Sunday, March 29, 2015

A memento to remember Dad by

Last Friday would have been my father’s 103rd birthday. Leonide Carrière (that last "e" got dropped somewhere along the line) died in January 2003, and although more than a decade has passed since then, I still think of him every morning.

That’s because a daily ritual always brings Dad to mind. It involves a memento of my father — a two-inch-long feather carved from moose bone. The feather is attached to a thin black cord, and every morning without fail, I pull it over my head and tuck it into my shirt.

My father didn’t give me this token, nor was he with me when I bought it. But I think of it as Dad’s feather. That's partly because I acquired it at a Maine crafts show only two months before he died, but primarily because  it reminded me of my father and his heritage the very first time I spotted it.

Both of my parents were Franco-American; both traced their ancestry to some of the earliest French settlers of New France (modern-day Québec). But Dad also had an Indian ancestor; he always had a special place in his heart for native people.

My father was a direct descendant of Jean Nicolet, the 17th-century French explorer who is sometimes called the Father of Wisconsin because he was the first European to reach Lake Michigan and what is now Green Bay. Nicolet had an illegitimate daughter (“enfant naturel” in the French records) with a member of Canada’s Nipissing tribe. His lover’s name is lost to us, but he gave their child his surname.

It seems Nicolet brought his daughter, Madeleine dite Euphrosine Nicolet, with him when he returned to Québec, where he married a Frenchwoman and his daughter married a Frenchman. If you go back nine generations, Madeleine was my father’s grandmother.

To me, that bone feather symbolizes not only my father, but his link to Madeleine and her mother’s people. A small black bead that came with Dad’s feather is long gone, and the cord has become frayed from daily wear. But I suspect the feather itself will outlast me, as it did my father.

If Madeleine dite Euphrosine Nicolet could peer into the 21st century from her perch back in the 17th, perhaps she would view that as a good thing.

And now, a few words from . . . S. J. Perelman

I'd horsewhip you if I had a horse.

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by David Horsey

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Hen Chronicles: To the brave soul who ate that very first egg

On April 21, 2012, my wife Liz and I - chicken neophytes - bought three laying hens, who set up shop in a coop in the backyard of our city lot here in Maine. The makeup of our small flock has changed since then, but not our love of chickens. The Hen Chronicles explore life with our tenants.

At some point thousands of years ago, an unheralded culinary pioneer blessed with an observant nature first saw a chicken lay an egg. It wasn't the first time a chicken had done this, of course, but it marked the first time a human had witnessed the event.

Presumably, this fellow already knew what else pops out of the working end of a hen from time to time. And yet, he grabbed the egg anyway, examined it in his hand, and said the most remarkable thing in whatever passed for a language back then: “I think I’ll eat this.”

Was he a visionary foodie? Or a masochistic lunatic? Either way, we owe him (or her) a great debt of gratitude. Without this development -- and the equally fortuitous discovery that a certain curly-tailed, mud-loving critter also is edible -- we’d never experience the joy of having bacon and eggs for breakfast.

And now, a few words from . . . Dorothy Parker

Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Rob Rogers