Today may you find the love Dick Proenneke did, alone but not, 39 years ago today. A journal entry, written by Dick, excerpted from “The Handcrafted Life of Dick Proenneke.”
December 25, 1982:
Partly Cloudy, Calm & 21°
A real nice morning for that special day. A few nights ago I was reminded of Christmas. It was -6° calm and very frosty. By lantern light every busy and spruce sparkled – a million tiny candles winking on and off as I went to the woodshed … On the stump out front I had nailed a big strip of gut fat. I hollered for the birds and it was some minutes before they arrived … Boy oh boy! what a Christmas present. They would work like beavers – get tired and rest for a while and then back at it again. If I called them, they would quit and come to the door for hotcakes.
Everything in order I started to open parcels. Nine in all – excuse me – one in the cache makes it ten. Ten plus small gifts from Glen and Patty, Laddy & Glenda which turned out to be candy and cookies.
Before I got involved I remembered my little turkey bird in the cache. It would be frozen solid and I had better get it thawing …
What a batch of stuff – everything from soup to nuts. Two packages of Beef stick that is very good and will keep well into spring. Two gallons of chopped dried onions. I had ordered one and please write the price on the can so I could pay. Two came and as a gift. Any more I wanted I could pay for. Fruitcake, candy, nuts, a new Taylor thermometer which is a nice one – a tube case with a clip so one can pack it to the mt. top. Dish towels and some material to cover my aluminum foil of the fireplace cover. I find the foil is of benefit in keeping the cabin warm. Heat is reflected back into the living area from it. The excess that I cut off stands against the wall behind my stool next to the stove. Sit there and I can feel the heat reflected from the foil. Items too numerous to mention. Even genuine imported Millet Spray bird feed for caged birds and wild birds. Be interested to learn if I have any birds that will sample it.
Cinnamon drops and lemon drops, dish towels and pot holders and on and on. Nectarines a batch, semisweet chocolate, lentils and white beans and a note “Is there anything we can do for you?” And I suppose the next plane in will have more. I should hang out a sign “Twin Lakes general store.” With the flag flying my cabin has already been mistaken for a Post Office. I do appreciate everything and wish there was some way I could repay everyone for everything for I feel in debt. If only they had all gotten together and sent in a 25 lb. sack of rolled oats from “Nature Kitchen” I would have been “happy as a clam”. It would be evening before I pawed through the boxes again and find Christmas wrapped gifts that I missed first time around. I hate to disturb the contents because I often end up with more than the box will hold when I try to put it back.
Everything neatly stacked in a corner, I did more work on my ice creepers. An uncommon amount of creeper ice this winter. Straps wear and heel claws need replacing.
— Kara Gebhart Uhl
7 thoughts on “A Million Tiny Candles”
Merry Christmawanzukkice to all!
So beautiful and inspiring. Can’t wait to read the book!
I love this, Kara. What a perfect post for this day.
Perfect post Kara. Thanks.
Wonderful post, Kara, and a wonderful book, too. I read it cover to cover and have now loaned it to a woodworker friend who likes to make something out of nothing.
If I were to write diary entry for today:
Sunday 26. december 2021
Pale blue sky & bright sun on new snow, -6°C
Lazy morning, late breakfast.
Went down into the workshop and soaked 3 sawblades in white spirit before cleaning off the pine resin with a bronze-bristled brush. While waiting for the resin to soften I leant on the head of my bench in my usual place – ‘the office’ – just looking around my small shop, thinking of the year that has passed and the jobs done. Made a couple of sketches for the small ‘inventions’ / workshop-improvements I might make during the Christmas week while the radio played Christmassy jazz. Went over to the machine shop and put a clean plywood-blade on the saw, ready for Monday. Plank storage racks already tidied & sorted. The shop is in good order and well supplied. I am deeply grateful for all these things that enable me to make an independent living.
Afternoon; changed work-pants for comfy-clothes and made myself a cup of coffee with a tumbler or two of Aquavita on the side. Put on ‘G. F. Handel’s Greatest Hits’ and settled down with Mr. Schwarz’ Stick Chair Book that I picked up at the post office on Christmas Eve day – it arrived just in time. It is a beautifully made book. I browse through the Table of Contents… I read the chapter about the unfortunate chair rocker… I thumb the pages at random, looking at pictures… I close the volume and weigh it in my hands like a block of wood. I’m pretty confident this book will become an essential woodworking text. It’s contents will certainly occupy my mind in the coming years. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks!
We’re having a blizzard here in Minnesota today so I decided to take a stab at Dick Proenneke’s Bean Stew recipe from his 1967-1973 journals. I’m not sure if you included that recipe in THLODP but they are absolutely the best tasting, healthiest beans I have ever had the pleasure of eating. With the side benefit of having the oven on all day, which warmed the kitchen.
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