West By Northwest.org
Spencer Creek Valley

Sunnyside of Spencer Butte

by Lois Barton

Sauerkraut and All That

his morning I started a crock of sauerkraut. The cabbages from our garden, fresh cut, crisp and sweet, were solidly filled out and clear of pests. It was a joy to slice them on the old-fashioned slaw cutter into mounds of cool green ribbons, which I lightly sprinkled with salt thoroughly mixed in, then packed into the crock until their natural juices welled up to cover the slaw. I have a wooden potato masher that was made for me as a wedding present by a cousin 50 some years ago. I used this wooden tool to gently pound each layer of salted cabbage into the crock until its juice covered that layer. Not long ago I asked this cousin whether he remembered shaping the tool in his shop class at school. He didn't.

I shared my pleasure in this operation with daughter Rachel, explaining that in fourteen days, stored at room temperature, the kraut would be cured and ready to eat. As a recent high school graduate, she is just stepping out into the future, and eager for knowledge that may be useful for new homemakers. The chances that her life will include such mundane tasks as utilizing produce from a home garden are pretty slim, but she was interested enough to consider the process and asked me about it.

"Do you add vinegar?" she asked

"No, the cabbage ferments on its own," I replied. Regarding me pensively, Rachel said, "I'm going to miss you like you miss Sina." I miss my ninety-five year old Aunt Sina who died a couple of years ago. she was the last of her generation in my immediate family. At the end of her life she still remembered many things I wanted to ask about from the days of my youth.

At eighty, I'm forty one years older than our youngest daughter Rachel. In her view I embody the wisdom and experience of previous generations. Would that I might still learn from those who are now gone. Mother and my aunties kept me in touch with times and places of the past. details of family relationships and community events which were not fully appreciated by me as a child, could be clarified in recent years by their adult perception still available to the in memory in their old age.

More important, perhaps, than such details is the transmission of cultural heritage and practical know-how bequeathed to those who follow in our footsteps. It appears to me that this process is most adequately and lovingly carried out by mothers and daughters. And I am humbly grateful for my role as a bridge between the past and the future.

Writer and historian
Lois Barton
Lois Barton is an 83 year old mother of eight children. She has lived on the same rural acreage just south of Eugene, Oregon for more than 50 years. All their children learned to milk, to keep the woodboxes filled, to do their share of household and garden chores. Her first book, Spencer Butte Pioneers, was published in 1982 when her youngest started to school. Since then she wrote five other books: Daughter of the Soil, now out of print; One Woman's West; A Quaker Promise Kept; and Through My Window, autobiographical sketches, sequel to Daughter Of the Soil. Through the years Lois has been a 4H leader, president of the neighborhood association, a precinct committee woman, election board clerk, editor of the Lane County Historian, and a life long Quaker. She spent a month in Southeast Asia in 1974 as a member of a church peace mission, after working for ten years as director of the Eugene Chapter of the World Without War Council.

Some of Lois Barton's West By Northwest On the Sunnyside of Spencer Butte articles and/or check the Archives for more:

The Cat That Flew

Charlotte's Overdose - Just who is Charlotte and what did she take?

The Midwife - The midnight call awoke an unusual midwife.

The Mystery of Fox Hollow - Fact and fiction meet in this story of the origins of Faith Rock.

Trees, Tame Trees and Squirrel.

Books by Lois Barton

History and stories of the peoples of the Northwest.

© Spencer Creek Press, West By Northwest 2000-2002 All Rights Reserved unless otherwise noted.

The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher and/or sponsors.



West by Northwest
Spencer Creek Press
PO Box 51251
Eugene OR 97405

West By Northwest

Voices of Peace, Volume VI
Africa: Peace with Justice Northwest Tour
Starhawk's Heresies in Pursuit of Peace: Thoughts on Israel/Palestine.
Sarah Shields asks Please Dad, Tell Me: How Do I Stop Being Complicit?
Peg Morton sharesMy School of the Americas (SOA) Saga.
Web links
Erbin Crowell considers Coffee and Fair Trade.
Illegal Logging Threatens Ecological and Economic Stability.
Ecstasy of Ecology - Penny Livingston and the Permaculture Institute.
Norman Solomon considers India and Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons and Media Fog and the USA's "War On Terrorism": Winking At Nuclear Terror.
M.G. Hudson asks us to Consider the Case of Patricia Sweets: The Failing Safety Net of Publicly Financed Health Insurance.
Patrick Morris, writes on the role of the Royal Pains.
High Plains Films releases This Is Nowhere
Meet Skip Schiel, an remarkable photographer
Delight in Guy Weese's Summer in the City Photos
Doug Tanour's Exodus Poems
Jane Farmer uses the medieval villanelle
Explore a few small presses with big ideas. We look at The Magic Fish, When Spirits Come Calling, Saving Wilderness in the Oregon Cascades and Cradle to Cradle.
Barbara S. Thompson's My Life, Chapter 4, Moving Out West to Los Angeles.
Cogentrix to Aquila, Going from Bad to Worse? by Mary Zemke.
Lois Barton's Sunnyside of Spencer Butte, The Cat That Flew and Sauerkraut and All That.
Jonnie Lauch's electronic debut in Nighttime Intruder.


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