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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Beacon Bits -- Re-Imagining

We are always remembering what we no longer have or do. I am sure that is how the small group of dedicated volunteers who started the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society (MBIRRS) felt when they looked at the mountain and no longer saw the railway, but could still remember the ride up to the top. Mike Colarusso, the current president of the MBIRRS, and all of the individuals who ever worked on the project (including former Beacon mayors Clara Gould and Steve Gold--among others) and those who are still working and moving forward together on the capital campaign (including Frank Skartados, Jeff McHugh, Mayor Randy Casale--among others) had a strong memory of the past or an acute imagination or vision for the future. The MBIRRS website tells the history and the narrative story leading up to the present state of affairs with accuracy and details far better than I can.
But I can tell you that after attending the Annual Gala for MBIRRS at Dutchess Manor on 12/19/13, the word is official that the support to move ahead on rebuilding the railway is stronger than ever. The most recent initiative is to have the mountain itself become part of Hudson Highlands State Park, which will occur sometime in the spring, while the acreage at the foot of the mountain (e.g., the area surrounding the parking lot and back towards the remnants of the railway) will remain part of Scenic Hudson. It certainly makes sense from a logistical standpoint to gain further support from New York State. After all, it is Mount Beacon that is in our state flag, as you will learn when you view the MBIRRS video entitled "Excelsior."
So if you haven't become a member of the society as of yet, now is the time to support MBIRRS. You can even order items online from their gift shop, like the cap with their logo. If you already have one, get one for a friend as a gift. It is a true vision to get everyone to the mountaintop - those who can still climb and those who may require a ride with ADA accommodations. We all need to get on board.

Food for thought:  This idea that one can use memory to remember the past (retrospective memory) or imagine the future (a form of prospective memory) caught my attention this Christmas season. I said to a friend the other day during a moment of reflection, "Remember, we are always making memories." I realized that this is a good reminder for those who have  either bad memories or good memories about past holidays. Grounded only in the present moment, we can recreate new and better memories that we can take with us into the future or we can recapitulate the memories that we hold dear, but cannot have in the same way because we have lost the people or the places that were their context. The choice of our memories going forward is in our hands from each moment to moment. What a gift!
In Search of New Memories
Four Side Dishes for a Boneless Center Cut Pork Roast Holiday Dinner
(Inspired by my company--Danish friend,Jens Bille and his wife Bettyann, from Gallery  508)

Braised Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
1 head red cabbage, canola oil, caraway seeds, organic balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt & pepper
Mashed Butternut Squash
Cooked butternut squash, butter, maple syrup, touch of cream, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract
After mashing all ingredients, place mixture in bowl and bake in oven to serve.

Holiday Stuffing-All the Ingredients
1 1b. loaf whole wheat bread, cubed; sautéed celery and shallots in 2 tbs .butter; poultry seasoning, parsley,
salt & pepper, 2 cups chicken stock, 1 beaten egg, 2 handful chopped walnuts, 12 diced, pitted prunes

Holiday Stuffing - Ready to Bake
Mix all ingredients until blended/wet to bake in oven in covered dish.
Vegetable Mélange for Roasting
1 fennel bulb, 8 small yams, 5 cored and peeled apples--all sliced lengthwise; canola oil,
juice and zest from 1/2 navel orange, tarragon, allspice, salt & white pepper 
Mix well to coat vegetables and bake in oven until tender.

Please note: The pork roast was not shown in deference to my vegetarian and vegan friends. Most of the side dishes shown can be adapted to be vegan. With the exception of the holiday stuffing, the recipes are gluten free; substituting gluten-free bread is possible.

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