Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dreams and Roots

A Norwegian royal visit to this country last month put me in mind of my grandfather whose birthday is today. Royalty and roots - I weigh the concepts in my mind.

King Harald and Queen Sonja were in Minnesota in October as part of a Midwest tour preceding their visit to New York City. During their visit we learned that one in five Minnesotans has Norwegian in their background. This includes me through my grandfather.

As time passes, separating us further from our original homelands, our heritage can become of mild interest or not at all. Our cultural reality is the present day. We shape ourselves by our choices and interests as much as by the guiding environment that first forms us or the rituals of belonging to any certain group.

That said, an allegiance of sort ties us to places carried in our blood. Whether our ancestors fled for reasons of persecution, hunger, opposition to current authority or for opportunity of any kind including economic gain or plain simple adventure, some of their reasoning for starting over rides in our veins.

We continue to bring forth and bring out the realization of the hopes they brought to this country. Whether our immigrant forebears are a generation removed or as ancient as the land bridges from Asia we all come from somewhere. We're headed to dreams we call our own. These dreams are our preferences for the life we wish to lead. Nevertheless they proceed from what comes before.

Their majesties bring with them a renewed sense of the importance of ties. We keep and honor ties because of their value. It's a value based on no mere thing.Ties are stronger than the casual connection on which we base many of our relationships or loyalties these days. It implies an essential attitude of allegiance based perhaps on nothing more than respect and good will. This is enough.

My grandfather, born a year after his teenage mother came to this country, grew up American. Norwegian might have been spoken in the home in the first years. Norwegian traditions and foods went into the makeup of the ethnic community in which they lived. But all in that farm community had dreams. They put down roots so their dreams could flourish and the families born here could take new strength from the land.

Vision is passed along through the decades. It alters as it will and as we make it happen. Our part is to choose our dreams well. Our decisions will describe our future. We are wise to borrow from the past to build our dreams. Experience serves us well. In the testimony of those who've gone before it offers the abundance of hope.

When grandpa was born the farm neighbor women came to visit. Fruit soup, a Christmas Eve tradition and a gift to the sick (and new mothers it would seem), was brought. This old recipe, copied down, handed along and surely modified at some time, is below.

Fruit Soup

2 cups raisins
2 cups prune
1 cup dried apples
1 cup dried apricots
few slices lemon
pinch salt
cinnamon stick
5 cups water

Boil until fruit is tender. Add 3/4 cup sugar (to taste). Add 1/2 cup tapioca, some grape juice and 1 can mandarin oranges, drained, and cook until tapioca is tender. Remove cinnamon stick.

Ro Giencke - November 3, 2011

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