Caleb’s my man.

I came to the last page of Middlemarch, and it’s not even the last day of June! Ah, but now begins the work that is harder than the reading: sifting and organizing my thoughts about the story and stories of that novel so as to write some of them here in a way that might edify.

In the meantime, I have to say that I love the character of Caleb Garth more than anyone. His kind of “business” is not at all what people think of these days who are majoring in Business in college. They often think mostly of making a living somehow, but Caleb is intent on improving the land and doing good by people, the livestock and the earth. He often forgets to make provision for his own financial needs, and loves nothing better, as he says to his wife, than:

“…to have a chance of getting a bit of the country into good fettle, as they say, and putting men into the right way with their farming, and getting a bit of good contriving and solid building done — that those who are living and those who come after will be the better for. I’d sooner have it than a fortune. I hold it the most honourable work that is.” … “It’s a great gift of God, Susan.”

“That it is, Caleb,” said his wife, with answering fervor. “And it will be a blessing to your children to have had a father who did such work: a father whose good work remains though his name may be forgotten.”

A good man or woman adorns the earth by his presence alone, but if in addition he is able to oversee the wise management of farms and estates, with honesty and without greed, it is satisfying and holy work.

The last two weeks I’ve been working at less enduring tasks, but I’m still pleased with the results. Of course, there is always my garden which I tend. In the third year of being on my own I became acutely aware of the importance to my heart and psyche of my house as well, of the whole property that is mine alone now, and which I manage and am responsible for. The changes in my feelings are complicated and subtle; I see how God and His angels carried me through the time when I seemed to have little strength of will to apply. Now we will see how He guides me in this new phase when I am ready to participate more fully in my own affairs!

I’m working on the sourdough bread experiments again — yes, and they result in very short-lived products of my efforts, being highly desirable consumables. Today a Swedish seeded sourdough rye boule that is still rising will be cooked in the Dutch oven. Last week, these loaves:

But no time yet, to dwell on details of dough and ovens, or on great themes of Middlemarch, because Pippin (who took the photo in England above, by the way) is arriving with two grandchildren for a few days. I’ll be taking care of Ivy (almost 6) and Jamie (3) while she attends a conference for work nearby. Scout won’t be in the group because he is backpacking with his father.

I’ve joined a book group of women in my parish. I didn’t finish the recent read, but I’m confident that I’ll have time to read Fidelity by Wendell Berry before our next discussion this summer.

My computer is giving me fits as usual, and the Computer Guy is on his way, so I will get back to my real, tangible work now, and give him this space, and see you next week! May your summer reading and work be satisfying.

15 thoughts on “Caleb’s my man.

  1. You will have a busy wonderful time soon with two small grandchildren coming! I know you’re always busy though. You amaze me with all you do.

    I have never read Middlemarch, didn’t have an inkling of what it is about. But it’s on my list now just from reading about Caleb, a man after my own heart. And oh, how my father would have approved of him.

    Those loaves of bread! So pretty and I can almost taste them.

    I noticed you’re reading Rumer Godden books. She is such a favorite of mine. I reread China Court and This House of Brede every year. I may have told you that before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bravo, Gretchen, for completing the book a second time and before the ‘deadline’. Yes, I agree with you about Caleb Garth. He’s faithful, upright (refusing to look after Bulstrode’s property after knowing about how he made his fortunes), he can be discerning yet not judgemental. That’s hard to come by. Anyway, I’m so glad to have you join us and share with us your comments and views in your posts. Enjoy your grandchildren, your gardening, baking, and all the chores of summer! And, happy summer reading! BTW, I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook of All the Light We Cannot See, will check out your review post now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tending a garden, reading a book, attending to the family, praying, baking those beautiful loaves of bread are precious God’s gifts. More than to fill a heart.

    Have a wonderful time with your grandchildren.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful photo by Pippin! Enjoy the time together. My mom is doing all the things in the house alone, mowing, etc. after her 4 children started our own families & dad passed. I hope to be a strong woman, if in the same situation one day. The seeded sourdough looks delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love Wendell Berry’s poetry so will do a search of our libraries here and see if they have any of his books to read too. Your breads looks delicious too, I am not overly successful with bread but I keep trying. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun with your grandchildren. Meg:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, that bread! I can see that my remembrances of Middlemarch are practically nonexistent. I recall the three main characters, and that seems to be it – the question now is: Will I read it again someday, or won’t I?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really like that top picture. It seems that photos of the English countryside look so much more charming than any taken in North America.

    Your bread looks wonderful. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to eat gluten free because I love to bake and to eat bread!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so glad that you wrote me. I have been so interested in the Orthodox faith and your blog will be such a lovely place to visit and learn.

    When I became a Christian, I developed such a love for the Theotokos. I really have no reason why and the church that my husband and I attend is of the Protestant faith.

    Thank you for writing me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, Caleb makes me want to read Middlemarch as well! And that bread makes me want to try that. My stepdad loves to make his own sourdough starter, though I think he’s eased off of bread baking in his later years. I loved our place in the country and would have liked to stay there. Although I could have kept up with mowing a lawn area, the 6 acres would have gone to pot with only me to manage it. My sons said they would find a way for me to keep it if I wanted to stay there, but I didn’t want to put a financial burden on them. So, I let it go and God will fill my life with other things. Of course, I’m so thankful for the chance to join my daughter’s family on their little country place. Even better with family!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello Grethen Joanna! I have been longing to get on your blog and see what you have said about Middlemarch. I hope to post something soon about my progress! Several weeks back I was contemplating my favorite character, and at the time I recorded Mary Garth, but truly I have loved the Garth family and I would certainly place a definite star beside Caleb’ name.

    Did you make your own sourdought starter? I have no luck with beginning one…

    I might have forgotten that you “have” an Ivy also. How nice!

    Liked by 1 person

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