Memories - Title Page
I have a room whereinto no one enters save I, myself alone. There sits a blessed memory on a throne; there my life centers.

CHRISTINA G. ROSETTI

Here in solitude and peace My soul was nurst, amid the loveliest scenes Of unpoluted nature.

ROBERT SOUTHEY

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

ISAIAH

Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the One breaks in everywhere,

EMERSON

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NOVEMBER
COMES TO THE NORTH
COUNTRY

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NOVEMBER COMES TO THE NORTH COUNTRY

The last of the fall leaves has gently floated to its place in the great multi-colored carpet that covers the forest halls. The trees stand tall, virile, defiant, like gladiators stripped for the fray. Towering pines, conspicuous in the denuded forests, stand out like sentries, joyous in their courage and strength. Deer, spirited by the mating call, are shy and elusive. A blue haze hangs over the countryside, as though the visible essence of wilderness. Not a man-made sound breaks the stillness. Only the sharp cry of birds of prey, the call of a belated loon, the distant howl of the wolf, and perhaps the startling shriek of a wildcat echo on the stoical shores. The Wilderness Gods, having loaned the forest to man for a season, have returned, and reign supreme! Nature, savage, untamed, unrelenting, unafraid, ‘red-of-tooth and claw” awaits the coming of winter in deep, deep silence.

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FROZEN MEMORIES

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FROZEN MEMORIES

The heart-warming gratefire wearies of its flames and subsides into a softly glowing bed of coals, in whose waving radiation are written priceless dreams and memories. Let no other light dim this glow, which casts grotesque, dancing shadows, but illumines the very chambers of the soul. There are pictures playing on that screen of embers, cherished pictures which the Power of Mammon could not buy!

Beneath that fallen log, whose ends still grip the andirons while its center falls to coals, lies a scene once thought forgotten. A canoe glides through long stretches of white water, its paddlers tired by long, hard travel. They swing precariously near to submerged dangers, scanning always the rock-bound shores with anxious eyes for a spot to camp. But it is a rugged country, and campsites are none too numerous. They move out on the open waters of mighty Lac Le Croix just as the sun dips its lower edge in the liquid horizon. Now they strain tired muscles to meet a stubborn head-wind,

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striving to reach the far shore before darkness doubles their difficulties. What these shores hold they know not, but trust they are more friendly than the ones left behind. Daylight pales; the waters blacken; the evening star braves the afterglow—still the measured swish of paddles and the search of anxious eyes. Now an island sails to meet them, bearing all their hearts’ desire! A campsite, a stone fireplace, ready-hewn tent poles, rock-dried moss and balsam for their bed—their kind has been here before! Now a fire, the bacon, and the coffee; no monarch ever dined as they. All the labor of the day is memory, life is too full for sleep. Aurora is dancing in the north sky, meteors streak the heavens, a wolf calls in the distance—they add fuel to the fire, they must watch! Wrapped in blankets they watch the embers, burning, burning, until they glow like these in which this picture lives. Then—where the night went they never knew, for in an instant it was dawn, and another day upon them.

In that coal near the backlog, fringed with white ashes like the first, sweet touch of age, lies the image of one perfect day. It is high

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noon, and a gentle, cool, north wind balances the heat of the sun. The sky is vivid in superlative blue, intensified by one lovely, lazy, white cloud; all living again in the limpid depths of the lake. How white the birches on this day! How joyous the gentle play of aspens! How deep the green of pine and hemlock! Martins coast and dart through unseen air paths, red-wings sing perched on swaying reeds, and from some hidden forest chamber comes the unmatched song of the hermit thrush. High the hawk circles, calm in ghastly purpose, while through ferns and logs darts the little life of the woods. Not a day for high adventure—just a day to live and love.

In that mass of embers, where tiny blue flames play, lies a memory near too sacred for words. Night! Afloat on placid waters, so still we seem suspended in the midst of the sparkling, heavenly hosts. Not a motion,—just to sit in spell-bound wonder at the sphere of miracles which we center! Comes a moment of supreme stillness! Even the canoe ceases its drifting, and all Nature stands in reverent expectancy. The eastern sky lights with transcendent glow, and over the serrated tree tops

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slowly rises the full moon, “fair mistress of the night.” Night birds call their greeting; a whippoorwill swings through the headlands to awaken all to witness this wonder, fish leap high for better view; and the great chorus of frogs chants its lay. We move on with silent paddles along the ghostly shore. (No sweeter companion ever lived, no deeper lover of God’s creation ever drew breath of life, than she who pulled bow paddle that night of nights! She whom the Ojibway call Wegimind—Mother. Dear one, in your new-found land could there be greater beauty? Had you exhausted earth’s supply, that you sought higher realms! True, no world or heaven could mature its beauty until you touched it with your love.) A buck stands in the shallows feeding, his antlered head held high. A statue carved from the moonlight! a lovely spirit of the forest, unafraid though the canoe drifts two paddle lengths away. We sit motionless, scarce breathing, until the frost-air chills our fingers, and a paddle slips with alarming crash on the hollow canoe. A snort! a flash! and the deer is gone!—laying a trail of diminishing sound into the darkness. On through the night we cruise

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the shores, gathering eternal treasures, till the gray shows in the east. How glorious that such sacred memories can never be taken from the soul! What blessing that Life’s greatest riches are beyond reach of time or decay!

* * *

The embers burn low, and the heart rests in dreams. Far, far north the white waters, the lakes, the woodland flowers and trees—all lie silent in the spell of winter. Frozen Memories! But tomorrow the magic rays of the sun will warm them to life, just as the glow of the gratefire has this night quickened them in thought. And who shall say that they were more real in that hour when first lived, than in these fireside meditations? They are now enriched by understanding, and endeared a thousand fold. If dreams stir hearts and thoughts—lead us into deeper love—are they not another phase of reality?

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SILENCE, SOLITUDE, TRANQUILLITY

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SILENCE, SOLITUDE, TRANQUILLITY

Have you ever stood on the crest of a hill, and looked out on vast reaches of snow-bound forest? The great white carpet of winter softens even the tread of the winds, and seems as visible stillness. The manly pines stand soundless, as a finger held to the lips of nature, and even the sighing of their leaves in the wind but deepens the solitude. The purity of the scene erases from thought all memory of the aimless maelstrom of cities, and for the moment you hear voices which utter no sound, but tell of the depth of Life. Here is the Kingdom of Silence!

Have you ever stridden through forest aisles to the rhythmic swing of snowshoes, and come to the ice-bound shores of a sleeping, virgin lake? The dainty balsams hold in their mendicant arms lovely bundles of snow, which sifts gently earthward with each stirring breeze. Not an animal stirs, and nowhere is the footprint of man. The wilderness continues its dreams, unmindful of the intruder. You are alone, but not lonely, you are a speck in an infinite sea yet

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a part of all you behold. This is the Realm of Solitude!

Have you ever sat before a glowing fireplace, gloriously tired by the journey to the lands of Silence and Solitude? The dancing flames bring warmth to the body, and peaceful thought to the soul. The cold of the night only deepens the quiet joys of the fireside. In the sweet contentment of the moment, not a wayward thought tempts the mind. The night air sings with a spiritual melody. And where, in a heart which has dipped up the treasures of Reality, can hatred, resentment, or malice find place? Love floods all consciousness, and the world glows in a new understanding. Here—here is the Kingdom of Tranquillity!

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CHRISTMAS SCENE

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CHRISTMAS SCENE

We once looked on a vast spruce swamp at Christmas and ever since all beauty has suffered in comparison!

The valley opened suddenly at our feet, as if a spontaneous creation, while we were snow-shoeing through pine-covered highlands in the north. Instantly we christened it “Surprise

Valley,” after the manner of its introduction, and later retained the name because of its resourcefulness in ever revealing new charm. A prehistoric lake had carved out this fairyland, and the ancient shoreline was still definitely outlined. Through unrecorded years the waters had seeped away to the sea, the great basin now being lined with soft sphagnum moss, out of which had sprung legions of lowland spruce, perfect of form and charming of character.

Stand with us as we again look into this cradle of wonders! Forget sensual-limitation and the restrictions of time and space while we contemplate Nature in its most reverent mood!

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“The universe is a thought of God,” wrote Schiller. How glorious must be that Infinite Mind which conceives the thought that is this valley! Fitting that we should view it on bended knee. What originality of setting! what startling composition! what daring contours and bold combinations! How futile for the hands of man to compete with Nature’s trimming! How dull and soulless his gaudy trinkets, how primitive his worship in comparison! Look—we here into the Holy of Holies of Nature?

Each conical tree, capped with new snow, is a pyramid of visible purity. Our eyes are met with the blinding sparkle of unnumbered jewels. Look! That seeming immobility was an illusion! The valley seethes with movement! Stupendous ceremony is under enactment. As far as the eye can reach, hosts of white-robed spruce, angelic choirs, march rhythmically without motion, sing divinely without sound. Strain not the eye and ear, this spectacle is “spiritually discerned!” We are guests of Nature in a Magnificent Cathedral of the Forest. The tread of the devout legions is softened
to absolute silence in the padded aisles now doubly cushioned

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for the occasion with the new, symbolic, white carpet.

What mute joy fills the air! Birds flutter from limb to limb like incarnate notes of the Sacred Theme; a deer paws the snow away to nibble at the underlying mosses; a squirrel feasts on a spruce cone and sprinkles the snow with the crumbs of his repast. No part is superfluous, no part is lacking. The scene epitomizes the law of synchronized events, the eternal and unbroken procession of predestined causes and inevitable effects!

The high spirit of the occasion reigns, and no monarch is more richly endowed than we. In the generous arms of the angelic hosts we Find Humility, wherewith we clothe ourselves to enter the design of the Infinite, and become a conscious part of the inspiring miracle we behold. We find Reverence in this demonstration of the very omnipresence of Life. We find Hope and Faith among our gifts, and feel the dawn of an instinctive understanding of Life’s deep secrets. We are inundated with Beauty and joy. We are given a lesson in giving,—for this giving is not bargaining, as is often true of

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the gifts of men. These come wrapped in Love, and labelled by the hand of Him who saith, “all that I have is thine!”

In the purity of the scene, consciousness awakens to the deep meaning of the day: Day-Memorial of the dawn of grace; Day-Symbol of the innovation of Truth and Love; Day-Prognostic of the liberation of mankind from the fetters of sin, sickness and death!

Nearly two thousand years have elapsed since the Prince of Peace came to the earth with his revelations. We are only beginning to understand some of His teachings. We are coming to see that not only on one day of the year should we commemorate his birth by practicing his principles, but on every day. This one day, Christmas, was when Jesus appeared to the consciousness of man. But Christ, the Revelator of the nature of God and Man, is from “everlasting to everlasting!” “Before Abraham was, I am.” Truth can have no beginning, no ending!

Jesus of Nazareth “Came not to destroy, but to fulfill!” He brought us no new earth or heaven, but revealed to us the glories of that

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which we already have. He saw the Hand of God in all Nature, and turned to the silent mountains and forests to refresh His spirit and pray. He preached the doctrine of Love and Kindness, and it is testified by those of his day that as he went through the forests, the wild creatures came to him for his soft caress, “and seemed loathe to go away.” Jesus struck at our erroneous thoughts about creation, and shook us from our self-imposed illusions. He brought into consciousness a new sense of values: “It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing!”

And today, in the solitude of this Wilderness Cathedral, we look on as all creation sings praise to His name! “Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise Him!” Not the homage of flattery, seeking to draw forth blessings but the honest declaration of Truth. In Him, and Him only, has man found the Way out of the sorrows and problems which burden the race. This is true!

But of the Ceremony: each moment reveals new glory. The legions of marching trees sway with a gentle breeze, soft snow lightly sifting to the ground, as frozen light from Holy

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Candles. Louder and louder grows the Anthem, —of spiritual tones far sweeter than any sound.

Then, of a sudden, comes a great hush! The marching legions halt. The sun is overshadowed by a cloud. We stand a-tremble! Is it the cold, or the sheer, spiritual magnitude of our conception? What of this hush—is it the end? Have we seen all we may?

Nay! it is but a pause to accentuate the supreme climax! The sun suddenly bursts from behind the cloud, its glory magnified a thousand fold. It floods the landscape with heavenly glow. The massive choirs are again in motion, now shaking the skies with the power of their song. They are retiring! The invisible walls of the forest echo the thunder of their anthem: “Glory! Glory! Glory! be to the Son of the Living God!” They troop over the hillside, they march through crevasses in the ancient shorelines, singing ever of the Glory of God, and the goodness of His Son. The sun dips below the horizon, and twilight obscures the last acts of the sacred rites. The vaulted dome

of the Cathedral lights with the first stars of evening. Darkness comes on, and all Nature bends head in long, silent prayer!

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Cheeks aglow, toes atingle, still under the spell of the vision, we move slowly from the scene, the swish of snowshoes over the hardened crust being the only sound in the forest. Back in the distant hills—still echoes the Song of the Pious Legions.

Thoughts of worldly origin gradually occupy our minds. We half doubt that we have really seen the Christmas spectacle of Surprise Valley. And yet—God now seems a little nearer, His creatures now a little dearer, and deep in our hearts we shall always know the Vision is true!

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JANUARY PROMISE

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JANUARY PROMISE

Long of evening, cold of day, month of flickering fireplaces and pensive meditations—wavering betwixt memories and plans. Lakes locked in rigid sleep, forest cloaked in white mantel, wild creatures facing their sternest days, yet, beneath the gripping cold is promised all the joy to come! Sap is poised for its springtime journey, while deep in the frozen ground the arbutus and the trillium are primping for their early debut. January—in thy frosty hands is held the seedling of the year.

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FEBRUARY

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FEBRUARY

Winter attenuates in February; it becomes translucent, yea, even transparent. Spring lies behind the thinnest of veils. Even the zero blasts come in new, warm lustre. Venturesome birds, prophetic scouts of migratory hordes, slip silently into the scene. A new brilliance adorns the sun’s rays, and, whatever the temperature, the snows melt at its touch. The fireside still holds the body, but the thoughts reach afar. Now plans may become preparations. The last whisp of winter is February, natal month of the great; frosty of breath, yet warm of promise. Thenceforth, though storm and chill linger on, all is a part of spring!

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THE MOODS OF MARCH

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THE MOODS OF MARCH

March is a dispositional heterogeneity. It is like unto a cherished old Grandsire, a “Grumpy,” beloved for all his idiosyncracies. It caresses one day, and chastises the next. It coaxes the tulip through the thawing earth with the smile of spring, and then chills it with left-over winter winds. It entices the sap to the end of the twig, then grips it with snow and sleet. It opens a day with the blue skies of June, and in a twinkling coats them with charging clouds of gray. Its breezes are fitful and deceptive, sometimes playing about the barren branches and the leafy pines with the lazy drone of summer; sometimes raging destructively through the forest in cyclonic revelry.

But we will not be deceived! We know beneath its pretense of erraticalness, March is a dear old Soul, a Friend to all the year. We know in the legacy of his melting snows and torrential rains is life and growth. Let him rant and rave, we will see his beauty and laugh

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At his feigning. We will look through his driving rains, snows and sleets, to the glorious light of spring which breaks through everywhere.

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EXHAUSTING THE NORTH

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EXHAUSTING THE NORTH

It is often difficult for a thoroughly urbanized person to understand how a nature lover can return to the same lakes and woods year after year without being surfeited or bored. The quest for variety has become a mania for those living in environs where the only interest is the artificial stimulus created by restlessness. That the same trees, the same waters, the same moon should continually stir new ecstasy is inconceivable to such. Yet, those who have turned to the Sanctuary of Nature for some decades, find at the culmination of these years that every element of the great woods has been enhanced constantly in beauty and importance.

If it is variety that the human mind craves, Nature is in this a specialist! So precious is newness and individuality in the scheme of Creation that not an object or a moment is ever duplicated. In all the flakes of snow no two have been found alike, there are no duplicates among the leaves of the trees, or the numberless

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blades of grass. An exact reproduction of any unit is unknown to Feature.

As with things, so with time. No moment is ever repeated. The earth never twice occupies the same point in infinite space, stars do not stand through even a fraction of a second in the same relationship to each other. All objects in the universe alter with each instant, never to return to any one station of their unending evolution. There is no stagnation in Nature!

The Prophet could find “nothing new under the sun,” nor can we! The unending appeal of the wildwood springs from its interesting development and man’s ever-broadening view.

Though the song of the wood thrush has rung forth clear as a bell countless times, it comes again with renewed sweetness, reaching thought with deeper meaning than ever before. The moon, parading through its phases during eons of time, has but gathered glory in the march, and looks on each night with fresh-born beauty. Far-flung forest, majestic mountains, rolling hills, singing streams, all the creatures that inhabit them are adorned by the touch of time, ever the same, yet ever different.

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Nature enters our experience differently with the passing years. On each upward step of progress, we find waiting for us an entirely new side of the forests. To the impressionable boyish mind, which seeks outlets for its energies, and objects for its fancies, the woods come decked in mystery. They flaunt a tantalizing challenge to dawning virility and instinct, calling from the budding man the latent powers which stimulate his growth. When this mind has matured, and there are flickerings of wisdom where there were only enthusiasms before, the trees keep pace with development. The spreading oak which served boyish fancy as a playground, answers adult thought when it begins to question more deeply. The forests become testimonials of the omnipresence of Life, and the symbol of freedom. The lakes are mirrors of heavenly beauty, and the world is wrapped in a garment heretofore unobserved—Spirit. The vast north reveals infinite resourcefulness, staying ever abreast of man.

This always will be the experience of the Northwoods lover, though he continue his visits without end! Not until he tires of the life-giving sunshine will he tire of the north.

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Not until the soul wearies of beauty, the heart tires of love, and the mind rebels at peace, will the charm of the forest seem at an end. Time only waters its enchantment, indulgence but multiplies its appeal.

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A PRAYER

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A PRAYER

Grant me love, O Love Itself! I would not triumph over fellow men and bend them to my will by cleverness, cunning, or power. I would not stride through life the conqueror—I ask not this crushing strength. Let me love my fellow men and feel their love for me. Let me love each flower and tree, and the shy creatures which wander the forest halls. Let me love each hill

and vale, each stream and lake and the far flung sea. Let me love the sun and moon, the stars which measure the infinite, and the clouds which float across their view. Grant me love, O Love Itself, that I may have more of Thee!

Grant me friendship, O Friend of All! Let me live well with my kind. Teach me not to ask for too much, Thou who givest all, let me grant freedom to my friend. Let me serve him when he stands in need, but never to put him in bonds, not even with the golden threads of love. Give me the friend, O Friend of all, who abideth my silent moments, and asks the same of me. Give me the friend who without sacrifice

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walks paths akin to mine, who though he heads straight for his own goal, strides side by side with me. Teach me to burden him not, O God, to see in him always an object of love, but to seek my strength in Thee!

Grant me wisdom, Thou who knowest all, wisdom to guide my ways. I do not yearn for the sparkle of wealth, nor fame, nor just to be wise after men—but I long to know how best I may serve, and use the talents Thou hast entrusted to me. Teach me to know when my neighbor needeth that which I have to give. Teach me the kind but strengthening words to say to the sorrowful soul, and the cheerful greeting and honest smile which send the stranger along his way with rising hope and faith. Grant me wisdom, Thou who knowest all, to understand Thy creatures, and to make their lives less burdensome. Teach me the secrets of the trees, the flowers, and tiny moss. Grant me the wisdom, O God, to know that Thou alone are wise, and that all intelligence which I may have is but Thee expressed in me!

O Thou, who abideth the unhurried march of the stars; O Thou, who watcheth calmly the growth of the seed; O Thou, who in peace

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await the awakening of man, teach me, O God, Thy patience! Teach me to clutch not at the fleeing hour, nor storm at the flow of time. Teach me to faint not at the long drawn task, nor chafe at Thy guiding reins. O God, I would trail through endless Life, as the sun wends its way through the sky; neither soon, neither late, but knowing well it is Thy way, not mine, that I see. I would not burden the morrow with concerns, nor yet be tethered by regret to yesterday; but labor with Thy strength at a task which is Thine, here in the eternal now! Thy patience, O God, teach to me!

And now, O God of all, pray read my heart, for I doubt that I can express that which I feel. Thou art One! Thou art All! Thou seekest for naught, for everything is Thine and in Thee! No other gods doest Thou seek, for none doest Thou need; Thou standest alone, complete, sufficient, supreme! O God, Thou knowest I love my friend, my neighbor, the stranger and the world—never would I part with these. No gift of strength do I ask which would endanger this sacred intimacy. But, Father of all, I am Thy Son! I want to be like Thee! Teach me, Oh teach me, to stand alone!—Alone, Dear God, like Thee!

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