The Farmer’s Daughter!

An old story begins when a poor farmer’s mare gives birth in the village marketplace… 

The frightened newborn took shelter under a rich man’s wagon, and the rich man claimed the foal as his own.   The young burgermeister was inexperienced, and did not want to displease the rich man.  To settle the dispute, he told the two men to return the next day with answers to three riddles; the one with the best answers would be awarded the foal.  Surely the rich man could outfox an old peasant, and the matter would be done.

“What is the richest thing in the world?” asked the burgermeister.  “What is the swiftest thing in the world?  And what is the sweetest thing in the world?”

The farmer was distressed.  He didn’t know the answers, and he couldn’t afford to lose the foal.  But his daughter was very clever.

“Don’t worry, Papa.  Here’s what you must say…”

The next day, the rich man puffed out his chest and said, “The swiftest thing in the world is my coach and pair, for no other horse or wagon ever passes me on the road.”

The richest thing is the gold in my treasure chest, for am I not the richest man in the village?  And the sweetest thing is cakes made with honey from my own hives.”

“Mmm,” said the burgermeister, turning to the farmer.  “And have you answers to my riddles, old man?”

“Yes,” said the farmer.  “The richest thing in the world is the earth, for do not all riches come from the earth?”

 

“The swiftest thing in the world is thought.

For a thought can travel to the ends of the earth and back again…


…in the blink of an eye.”

 

“And the sweetest thing in the world is sleep.  For when one is sad or tired, what can be sweeter?”

The mayor had no choice but to award the foal to the farmer.  “But you didn’t think of those answers yourself.  Tell me who helped you.”

The farmer confessed that his daughter had solved the riddles for him.  The burgermeister was impressed and intrigued.  He asked to meet the farmer’s daughter.

 But that is a story for another day…

All words and images copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Sweet.

Mad Cow Disease

Earlier this month I visited the Hampshire College campus in Massachusetts.  I was there to spend a few days with my daughter Bea…

…who was studying at the amazing Yiddish Book Center at the college.


Hampshire has a lovely campus in the middle of rural farm country.  And it was 97 degrees.

I’m from The Emerald City and I know green when I see it.  Believe me, that countryside was green.

It was midday, and the campus was deserted, except for mad dogs and Englishmen.  Oh, yeah, and Bea and me.  We were walking to the dorm to sit in front of the AC and have lunch (did I mention it was 97 degrees?).  Then out of nowhere came a couple of dairy cows, fresh off the farm, looking like two giant Oreo cookies on the hoof.  Completely out of context, they looked larger than life.

One doesn’t often see cows going faster than a mosey, but these two came galloping toward us–no, frolicking is the only word for it.  They came frolicking across the manicured lawn.

They seemed giddy with the sense of freedom.   No cattle lows here.  In fact, I could almost hear one calling to her girlfriend, “Woo hoo!  C’mon,c’mon,c’mon, come ON!!

Oh, they were fresh, and they were frisky!  Across the campus they bounced, udders swaying, heads bobbing.  Like young girls taking the bus downtown for the first time.  Or mothers in a frenzy of activity when Baby goes down for a nap.  Grownup sisters on their first overnight after the kids are weaned.  Old ladies and their girl herd down at the senior center on Bingo Night.

A student heading out to the parking lot saw them.  Before ducking into the safety of her car, she shouted, “Get inside!  Mad cows on the loose!”  But Bea and I weren’t afraid.  If this was Mad Cow Disease, we wanted to catch it.  I swear, those cows were laughing and shoulder bumping!

They were on their first jump over the moon.  New sights, new smells, new tastes.  Maybe the grass really was greener on the other side of the fence.  How would they ever know if they didn’t give it a try?

You’re going to stick your head into a garbage can?  Then I’m going to stick my head into a garbage can too!”  Thelma and Louise on the hoof!

Out from under Farmer Brown’s thumb!  You go, girls!

I knew then and there, I would never wait for someone to open the gate of the corral.  If it’s locked, I’ll jimmy it.

Whether your middle name is Hamburger Helper or you’re just tethered to a milking machine, life is short.  You can put in your time on the farm, but if you wait patiently for someone to put you out to pasture, chances are it ain’t gonna happen.

It’s up to you to kick up your heels while you still can.

You hear what I’m saying?   Get Moooving!

All words and images copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Pairs.

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Farm Animals.

Click here for more interpretations of Nancy Merrill’s A Photo-a-Week Challenge: Green.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh.

A Peace of My Mind

I posted this eight months ago, but wanted to share this with my new readers.  It is a perfect response to The Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour.

Writing Between the Lines

Last September my son Eli and I went on a great road trip with my daughter Bea, to deliver her, an incoming freshman, to Stanford University.

Then all of a sudden Bea was at school…

…and Eli and I were back in the van on the long drive home to Seattle.

For our trip down, we’d booked nice hotels in advance.  It was all about our last hurrah before saying goodbye to Bea.  Maybe because we didn’t want to think about coming back without her, we forgot to plan the trip home.  We were unprepared, disorganized, and we both kept looking around for Bea.

It was after midnight when we pulled into Redding, CA.

We found a place that simple, but clean, and woke refreshed and ready to move on–from Redding, and from Stanford.  We were going to write ourselves a new story.

We explored a delightfully shabby gold rush town…

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Remember The Alamo?

“You can all go to Hell: I’m going to Texas.”

–Davy Crockett—

Summer in Texas is hotter than hell.  I’m a sweater-weather gal from the Pacific Northwest; I just wilt in the heat.  I nearly died of heatstroke while visiting The Alamo while attending a storytelling conference there twenty-five years ago.  And don’t forget what happened to Davy Crockett.

But in a previous post I’ve told you a little something about my very cool cousins June and Haskell

…and the occasion was June’s 90th birthday, which I wouldn’t have missed for a hundred faux fur coonskin caps.  The party was in San Antonio.   I was going to share a room with my Seattle Cousin Nancy, which meant not only a birthday party, but a PJ party every night!

An added incentive was the chance to meet June’s daughters and granddaughters for the first time.  We had a lot of family stories and family history to catch up on.  June’s husband Haskell is a seventh generation Texan, and he spins a good yarn, whether waxing nostalgic about his childhood in East Texas, his service in World War II, or sharing stories of our own Aptekar family, which he knows more about than any of us born into it.  I didn’t want to miss out on that either.

We stayed in the famously haunted historic Gunter Hotel, on which site a hotel has stood since 1837, the year after The Battle of The Alamo.  (Remember The Alamo?)  Mostly the halls were haunted with Aptekar cousins, nieces, sisters and daughters zipping in and out of June and Haskell’s room for Happy Hour.  Best of all, the hotel was spitting distance from the San Antonio Riverwalk.

It’s a bend in the river that runs through the city, where flood controls were incorporated into the design.  Both sides are lined with sidewalks, shops, and restaurants.

In 1929, the Riverwalk was a bold and innovative urban design.

 They built it in a sketchy neighborhood that even military personnel were warned to avoid.  But the Riverwalk was a huge success.  It revived downtown San Antonio, attracting both locals…

…and tourists…


I’ll try not to whine too much about the heat, but understand that in Seattle, at eighty-five degrees, the city issues “Severe Weather Alerts.”   We strolled along the river that first night, after it had cooled down into the eighties.

Our walk was memorable.

The light…

…and shadows…

were compelling.

And we couldn’t have asked for better company.

The next day we all trooped over to the Historic Mexican Market, with my ninety-year old cousins leading the way there…

…and back…

…in a blistering 110 degrees.


I want to be like them when I grow up.

We had lunch at a restaurant…

…with enough local color…

…and twinkle lights to satisfy even my tastes.

Back at the hotel June opened birthday presents…

…and then we went back out to soak up even more of the local color.

Of course, a Mariachi band serenaded The Birthday Girl.

We packed a lot into four days!  Museums…

…and sculpture gardens.

Talking….

Shopping…

 

Storytelling…

Wildlife…

More wildlife…

And really wild life!

AND REMEMBER THE ALAMO!?!?!

Oh, yes, we went there too.

To escape the heat, in an air conditioned IMAX theater we watched The Price of Freedom, about The Battle of The Alamo.


It was a very good recreation.  Don Swayze, Patrick’s brother, has a role in it; those boys definitely came from the same gene pool. The fellow who played Colonel Travis looked strangely familiar–on the poster below he’s in middle of the lineup wearing the white hat.

It was driving me crazy.  I knew his voice, but his name–Casey Biggs–didn’t ring a bell, so I looked it up.  No wonder I couldn’t place him!  He played the Cardassian ‘Damar’ on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!  I learned that Biggs was called in to Paramount Studios to read for the part because the director had seen The Price of Freedom, and liked him.

Not only did The Alamo movie land Casey Biggs the biggest role of his acting career, the Texans’ defeat at the Alamo inspired an unprecedented rush of recruitment into the Texian army.  Right or wrong, eventually Texas was taken from Mexico and became a part of the United States.

And it was also a darn good setting for an Aptekar family birthday party.

I will never forget it.

c2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia.

Click here for more interpretations of Jake’s Sunday Post: Urban Design.

The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be

When visiting the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio with my cousins June and Nancy, a huge sculpture immediately captured my attention.

It dominated the back wall of the entry hall, a 3D rainbow of recycled paper, cardboard, and plastic.


The sculptor, Lisa Hoke, titled the piece “The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be” in a nod to baseball player Yogi Berra, who was famous for employing the English language in surprising and humorous ways.  I don’t know exactly what Lisa intended when she chose that title for this piece, but it seems appropriate.

This work of art features colorful patterns created by discarded packaging of consumer goods, mostly paper and plastic.

Trash, really.


But Lisa has mindfully and creatively transformed refuse into something beautiful– and useful, too—for art satisfies the senses and stimulates thoughts and feelings.

Here’s what this piece brought to my mind: We are trashing our planet.  Landfills are overflowing and oceans have become dumping grounds.  Imagine if we could do what Lisa has done, only in our real lives and on a larger scale–by making less garbage, of course, but finding ways to make the most of it.

Our deck is made of recycled plastic.  Paper products like toweling, books, and stationary are made of recycled paper.  Instead of adding countless plastic grocery bags to the landfill, cloth shopping bags can be used again and again.

There’s no doubt that Yogi was right—the future ain’t what it used to be.  But wouldn’t it be a fine thing to recycle the old future into a better one for ourselves and our children?

All photos and words c 2013Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Sculpture.