A hunger for beauty

Manitoba autumn

Manitoba is not the Autumn Glory centre of the world, I’ll grant you that. It has to do with our particular climate, the kinds of trees that grow here, and so on. The “East” is definitely the place to be for spectacular oranges and reds in fall.

Still… we do have autumn and we do have much to enjoy and celebrate, and this year the season has been especially warm and lovely. Last Tuesday, since he had a day free between projects, and since I wanted to do some research/observation for the writing I’m working on, H. and I set off for a drive into the country, down to the Pembina Hills area, as far south and west as Manitou. The colours in the trees and also ditches were a treat for our eyes and spirits.

Even the ditches put on a show!

After lunch at the Kopper Kettle in Morden, a favourite local eatery it seems, we continued to Neubergthal, a village that is also a Canada heritage site because of the number of Mennonite house-barn structures it still contains. Here we viewed Himmelbleiw, an exhibition of Manitoba Mennonite heritage furniture and floor patterns. (Himmelbleiw is Low German for “heavenly blue, a colour used to paint walls and decorate furniture that expresses joy and hope.” – Catalogue)

We enjoyed seeing the cupboards, tables, cradles, clocks, toys, and floor patterns on display in the Friesen Housebarn Interpretative Centre. Nearly every item would have been useful in some way, but aesthetic appeal and satisfaction — through skill of construction, decorative detail, or colour — was added to functionality  as well. I was especially taken by the floor patterns. From the late 1800s to the mid 1900s many Mennonite women painted the floors of their homes. (Note the samples in the catalogue page below.)

The Mennonites lived simply. Ostentation was not a community value. Nevertheless, they took opportunities to express artistry within the parameters of their lives.

It all made me think of Steve Bell’s yearning rendition of the Jim Croegaert song, “Why do we hunger for beauty?” It’s a rhetorical question. We love to look at “the leaves,” here today and gone tomorrow, and we paint chairs and floors, which will be worn by sitting and walking. We do hunger for beauty, so we seek it and create it.

One thought on “A hunger for beauty

  1. I enjoyed that beautiful ditch! Yes, we hunger for beauty, elusive as it is. I have always liked that song of Jim C. I think it is what makes us human as much as anything.

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