When the flood waters of the 2011 Mouse River rose up on University Avenue in Minot, there was no time for Joyce Burke Kohls and Vivian Burke Helm to empty out the twin ivory corner china cabinets of their late mother, Audrey Burke.
Their family china was witness to the non-pentatonic melodies of water that entered this cozy, stucco two-story home at 519-9th Ave. NW. Like a ship taking on water with no one to bail, the murky, brown laden waters of the Mouse River began to fill this family home.
In the dark of the night, water poured in like a faucet that was left open and didn't stop until reaching beyond four feet on the main level. It was with great sadness we viewed this home completely surrounded by adulterated water.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
Joyce and Vivian were not able to return to their home for several weeks. Upon the receding of the flood waters, they entered their home to find everything in a state of ruin including the twin old-fashioned corner china cupboards with glass panes and salmon-colored interiors. The rich, peach salmon background was perfect for setting off the classic, elegant ivory and white fine china embellished substantially in gold scrolls and stars.
It was clearly a case that the right hue can make a difference, and this shade of warm and cordial salmon uplifted and transformed this well-dressed china. You could not enter her dining room and not be impressed with their charisma. One glance at this set of dishes and you promptly knew they were pocketed deep in the past. With a little effort, you could imagine the joys relinquished from them set at a family dinner.
They were blessed that the china, which came from their Grandma and was passed on to their mother, had survived the flood waters safely tucked in these corner cupboards. They were quick to pack and remove this lovely china to a safe place. Joyce and Vivian have decided to return to their home. Currently, the home is in the process of getting Sheetrock hung. They will, at some point, move in and once again settle their mother's treasured china around the family table.
The house at 519-9th Ave. NW. has been the home to many. When I finished college, I rented the quaint upstairs apartment and came to know the fine friendship of Audrey. In our conversation, I came to discover that Audrey had been one of the approved houses for girls who were attending Minot State. At one time, she had as many as 16 girls staying in her home, and it worked.
When Jan started teaching at Minot State University someone above was watching out for us. One day, out of the blue, Joyce called and asked if we would want to rent the upstairs apartment again. It was an instant "yes!" We had the chance to reconnect with Audrey and her family and also to introduce them to Lydia. It was a time that we shall always treasure. We had moved from this apartment shortly before the flood, but still reflected upon it as our Minot home.
For the five years I have chaired the Rugby Lions Club Tables Envisioned. Tables Envisioned consists of a collection of 25 tabletops that are artistically arranged. For a couple of days folks are invited to pay an admission fee to see the unique and creative tabletops. Funds raised have always been donated between a Lions vision project such as the Lions Eye Bank of North Dakota, Inc. and a community project in Rugby. In the past years we have donated money to the Heart of America Library in Rugby. This year we are working to establish a fund to replace the fountain at Ellery Park. The show involves much footwork and details; however, it has become joy to organize. Community members have been very generous in sharing their treasures, and it is always a delight to see what they take from their cupboards.
Our Rugby Lions Club Tables Envisioned was esteemed to have the beautiful set of Sone china pattern number 97 from the generous hands of Joyce and Vivian. They both attended the show, and were delighted, as well as appreciative, that these dishes were saved from the ravages of the Mouse River. They stood in reflection of the table and shared how proud and grateful their mother would have been to have seen her family china showcased.
In the many years that I knew Audrey Burke she was a generous and caring lady. She was also a lady of warm style and always willing to say, "Would you like a cup of tea?" I had the enjoyment of sipping tea from her Sone China. Once their home is back in order, Joyce and Vivian invited us for dinner served on their mother's china. It made me smile, and I know it also had their mother smiling. For many it will not be possible to go back to the evergreen peace they had in rooms in their homes before the flood. For Joyce and Vivian, however, the resetting of their dining room table with their heirloom china will be a piety of wonder. Now that is a truly a "table to envision."
Here is a notion take the time to brew yourself a fine cup of tea and serve it out of your best china. It is a memory that will hang with your like stardust and always be of comfort. Is it not true that teatime brings a sense of balance when days can be so hurried?
Even though our winter has been mild, a warm cup of cheer can bring a glow to your day. I share with you a few recipes for hot drinks that we enjoy.
Make 6 servings (about 7 ounces each)
3 to 4 mint tea bags
4 cups boiling water
3/4 cup green creme de menthe
6 mint sprigs
6 mint candy canes (if available)
Steep tea bags in boiling water 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Stir in liqueur. Serve in mugs. Garnish each with a mint sprig and a candy cane. You may select to use non-alcoholic creme de menthe syrup.
This is very good served with sugar cookies. Serves 6.
1/4 cup white sugar plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat sugar, water, chocolate and salt in medium-sized saucepan
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 cups strong hot coffee
Stir frequently over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in milk and whipping cream. Heat until hot. Add coffee and beat until foamy. Stir in vanilla. Serve in mugs.