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Evan Hazard: Deerwood meals and ‘Whitby Tweed’

Last you heard, I’d had my Nov. 25 appointment at University of Minnesota Hospital Dental Clinic and the “beef curry Kandy (my daughter-in-law) made when we got back to Stuart and Carol’s was fine.”  Tuesday, we drove back to Deerwood, stopping en route at a Chinese restaurant where you pay for your order and they bring it to your table. I prefer downtown Bemidji Chinese food.

In Deerwood we ate in Tuesday and Wednesday. I don’t recall the details but think at least once we had Brian’s delicious lasagna. Wednesday evening we had a light meal before going to an ecumenical Thanksgiving service at a Lutheran church, put on by several churches in Deerwood and maybe Crosby. A Catholic priest gave a good ecumenical homily:  short (five minutes) and sweet. All was followed by pie and coffee.

Thanksgiving, I understood that we were having dinner at Cascade United Methodist Church as their turn in a community holiday meal, like ours in Bemidji. Wrong. CUMC does this annually on its own, and has for several years. It was well attended and well done. Bravo.

Since December 2010, our family “Christmases” have been in summer, when roads are less icy.

I dined at the Bemidji Community Holiday Meal at Bethel Lutheran. On Christmas, you don’t have to be a BLC member to serve; Elaine and I used to wait table wherever, and even served as dining room supervisors in several churches. Mostly I now go as a guest. But my retired pastor Eric Hucke and his wife Kris were serving a table, so I sat there. I met some people I didn’t know, one of whom recognized me from the photo by this column.

However, now that Brian lives in Deerwood, it’s an easy drive there for me and also for Stuart and Carol, who live in Cambridge. Brian was tied down Christmas Eve for a CUMC service, but all decided to converge on Deerwood the Sunday after. Stuart, Carol, and granddaughter Anna drove up and back that day; I drove down Saturday, staying in the parsonage spare bedroom two nights. Saturday Brian fixed braised beef and Yorkshire pudding for supper, one of Elaine’s recipes, and equally good. There were more than enough holiday goodies at both the parsonage and after church Sunday. I went over my fat allowance three days running.

Stuart and family arrived about 11:30 on Sunday. Brian and Kandy had fixed turkey and trimmings, and Carol had brought homemade Boston cream pie, which I’d not had for years. I ate a lot, but not too much. About when we’d finished, the doorbell rang. It was “Whitby Tweed” and her mother “Madeira.” Madeira had errands to run, and Brian was to deliver Whitby to her dad “Preston” at a 5 pm meeting at CUMC.

I’d seen Whitby at CUMC that morning during “children’s time:” she spoke up more than most kids. Also, at exchanging greetings time, she gave Pastor Brian a hug, and I said “Don’t granddads get hugs, too?” and got one.

Anyway, here’s this kid surrounded by six adults, only two of whom she knows, Brian and Kandy. The youngest is University of Chicago grad student Anna, 23, and the oldest me, 84. Whitby is completely at ease, self-possessed, unintimidated. She takes part in the conversation, but not obtrusively, a delightful combination of maturity and innocence.

Carol has taught in the Cambridge/Isanti school system for decades:  4th-and 5th-grades, middle school, librarian, bright middle school kids, and more. She guesses Whitby is in 5th  grade. “Fourth; I’m 9½.”  I don’t remember all of Carol’s questions, but she has good rapport with schoolkids, and we found lots about Whitby’s fellow students, and about what she knew and could do. “Who’s the smartest kid in your class?”  “I am.”  Not boastful, just matter-of-fact.

Somebody suggested we play Pictionary. We divided into girls and boys:  Carol, Anna, Kandy, and Whitby vs. Brian, Stuart, and me; no need for number per team to be identical. Here, there was a problem:  though socially mature, Whitby didn’t have the vocabulary of anyone else there. She was sitting at the table corner next to Brian, so he just dropped out of the contest when she needed help with a word. The girls were ahead when we had to quit for Brian and Whitby to get to CUMC by 5 p.m. In some column in the last few years, I wrote that I hadn’t had so much fun at whatever it was in ages. Well, our time with Whitby is the most fun I’ve had since then.

One more culinary note:  I had a non-life threatening medical appointment in Grand Rapids Jan. 6, and drove there the night before. Had a delicious burrito at El Potro, will go there again.

EVAN HAZARD, a retired BSU biology professor, also writes “Northland Stargazing” the fourth Friday of each month.