Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Iris—A Poor Man’s Orchid


Noticing an arrangement of irises in the Abbey recreation room, one of my confreres commented about how irises were quite popular in the depression years, when people could not spend much money on flowers. He explained that irises were actually called a poor man’s orchid.

Every since I heard this little comment, I have thought about how appropriate that was in regard to what we have been trying to do here at Mount Michael for the past several years. And that would be the endeavor of the Journey’s End barn, Farmer’s and Flea Markets.

Rather than trucking everything away in a dumpster (old furniture or items that we no longer needed), we try to take things to the barn and recycle them in the Flea Market.
For example, when we took down the Priory Building that housed us for so many years, we saved much of the furniture, especially chest-of-drawers and put them in the Flea Market. And of course, many people notice that we do such things and give us items that they no longer need as well. We also had a rather extensive record collection, which of course has become obsolete. But rather than throwing it away, we put it in the Flea Market.

In the hayloft of the barn, one can find a secret garden of sorts. Over the years I have dried lots of flowers and grasses from the garden. And each year I add to the collection of flowers in this secret garden. Br. Jerome has helped with his artistic ability in making some unique arrangements and continuing the principle of making something from nothing so to speak.

The garden also produces much that can be used for the Farmer’s Market. Two items that are quite popular are rhubarb/strawberry jam and kosher dill pickles. Although the cucumbers are not ready yet, the rhubarb is producing in abundance and jellies and jams are being made for the Farmer’s Market.

I have not discovered how to dry the poor man’s orchid (the iris) yet, but we are certainly trying to make use of some of the items and products we have to help the cause of Mount Michael and our mission.

This is also a bit of explanation of how my time has been spent the last few weeks and will continue to occupy me in the coming growing season of the summer and fall of 2009.

I also thought that I would include an appeal letter that has gone out to the public over the past several years. Perhaps there might be someone out there who might be interested in helping us at Mount Michael produce orchids for poor people. Iris Photos




Dear Friends of Mount Michael.

Again we turn another cycle of life and have come to another growing season at Mount Michael. Indeed, it is nice to hear that people appreciate the effort and time that we put into trying to make the grounds of Mount Michael a pleasant and peaceful place. Nonetheless, creating a pleasant and peaceful place does not just happen. It does take energy and help, even financial help. And the same is true of growth in monastic life. It, too, takes energy, time and help – even financial help.

If you have followed the monastic website of late, you will find that the two Mount Michael monks (Br. Gregory Congote & Br. August Schafer) who are studying theology at St. John’s Abbey at Collegeville, Minnesota, are doing quite well. Both have shown growth in their education and are progressing on the road to priestly ordination. We are also happy to mention in this growing season letter that we have a new postulant, Chris Moses. He will be entering the novitiate during this growing season. Br. Benedict Mary also made his final vows in late May. So we have another monk who joins the ranks of permanent membership of Mount Michael. Your continued help in this matter assures us that we can give quality training and education to monks of Mount Michael and provide a pleasant and peaceful place for new members.

Most of you are probably aware that Mount Michael was hit rather hard by the storm of June 27th of last growing season. It caused damage to not only the roof of the abbey building, but also caused lots of damage to lots of trees. We even lost huge fir trees. We have had to have some professional trimming done because of the lack of equipment or man power to clean the mess and care for the trees. And we are always losing Scotch Pines to the Scotch Pine Disease. It is costly to remove these trees. Your help in this matter helps us to keep the grounds pleasant and peaceful.

Lastly, we do continue to recycle at the Journey’s End Farm. The Flea and Farmer’s Market will continue in the barn that we continue to renovate. It still needs more work and we would also like to build an addition to it on the south side. Continually, we get people who are willing to donate to our cause of “fleas” and recycling. Your help in this regard only helps us to continue to provide a pleasant and peaceful place to do this.

Please also realize that you help us by your prayers. We appreciate all that you do for us!

God’s blessings to you always,


Fr. John Hagemann OSB—Gardener and Grounds Keeper/Vocation Director

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