by Bruce Menzies

At our cottage on Menzies Mountain we are preparing for changes in the weather—topping off the wood pile and winterizing everything from garden hoses to machinery. Although our cottage is wonderfully shaded in the summer by large oak trees, every single oak leaf will soon “drift by my window” (as the song goes) and their removal is no small task.

Personally I enjoy these colder days of gray skies and the hazy shades of winter. Knowing that I’ve done what I ought to be ready for the cold, winter will be days of contentment. On the worse days, days of cold rain, I can stay indoors with the fire going and leave the woods to the storms. There’s nothing quite like sitting in front of a strong fire with maybe the perfect pet in your lap, a good 600-page book, and a cup of something hot to drink. I know people who think that’s not enough.

I have written about this place before, but for nearly thirty years my family has enjoyed our country cottage here in Christian County. It was one of our children who appropriately named it Menzies Mountain. (It’s not so much that we’re on a mountain, it’s just those around us live in a valley.) The cottage is small by city standards but we think of it as cozy.

Menzies Mountain has no phone service, cable television, or Internet. Sure we have our cell phone to make and receive calls, however, you don’t come to Menzies Mountain to get wired. Emphasis on Menzies Mountain is on downtime, cooking, reading, writing, spiritual renewal, being outside, and such. Here, we’re neither part of the Rat Pack or the rat race. (The only race in these parts is to Gateway Café in Spokane, on Friday nights to avoid hand-to-hand combat for table space with the likes of Branson celebrities, ranchers, lawmen, and walnut loggers emerging from the deep woods to load down on a high calorie platter of fried catfish, ’tators, beans and cornbread, all of which merely precedes the main event—generous portions of delicious homemade desserts.)

After dark, in my big chair positioned near the fireplace, I can watch headlights on a distant highway, as nighthawks snake their way down the big hill leaving Nixa for destinations south and listen to the murmuring of the fire, at peace with God, myself, and the world.

• • •

This issue’s book review is of Andy Williams’ bio­graphy. (Another book from my library.) A review by John V. of the UK is included. The book is only about 300 pages so it’s an easy read and if you were ever interested in Andy Williams as perform­er, husband, father, brother, restaurateur, or art aficionado, you’ll enjoy this book.

Andy Williams was known by many names but ultimately as “Mr. Moon River.” After recording that song in 1962, and performing it at the Academy Awards the same year, the song sort of became Andy’s signature song. So much so, Andy sang the first eight bars of “Moon River” at the beginning of each episode of his television program. On May 1, 1992, Andy opened the Moon River Theater in Branson with much fanfare including composer Henry Mancini as guest. (Sorry I missed that one.) On page 5 we pay ­tribute the croon­er who at one time had more gold albums than any solo performer except Frank, Elvis,
and Johnny (Mathis).

• • •

Added to the loss of life and real estate this fall by fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes, I have seen many victims on the news talk about losing precious photos and other documents. As a result, I have been uploading my photos to the Cloud (Internet). The original photo may get lost but a digital copy will be safe and easily downloaded, printed, and framed.

• • •

Again, thinking of those disasters, it’s understandable that folks are anxious about the future. Recently someone on the radio suggested we try and stay in the “present.” By that he meant not to fret about the things we have no control over. Try not to worry too much about the future since that’s not clearly seen. Stay in the present.

Jesus gave us that same idea a couple of thousand years ago when he said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NCV). That’s what I’m trying to do. And like Leonard Cohen said in his famous song, “even if things go wrong / I’ll stand before the Lord of Song / with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.”

—God bless, Bruce Menzies

View from Menzies Mountain