Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dirty dishes and the end of the world

Well, not really "amazing," more like "interesting."

Quite frankly, I get a little confused about when the world ends. At first I thought it was today, December 12, 2012. So why the heck waste all that time last night washing dishes? Then I found out that Dec. 21, also winter solstice, is the projected date. Drat. A few more days to wash, scald and dry.

But today will be a great day for my old friend Peter, aka The Worth Brewing Company guy (think Northwood). Peter collects harmonious and/or interesting combinations of numbers --- for no particular reason. He used to do this, and perhaps still does, while reading obituaries. "Hey, look, this guy was born on 11/11/11." That sort of thing.

So shortly after noon today, at 12:12:12 on 12/12/12, I'm going to lift a glass to Peter Ausenhus. Water, I'm afraid. No Worth Brewing Co. products on hand.


Or maybe I'll go up to Piper's and get a bottle of Peace Tree Brewing Co. root beer. That's brewed in Knoxville, along with Red Rambler, Hop Wrangler 3 IPA, Rye Porter, Blonde Fatale and other seasonal and small-batch delights --- if you like real beer.

For better or worse, I don't. Yes, I know, I'm a philistine. I've really tried to like beer over the years, even sampled Peace Tree products during the recent Farm Crawl. Just hasn't taken. I do like Peace Tree root beer, however.

Peace Tree Brewing is named after Marion County's waterlogged landmark, The Peace Tree, which I suggested recently might by now have disappeared entirely under the waters of the Red Rock reservoir. Bill corrected me on that, adding as a comment to this post: "The sycamore lost about 4 feet off the top during the winter of 2011/2012, but as of June 2012 it still projected 7 feet above normal pool level and was quite visible from the bridge." That's the long bridge that carries Highway 14 across the lake north of Knoxville. I'm going to drive up and look one of these days. Maybe today, come to think of it.

The Peace Tree folks originally were going to call their enterprise the White Breast Brewing Co., but chickened out and opted for Peace Tree, perhaps because the name of Lucas County's most scenic streams, both the big and little White Breasts, could be misinterpreted.

Folks still fuss about why the White Breast is called that, dragging out the tired old legend that some of Lucas County's original owners ran into a bear with a white chest somewhere along it. The most logical explanation is that Whitebreast was the surname of a Meskwaki family that lived prior to the EuroAmerican invasion somewhere near the big White Breast's junction with the Des Moines River near Painted Rocks. I was gratified so see, while reading Des Moines Register obituaries a few months ago, that the surname Whitebreast still is in use at the Meskwaki Settlement near Tama.

Lucas County had a Whitebreast Township, just west of Chariton through which the big White Breast passes, but spells the name as one word. Warren County's White Breast Township, however, is spelled as the creek name is spelled. I'm writing this down here because this confuses me sometimes.


Maybe it's just me, but it's seemed this season that "war on Christmas" hysteria has been more subdued, which if so would be a good thing. This is another instance of folks getting way too involved with ascribing meaning to dates.

No one has a clue as to what Jesus's real birth date might have been. Most scholarly types feel that the early Church planted the Christ Mass during the 4th century on the 25th because this was the date of the Roman winter solstice --- prior to introduction of the Gregorian calendar which shifted things around a little.

That date also had the advantage of shifting the centerpoint of the Roman Saturnalia celebration from the god Saturn to the new Christian god incarnate.

Whatever the case, perhaps we're genetically predisposed to fight the dying of the light with bright lights, good cheer, strong drink and massive buying sprees. There's really no reason to begrudge anyone their  Saturnalian good times. Happy holidays!

Come the 22nd, the sun will rise again and the days will begin to lengthen, So much for Mayan-related mythology. And on the 25th --- Merry Christmas!

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