Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mt. Hood Lodge and The Ballad of The Boston Tea Party

"No! never such a draught was poured
Since Hebe served with nectar
The bright Olympians and their Lord
Her over-kind protector-
Since Father Noah squeezed the grape
And took to such behaving
As would have shamed our grandsire ape
Before the days of shaving."  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

For those of us born in Oregon's Willamette Valley, Mt. Hood is our Polaris, our Mecca, our True North.  It is the sacred lodestar by which we guide our memory's ship through the past of our life.  
"That night in Boston Harbor!
The western war-clouds crimson stained...
Fast spread the tempest's darkening pall
The mighty realms were troubled
The storm broke loose, but first of all
The Boston teapot bubbled!"  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

We all come to this place.  We all travel the same routes to arrive here.  We may imagine ourselves as sojourners to parts unknown, but Mt. Hood unites us in shared memory.
"An evening party, only that
No formal invitation
No gold-laced coat, no stiff cravat
No feast in contemplation
No silk-robed dames, no fiddling band
No flowers, no songs, no dancing
A tribwe of red men, axe in hand
Behold the guests advancing!
How fast the stragglers join the throng
From stall and workshop gathered."  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

We marvel at the same evergreens.  We stop for hot chocolate and cinnamon cookies at the same cafes.  We stomp the snow from our boots on the same wooden floors and warm our woolen socks on stones around the same fire pit.  Yes, even the Mt. Hood Lodge has become a home away from home in the recollections of many of us.
"On-on to where the tea-ships ride!
And now their ranks are forming
A rush, and up the Dartmouth's side
The Mohawk band is swarming!
See the fierce natives! What a glimpse
Of paint and fur and feather
As all at once the full-grown imps
Light on the deck together!
A scarf the pigtail's secret keeps
A blanket hides the breeches
And out the cursed cargo leaps
And overboard it pitches!"  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Weather is always a sign of fortune.  High atop Mt. Hood lodge one can see Mt. Jefferson on a clear day or gaze downward at snow clouds gently powdering the highway below.
"The lurid morning shall reveal
A fire no king can smother
Where British flint and Boston steel
Have clashed against each other!
Old charters shrivel in its track
His worship's bench has crumbled."  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

It's a perfect place to bring friends from far away... to sled and ski and play fight with snowballs as many as you can muster.
"It climbs and clasps the union-jack
Its blazoned pomp is humbled
The flags go down on land and sea
Like corn before the reapers
So burned the fire that brewed the tea
That Boston served her keepers!"  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Along the timeline of our American Revolution Unit, we come to the Boston Tea Party... and my daughters and I were reading this old poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Oh, how poetry has always been my link to the outside world.  Where would I be without poetry?  And to study the Revolution through the words of poets... is such a gift.  
"Sill live in song and story
The waters in the rebel bay
Have kept the tea-leaf savor
Our old North-Enders in their spray
Still taste a Hyson flavor
And freedom's teacup still o'erflows
With ever fresh libations
To cheat of slumber all her foes
And cheer the wakening nations."  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

I imagine the participants of the Boston Tea Party, dressed as paint-faced Indians with tomahawks, boarding the ships and tossing the tea into the harbor, had no idea that night would mark the rest of their days.  They had no notion this one evening would change the course of their lives or all of American history.  They were just doing what was in their heart, following a North Star of their own belief toward a unified place and time.  For years and years later, they must have laughed to themselves and with others who joined in the fray that night.  We were there together, weren't we?  This makes us all brothers and sisters, daughters and sons of a same distant light shining from far away, leading us home. 

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