COUNTRY ECHOES

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R. R. 2, Brandon, Wisconsin 53919.

Somehow, when winter shuts us in we can settle down to a comfortable and relaxing routine if we don't fight the confinement too strongly.

Last week I met several people who have learned to make something absorbing and worthwhile out of their hobbies. The wonderful part of it is that husband and wife teams are sharing these interests.

First I want to introduce an 84 year old lady from Aurora, Illinois. Winnie Baumez was the Queen of the Steam Show held on the George Hedtke farm near Davis Junction, Illinois. She formerly played the piano in theaters in the days of silent movies. Can't you just hear that exciting music as the horses thundered across the plains? She was frisking about in a simple dress and white sweater when we arrived; still very pert at 84. Winnie's husband, Herman, was busy weaving baskets of reed which he acquires from a source in Connecticut. These are trimmed with wooden beads from Hong Kong.

Mr. Baumez learned his trade as a young man in Germany and has been weaving ever since. Formerly he used willow branches, but now sticks with reed. The cradles for dolls were most charming (in various sizes) and any grandma among you might want to contact him for an unusual Christmas gift for that special little granddaughter on your list. They reside at R. R. #3, Box 342, Jericho Road, Aurora, Illinois 60504. He gave me his card so I am sure he is eager to sell.

Wayne and Ruth Geeting (Grandpa and Grandma Happy) have filled their last six years with learning as much as they can about spinning and dyeing yarn with natural dyes. This couple lives at Route 1, Sterling, Illinois 61081. They are much in demand for demonstrations in schools, women's clubs, mother-daughter banquets, etc.

The Geetings raise their own Black Karakul sheep for wool, also white sheep and Angora rabbits They have broom corn, flax, and cotton growing there as well. There were two pieces she had on display which were of special interest. One was a small mat made of the hair from their daughter's dog. And she also showed me a handful of hair from a buffalo. It looked rather messy to me.

The plants used in the dyeing process varied from thistles to coffee, tea to walnut hulls, mullein to pokeberries, marigolds to dandelions. She said wool can be dipped in water brought to the boiling point if the rinses are maintained at the same temperature.

Something more I learned was how hand spindles were used for spinning before the wheel was invented. She showed me the procedure. They had researched back into the family history for six generations to find an actual spinner. So they are most pleased with their accomplishment and well they might be.

I also learned that Leonardo de Vinci invented one type of spinning wheel. She had one of these plus a walking wheel where you had to stand on your feet and walk to spin, and one imported from the Orient, I believe. The couple also have their own cows churning butter, and making cottage cheese of the skim milk.

Across the way from the spinners a lady was working on a most unusual hobby. She is Gen Wolf of R. 3, Aurora, Illinois. She was seated before a 2 harness loom making attractive rugs from plastic bread wrappers. I think my mouth fell way open about then. They were so attractive, and she had on display a small blue and white rug which she had used in her bathroom for four years. It looked almost new. Local school cafeterias, restaurants and neighbors, supply her with the material. (After trying to poke my fingers through much plastic in opening packages I will vouch for their durability.) And they had a bright satiny sheen as well.

So it would seem that among the old, revived, and among the new, utilized, perhaps we may find the 'plain proximity' I mentioned in the poem.

On Sunday morning we heard an outstanding message as we sat among a small group of worshippers under the trees and open sky. One well presented incident will stay with me for life.

Back in the thirteenth century one poet and theologian, Thomas Aquinas, went to visit Pope Innocent II and found him counting the money belonging to the church. Innocent II commented that 'No more can it be said of the church 'Silver and gold have I none'.' To which Aquinas replied, 'Very true, Holy Father, but neither can it say 'Rise up and walk'.

' The sun came through the clouds as we were worshipping in this beautiful setting of a circle of trees, interspersed with many majestic loners to shade us. Our crude benches, backless and not too comfortable became part of a Holy place as Paster B. Powell's message on 'God Can Change What Men Cannot Change' unfolded before us. He read Acts 3:1-10 about the crippled beggar. He pointed out that this beggar received 'for his lameness leaping' and 'for his almspraise.' He left us with the thought that 'Our obedience has to be faster than the speed of our doubt.'

'Hello,' all you good people I met at Hedtke's Reunion. I didn't find space for you all.

A thrust of change embroiders air To frosty edges, and despair Of how we'll meet our heating bills Plus gasoline, and added frills May push us into lesser space Before next Spring can show her face. But, give us, Lord the sense to see We'll thrive on plain proximity.