Franconia, Part Five

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  • **Continuing with part five of six devotionals about Elisabeth’s beloved Gale Cottage…

    There was a lovely pine grove behind the Cottage with a path that ran through it to what Aunt Annie had named ”The Meeting  of the Waters,” junction of two clear mountain streams, Gale River and Pond Brook. Wooden seats had been constructed encircling several of the larger pine trees, and when I was very small my grandfather took me to sit on one of them while he showed me how to build a house of twigs on the floor of the forest.  

    My aunt taught me the wild flowers that grew near the Cottage, and I pressed them in a brown dime-store notebook—cinquefoil, Quaker lady, and twin flower from the pine woods, wild orchid and lady’s slipper from the low, grassy place at the river’s level, devil’s paintbrush, butter-and-eggs, goldenrod, and Queen  Anne’s lace from the meadow in front of the Cottage. Years later I learned the bracken, ferns, and mosses, and showed other small children the wonders of the hairy cap moss—how you take off its hairy cap, lift the lid of the tiny “salt shaker,” and pour out its pale green powder into the palm of your hand.  

    There were our fields, our own woods, our swimming place down at the Meeting of the Waters. The very rocks belonged, we felt, to us. In the field were three large granite rocks, too heavy to move when the rest were cleared for planting long before. My brothers and I each claimed one of these as our own. We would go out and “ride” them, imagining ourselves mounted on an elephant, a camel, and a tortoise. There was “The Big Rock,” a gigantic boulder in the middle of Gale River with a deep pool beside it to swim in. Occasionally there was a trout and often we caught the bigger fish we always called suckers. The rock had a beautiful flat top where you could toast yourself after coming out of the frigid water, feeling the warmth of the sun on one side of you and the warmth of the rock on the other.  

    All of this, then, was ours—even the intoxicating smell of the cold brooks running over the clean stones between the sun warmed pine and spruce-covered banks. The land on the far side of Pond Brook belonged, in my mind, to God. It was wilderness.  There were no trails but animal trails there, and we felt that there were deer and maybe now and then a bear.  

    To be concluded next week…

    Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it. Let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in His faithfulness.

    Psalm 96:11-13

    **Excerpt originally published in All That Was Ever Ours pp 69-70.