Amidst a dizzying whirl of Christmas activity (which I wish was filled with glittering parties, but in actuality consists of more trips to Kohl’s than any human in their right mind should make), this little gem of a book offers a moment of peace and quiet contemplation.
Rockwell Kent and his eight year old son spent the winter of nineteen-eighteen and nineteen in a one room log cabin on Fox Island, off the south coast of Alaska. Excerpted from WILDERNESS: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska, this ‘gift book’, titled A Northern Christmas, is number one in a series published in 1941 by the American Artists Group. It includes Kent’s journal entries written over the Christmas holiday, with woodcut illustrations of the Alaskan wilderness.
“Thursday, December nineteenth
This day is never to be forgotten, so beautiful, so calm, so still with the earth and every branch and tree muffled in deep, feathery new-fallen snow. And all day the softest clouds have drifted lazily over the heaven … It was a day to Live, —and work could be forgotten. So Rockwell and I explored the woods, at first reverently treading on path, so that the snow about us might still lie undisturbed. But soon the cub in the boy broke out and he rolled in the deepest thickets, shook the trees down upon himself, lay still in the snow for me to cover him completely, washed his face till it was crimson, and wound up with a naked snow bath.”
Rockwell Kent, with the young Rockwell and their only companion on the otherwise isolated island, a Swedish gold-miner and trapper named Olson, manage to create a magnificent feast and magical atmosphere with the very simplest of supplies and materials.
“Everything goes beautifully; the wood burns as it should, the oven heats, the kettle boils, the beans stew, and the bread browns in the oven just right, and the new pudding sauce foams up as rich and delicious as though instead of the first it were the hundredth time I’d made it. ” ACB