Reliving History by Lake Superior!

No wonder the French named it Lake Superior! It took me two days to know the reason. When I first observed the Lake from the historic Glensheen Mansion this Fall, it looked serene, innocent and breathtakingly beautiful…as docile as an angel!


There was no trace of secrecy, aggression or passion, which it has been accused of for centuries.

However the following day, the Lake revealed it’s wild, stormy side… threatening us with its power and supremacy like a treacherous woman. The Lake certainly displays a superiority complex, hence the name!


Nevertheless, the charm of this largest lake in the world, which holds incredible history, mysteries and stories within and around its shores, is infinite. I am sure it exerts certain power on onlookers…I found it hard to look away from its bewitching presence!


Not far from its majestic shores stands the historic and hospitable Glensheen Mansion! It is filled with stories and anecdotes of the illustrious Congdon family of Minnesota, that once lived here.


The house museum presents the lifestyle of the rich and famous in early 20th century, America. Its antiques and artifacts are admirably preserved. (Portraits – Chester and Clara Congdon, the owners of the mansion).


Even the rugs, clothings, towels and tid bits have been taken care of. Ah, how great it would be to live in a mansion like this one with 39 splendidly decorated rooms, artistic gardens, boats and carriages…and a view to die for!


The present decor of Glensheen is almost identical to what it originally had been. We were first escorted by our lively guide to tour the Congdon boys’ rooms on the third floor and then we moved on to explore the girls’ chambers on second floor. The ground floor was the most magnificent, furnished with exquisite valuables everywhere. The sunlit Lake peeped at us through most of the rooms.


Every nook and corner of this mansion is worth a deep study!


The luxurious bathrooms were attached to most of the rooms and had stylish fittings.


We also met Evelyn, the almost 100 year old doll (with goat’s hair), belonging to one of the girls in the family.

The servants had their own rooms and dining space. The formal dining space was gorgeous and so was the breakfast room. I even pictured myself as one of the ladies of the mansion, wearing an embroidered gown, sipping tea from a carved silver cup in the breakfast room!

We went up to the attic with the guide and learnt more about Chester and Clara Congdon’s rare arts and book collection.

It is important to mention that an unfortunate incident happened here in June 1977. It involved the murders of Elisabeth Congdon, the youngest daughter of Clara and Chester Congdon, and her nurse Velma Pietila. The tragedy is not discussed during the tours in honour of the Congdon family legacy. However, several books have been written on the suspenseful murders.


As we strolled outdoor along the trails, landscaped gardens and water bodies surrounding the mansion, the morning air filled us with delight. My kids loved exploring the ‘castle’ while dear husband took some gorgeous pictures.

 When it was time to bid goodbye to the lovely mansion…nostalgia for the bygone era filled me. I felt hard to tear myself away from romance and history and come back to present. I felt as if we had become a part of the history!

We moved on to view other jewels in and around Duluth along the shores of Lake Superior – The Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls, Aerial Lift Bridge, Maritime Visitor Centre.



On our way back home to Minneapolis from this memorable trip, the unpredictable Lake Superior took on the role of a gracious hostess, meandering with us for a while to keep us company…before disappearing out of sight…!

‘I Love You’ in the Snow

  What a lovely morning! Yesterday’s snow blizzard has left the world around me covered in a sheet of soft snow. It is a sunny day today and sunlight is gently alighting on the snow, giving it a sweet golden glow. 

  
Have you ever noticed? The sun and snow make a gorgeous, passionate couple. But their romance is always shortlived as they are extremes. They refuse to compromise and live together, respecting each other’s identity. I know, sooner or later, either sun will make the snow melt into oblivion or a snow storm will overpower the warmth of the sun. But for now, they look angelic together!

 As I slide the blinds of our little window, to admire this shortlived romance, something catches my eye. A big ‘I Love You’ on the snow carpeted ground takes me by surprise. Perhaps, last night or early this morning, someone braved the cold to engrave that for his or her beloved. It looks sweet and reminds me of sunny, sugary, youthful romance.

  
It is the month of February and Valentine’s day is nearing. Love is in the air and now engraved on the ground. Ah! I inhale the purity of love! 

 After a while, I want to play Sherlock and find out the lovers involved in this wonderful display of love. The footmarks around the engraved letters ‘I love you’ seems to be that of a man. The lover has written it hastily to surprise her. I keep a watch and wait for the beloved to arrive there. No one comes! Perhaps, she has seen that through her window. “Who is the lucky girl?”, I wonder!

Since a college is nearby, there are a lot of college-goers in our apartment. And such love extravaganza can only be expected from someone in his 20s. I make a few guesses and keep looking out at intervals.

  
My mind wanders back to the romance of sun and snow. Unearthly, sublime, stunning! But so shortlived! 

Love was dreaded and considered a frivolous word when I was growing up in a conservative set up. I never wanted anything to do with Love. I loved my books and the characters in it. That was it. Gradually, I learned to be comfortable around the four letter word. Lo and behold, now, I enjoy observing it!

I take my seat by the window to play Sherlock again. I wish this lover and his beloved have a life like the sun and snow but not short lived rather everlasting. I hope they respect each other’s individuality and not try to win against each other.

The glorious glow of love seems to be everywhere at this time of the year. My watch is on…hope the mystery lovers show up!

( This is based on a true incident. All pictures are mine except for the first one, ie, courtesy Google.)

Leave Off Your Works, Bride – Relive the romance of yore!

  
  
Today, as I sat reading poetry, I came across this sublime love poem by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The beauty of “Leave off Your Works, Bride” is such that it took me back in time…in the days of our grandparents, when it was not easy for couples to meet or romance. There were customs, family traditions, disapproving elders and unwritten rules that were to be observed before the consummation of an arranged marriage. Love marriage was out of question!

The poem talks about the period of anticipation that precedes the onset of romance between newly weds in a traditional arranged marriage set up.

It is a part of ‘The Gardener’, a lesser known love poem collection than the spiritual ‘Gitanjali'(1913), for which Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. Both were published in the same year – 1913, but ‘Gitanjali’ received an overwhelming response and the latter got overshadowed. Nevertheless, ‘The Gardener’ is great in its own way. And “Leave off Your Works, Bride” underscores my observation.

  
The verses evoke gentle and deep romance of the yore. It takes us into one of those ancient Bengali households, where a bride awaits her guest ( husband). The poet is encouraging her to welcome the guest (husband) but the bride seems shy, reluctant and nervous. The poet gives well meaning advices to her, asking her to leave all work and win over him. He is trying to lessen the awkwardness of first meeting between husband and wife in their first meeting. The poem abounds in imagery. It is as if Tagore, the artist-poet, is painting with words.

What made me fall in love with this song is one particular imagery – a veiled beautiul bride, holding a lamp, consumed with contrasting emotions, getting ready to meet her unknown husband!

Enjoy the poem and interpret this classic in your own way!

  
Leave off Your Works Bride – RABINDRANATH TAGORE

Leave off your works, bride. Listen, the guest has come.
Do you hear, he is gently shaking the fastening chain of the door?

Let not your anklets be loud, and your steps be too hurried to meet him.

Leave off your works, bride, the guest has come, in the evening.
No, it is not the wind, bride. Do not be frightened.

It is the full-moon night of April, shadows are pale in the court-yard, the sky overhead is bright.

Draw your veil over your face if you must, take the lamp from your room if you fear.

No, it is not the wind, bride; do not be frightened.         
Have no word with him if you are shy, stand aside by the door when you meet him.

If he asks you questions, lower your eyes in silence, if you wish.

Do not let your bracelets jingle, when, lamp in hand, you lead him in.

Have no word with him if you are shy.
Have you not finished your works yet, bride? Listen, the guest has come.            

Have you not lit the lamp in the cowshed?

Have you not got ready the offering basket for the evening service?

Have you not put the auspicious red mark at the parting of your hair, and done your toilet for the night?

         O bride, do you hear, the guest has come?

         Have you not finished your works yet?

Images courtesy Google