What’s in Mrs. Hale’s Receipts for the Million 1857?
2680. A Paris card of invitation to an evening party usually implies that you are invited for the season.
Frazier, A Little Town in a Wilderness
Today we’re going up to my fictional settlement of Frazier, Washington, in the North Cascades, the setting for Timber Rose, prequel to Tree Soldier. It’s 1907 and Caroline, her forest ranger husband Bob Alford and their mountain climbing friends are celebrating Christmas. What was it like?
Frazier is based on the history of Glacier and Maple Falls, Washington, at least on the surface. There are many other elements drawn from the history and settlement of this rugged area and the surrounding county, Whatcom. Logging and mining were early draws to the area, but when the Forest Service was created in 1905, the region drew a new set of people to the area: mountaineers and conservationists who wanted to explore and create public access to the stunning wilderness. The jewel crown of the mountains was white-headed Mount Baker and the surrounding peaks. At the time, there were few roads, let alone trails. The coming of the Mazamas in 1906 and the Mountaineers, the Seattle off-shot of the famous hiking club in 1907, changed that. Timber Rose explores some of this history and the amazing women who dared to climb mountains in skirts. Years later, the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps would complete much of the initial dream to make the mountains accessible to the average person. I told this story in Tree Soldier.
Christmas in the Forests and Mountains
Christmas in the mountains, was no different than in the city, except for a few things. People had to go no further than their backyards to cut a Christmas tree or make garlands, but at the local mercantile (general store) they could purchase Christmas postcards to send out to loved ones and friends. Postage was one cent at the time.
Though a mercantile could have toys, special Christmas ideas for the ladies and families on hand, presents could be ordered from the Sears Catalogue. Bob Alford in Timber Rose loved to fish and Sears had an extensive section. The Pacific Northwest, some fly fishing equipment from England was still considered the highest quality, but the pages in the catalog offered many good items.
Christmas in 1907 could also mean making a gift. Frazier homes had electricity thanks to a local mill, but a treadle sewing machine would do the trick too. Knitted goods and needlecraft could provide gifts as well.
Women were very interested in getting the vote in 1907 (which Washington women got in 1910). There were many clubs even in the mountains that supported the interests of women. There could be some Christmas cheer there too in holiday programs, church services and pageants.
Food would have been important part of the holiday. Hogs and turkeys raised locally would provide the hams and stuffed turkey for the table, but elk or deer sausage and smoked salmon and trout, always plentiful in rivers in the area, would also be found there. In the kitchen there would be a lot of cooking going on. This recipe for marmalade would make a nice gift for someone.
- 8 cups filtered water
- 6 navel oranges, about 2 1/2 lbs
- 1 1/2 lbs white sugar
- 4 cups rhubarb, chopped into small pieces, about 4 stalks or 1 lb.
You’ll need a candy thermometer and a large, heavy bottom pot. It Servings: About 3 pints of marmalade
Excerpt from Timber Rose:
It’s 1907 Caroline and Bob are celebrating their first Christmas together, but she suffered a miscarriage earlier and is still fearful of getting pregnant again.
While the days to Christmas came fast, but Caroline thought the world around Frazier slowed down as tree and rock succumbed to deep cold. Even the river moved slow within its traces, sliding over frozen stones like mint-green ice. Then just before Christmas, the temperature rose and a terrific wind came up, knocking down trees and for half a day the electric power to the town. Still its citizens persevered and on Christmas Eve by lantern light, Caroline and Alford joined their friends for supper and carols at the hotel. At midnight, they started for home in their wagon.
Coming into the house, they found the electricity back on. While Caroline put water on the kitchen stove for cocoa, Alford stoked the parlor stove. When she joined him there, she caught him poking around their Christmas tree where cards were stuck in between the branches of the Douglas fir.
“Sneak,” she teased. “Just like a kid.” She went over to the window and lit a candle on a little table set there. Its light glanced off the window pane, illuminating her face. When she turned around, Alford gazed at her. He still wore his heavy forestry coat, the front unbuttoned. It made him look both disheveled and rakish.
“It’s Christmas morning,” he rationalized. “Our first Christmas together.”
“So it is, but we always opened after breakfast.”
“My brothers and I usually came down before three to check the packages.” He glanced at the wall clock. “The late hour we’re at –“
“It’s sinful to want.” She went over to the window and began to draw the drapes.
“Can’t I open at least one thing?”
Caroline laughed. “I suppose so, but please let me pick.” She reached for a small package in its pungent branches. Alford touched her wrist lightly in his hand.
“Not that. I can wait.” When he searched her eyes, she became very quiet. “There’s only one thing I want, Caroline. Only one thing you alone can give.”
Caroline swallowed. She trembled head to toe. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it softly. He didn’t take his eyes off of her.
“Say yes,” he whispered.
Caroline swallowed again. She thought back to what Cathy had said a few days ago. “You don’t have to put a man in the root cellar, you know.”
“Yes…” Her voice was so soft, she wondered if he heard it.
He drew her to him, holding her just in front of him. “I promised, you know. And I promise you again. I love you, sweetheart. I want to be a good husband to you in every way and I’ll be careful.” He kissed her on her forehead, then gave her just the barest kiss on her lips. She smiled weakly, making a little noise when he kissed her on the side of her mouth. Why she looked at the angel hanging on the tree, she didn’t know, but she continued to stare at it as his fingers stroked the space above her high, lacy collar. He kissed her again and she knew his hunger. It’d been so long.
He reached behind and worked on her shirt waist’s many buttons, his passion rising. When he removed the waist leaving her only in her corset and under-waist, her heart pounded. Her mouth came dry when the waist dropped to the floor.
“Lord, you’re so beautiful.” His words gave her goose bumps. He pulled her to him, then working on the hooks one-handed, began to kiss and caress her on the mouth and throat. He walked her to wall, his passion rising.
“Bob…” Caroline grabbed his hair. Feelings she hadn’t felt in a long time overwhelmed her. Her breasts tingled at the same time as her back stiffened in his arms.
“Caroline? Are you all right?”
Caroline hadn’t even been aware he had stopped. From out in the kitchen, the tea kettle whistled its shrill song. Alford’s hands left her shoulders as he pulled away and looked. She saw the desire in his eyes grow, then die down to nothing.
“I suppose I should go.” His voice filled with regret and disappointment.”We’ll burn the house down.”
Maybe it already was.
He gave her a platonic kiss on her cheek and went out into the dim hall. For a moment, Caroline hesitated, straightening out the under-waist around her breasts. Down in the kitchen she heard him cluttering around. The light was artificially bright. She looked back where the candlelight winked and bloomed like a flower in the dark. Beyond, the ornaments on the tree glittered like the stars of her honeymoon hike. Her choice was so obvious.
Alford was still in his coat as he listlessly poured hot water into the cups on the sideboard. His face told his resignation about the state of affairs in their marriage. When she turned the light off, he looked up instantly where Caroline stood with a candle. She had removed her corset and skirt, leaving her in her translucent, white underthings and dark stockings. A maroon satin ribbon was hastily tied around her waist. The shocked look on his face was so comical, that Caroline burst out laughing. She never felt so forward, so bold her life. Cathy would approve. It made it much easier for her to do what she’d set her mind to do.
“Merry Christmas, love,” she said, her voice as light as the candle’s glow.