One very pleasant week

July 4 itself was a surprise, weatherwise, as the evening fireworks display received some showers Therefore, the show on Portland’s Eastern Promenade began sooner, and at Fort Williams at Cape Elizabeth, the Portland Symphony shortened the program because of the high ocean winds and the cold, which bothered the players and some of their instruments, as well as several in the audience, who left even before the concert ended. Some lingered in order to watch the fireworks.

Our family decided not to drive to the Boulevard to park, as we usually do to watch the fireworks, as the rain had already started in our neighborhood.

But we were fortunate. From our back porch, through the neighbors’ tall trees, we were able to see many of the beautiful colors as the fireworks exploded, far away on the Eastern Prom. That was a surprise and a pleasure.

The next day, July 5, my birthday, we had a wonderful outing, a picnic in our country cabin in Hiram, overlooking the White Mountains. Included in our menu were stuffed eggs, a treat my mother always included for lunch when she and my father visited us on Sundays at the former Deering High School Ski Club cabin that we rented from Kilton and Betty Andrew, who had bought the ski club property. That field below our cabin was filled in July with blueberries, and the Foote family picked and enjoyed many quarts of them. Happy memories!

When I go to our cabin, I always take a wildflower walk, beginning on a nearby dirt road. From there I walk into our woods and find many flowers. Then I continue up the field and back to the cabin.

On this July 5, quite a few of the flowers I saw had blossomed earlier, but the leaves are interesting, too. I saw leaves of Clintonia, star flowers, and Solomon’s seal. Still in blossom were orange hawkweed and its red and orange plant, also called devil’s paintbrush, blue vetch (a favorite of mine, both the flower and tendrils, too), common mallow, Indian cucumber root and many others.

I did notice the lady’s slipper leaves, but not the flowers. I think there were more of them, deep in the woods, across the road, but I did not walk there. The lady’s slipper flowers are lovely, and come in pink, yellow and white. Those I do see are pink. I came across this poem by James Russell Wiggins, in the Ellsworth American, with a long picture. I don’t mind that they are called by that name, and we don’t usually call them by their Latin name, Cypripedium. In fact I think they are well named. Here is the Wiggins poem:

The lady’s slippers bloom in June;

I think it is a shame

To give that tiny flower

Such a common sort of name.

It is a Cypripedium,

To use a Latin phrase,

Its slang name will be “slipper”

Until it ends its days.

A fairy queen might wear it,

But I don’t see how she’d do it;

I wish the florists would attach

A better title to it.

Ah, happy day! Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, “La Traviata,” my favorite, was broadcast July 6 by the Los Angeles Opera Co. on Channel 6, Portland, on the afternoon program. To add to my pleasure, the soprano part, that of the heroine, Violetta, was sung by Renee Fleming. She has a glorious voice. The Sept. 29, 2006, Boston Herald said:

“Renee Fleming is truly at the peak of her career. The American soprano is adored by opera audiences around the world and even hailed as possessing the most beautiful voice in the world – and for once it’s not just hype.

“Perfect for our media-soaked times, Fleming is both a savvy businesswoman and a stunningly beautiful woman made for the elaborate designer gowns she favors for her concert tours.”

Isn’t that a big compliment, written by music critic T. J. Medrek.

My “Encyclopedia of Music” (Anness Publishing, 2002) says that Verdi was the greatest Italian opera composer of the 19th century. He was born in Lombardy, in a small village. He began to play the keyboard when he was 3 (imagine!) and at age 10 he was sent to study in Busseto.

In 1831 he became the protaga of a music-loving merchant, Antonio Barezzi, who financed his further musical education privately in Milan, Verdi having been rejected by the Milan Conservatory. Verdi then returned to Busseto as the town’s music director. In 1836, aged 22, he married Barezzi’s daughter. His first opera was accepted in La Scala and it premiered in 1839. From then on he wrote many famous operas and they appeared in Paris, St. Petersburg, Cairo, Milan, Rome, Naples, Vienna, Trieste and even London.

The encyclopedia called “La Traviata” one of the most popular operas ever written , and I surely agree. The arias are beautiful and unforgettable.

Verdi was born in 1813 and died in 1901 in Milan. He left his fortune to a home for aged musicians, which he had built in Milan, and which he regarded as “his greatest work.

What a great man he was!

Class of ’36 reunion

The Deering High School class of 1936 will hold a reunion Saturday, July 28, at Verrillo’s Restaurant, 155 Riverside St., Portland. The social hour will be at noon, and the luncheon, at 1 p.m., with ordering from the menu. We welcome students who were at Deering during our years. Please call our committee member, Hal Griffith, at 774-2338 if you can attend.

Total recall

Today’s recipe is from “Kitchen Kapers,” published in 1971 by the Bicentennial Committee of Milan, N.H. My parents and I attended the Bicentennial meeting. I have recalled Apple Tapioca we used to enjoy when I was young, and I was pleased to see this recipe.


1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca

2 cups boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 medium apples or peaches

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon margarine

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Add tapioca to boiling water and salt in the top part of a double boiler. Cook over boiling water until clear, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pare, quarter and core apples and put in greased 1-1/2 quart baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, dot with margarine, cover with cooked tapioca and bake in moderate over, 350 degrees, for 45 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve hot with cream if desired.


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