Catalogs, catalogs, catalogs and more catalogs
~ Maureen Brucker

They start arriving with the first cool evenings

of fall. Stacks of them. Some for holiday gifting,

others for winter dreaming of spring gardens to

come. By the first of the year, only the garden

and seed catalogs continue to arrive, ready for

deep winter dreaming and next year's planting.

Next to the well loved rocker near the wood stove the pile grew like weeds after a spring rain. Only the garden catalogs remained. The others had been recycled in one way or another or as a last resort, became fire starter for the stove. On top of the stack is my trusty pad of graph paper, the garden template, a collection of pencils and an old fashioned gum eraser. Let the planning continue!

In an enameled cast iron stew pot in a corner of the wood stove simmered white beans. I quietly smiled and thought of my second mom. She and her youngest son had been with me as we scoured thrift stores in Denver looking for serving baskets and the odd large pot. There in the corner, under a pile of baking trays, was this magnificent Copco pot. The price was more in line with the trays and the tag was one that was on special that day. We could not believe the good fortune. We talked about it all the way back to Greeley.

Mom took the journey almost three years ago but there are some things I will never forget. This is especially true when I make a pot of Great Northern Beans, her favorite. While I do not make them like she did, I think she would approve. Two full heads of garlic peeled, two pounds of beans sorted, two yellow onions chopped, four or five rainbow carrots shredded, water to fill the pot. I soak the beans the afternoon before and rinse. Add the rest and let it simmer til the beans are thoroughly cooked. Corn tortillas heated on the stove or a skillet of corn bread are fine additions. Carrot and celery sticks along with radishes and cucumber slices add crunch. A bowl of luscious ripe pears finishes off the simple meal.

Next weekend, the pot will again be the center of attention on the stove. This time, it will be filled with my famous corn chili. Other items requiring warming will be scattered around the stove top as well. In the center of the side table that generally holds desserts and other needed items will be an old coffee can decorated with the logos of the teams playing. In it goes the contributions to the Whisper n Thunder erez fund. It also gets passed around in the course of the afternoon. We may be entertained and warm, but elders are freezing on reservations across the country. Everyone is encouraged to give.

Another way to help is to talk to your work's Human Resources department. Many companies participate in matched giving or at least permit a checkoff with direct deposit as Whisper n Thunder is a federally recognized nonprofit.

If all else fails, you can go to www.whispernthunder.org and click on the donate button.

Anything you can give is helpful, any time of year.