Sanctus libri legumen seputus
(Sacred book of the bean)

A short history of bean-making on Dawson Island

It is a tradition born of simple beginnings.  One fella offering a new recipe, another suggesting a twist on an old standard.  Guy suggested the beans, Rob proposed the pit cooking.  Done.  Or so they thought, leading to the much awaited weekend following the first full moon (or thereabouts).  Guy’s store of beans had waited far too long to be soaked.  Hard as little pebbles they were, and not inclined to swell or soften in water.  Unawares to this novice beanmaker, his poorly prepared pots would further drag him into beanmaking hell.  And Rob, for his part, had this notion of “pit cooking” a good idea, but one needing refinement that only comes through experience.  Between them, Guy and Rob would unwittingly subject the men of the Log-in to a frightful night of experimentation, culminating in a woeful curse that would not be lifted until the second attempt a year later.  A deeper hole, a stone slab, softened beans, and a secure lid would help bring redemption.  And there was the benediction.  Mystical incantation is a dangerous force from the lips of a neophyte.  A second attempt, from a contrite and humble heart, helped free the men of the Log-In, and elevated Guy to the status of Beanmaker (with a capital ‘B’).  He was a hero, the beans more than edible.  Now, the dark chapter is part of Dawson Island lore, and enriches the tradition of that September weekend following the first full moon (or thereabouts).

A pot seasoned with mystic oil,
Water from an ancient spring,
Beans picked by Italian monks,
Where the bells of Saint Flatus ring.

A kitchen blessed by northern winds,
That blow through the season’s end,
The tools of battle all laid down,
Weary spirits ready to mend,

A hole covered with the heavy slab,
That has waited for nigh on a year,
For the coming of the Beanmaker,
With his pots, benediction, and beer


Four cord of maple, oak and beech,
Hardwood stacked and split,
Shall fuel the sacred embers,
To lay in that holy pit,

The slab, the slab, grey as ash,
Is the burden thou shalt bear,
Thou shalt lift it for the Beanmaker,
To perform his wonders there,

Do not fear the approaching hour,
Though you tremble to the bone,
The winds of autumn shall give thee strength, to lift that slab of stone!

Preparation for the annual rite

The arrival of the Beanmaker on Dawson Island is greeted with anticipation.  Much preparation is made for his coming, and all partake in the tasks with a spirit of merriment.

The Beanmaker cometh!
The Beanmaker cometh!
Prepare the way for him.
Season the pots, build the fire,
Rehearse the leguminous hymn.
Sprinkle his path with golden leaves
Of Balm of Gilead,
Break open the casks of amber ale,
Let thy hearts be glad!
Peel the spuds, slice the onions,
Wipe away thy tears,
His arrival signals a joyous time,
That comes but once a year!

Lonely slab, cold as night
Grey as ancient bone,
Heavy upon the sacred ground,
Of this, thy only home.

Through icy days of winter,
And thrash of April rain,
You protect your charge with dignity,
You neither whine nor complain.

As summer skies turn cold,
Crimson strokes the maple tree,
The day fast approaches,
When glory shall shine on thee.


Humble in thy solemn sentry,
Wondering what thy purpose means,
Thy labours shall be rewarded,
With the aroma of baking beans.

So prepare thyself for the honour,
That thy station so demands,
When from the ground you are lifted,

Rise at the Beanmaker’s command!

Midnight Gathering

While the night on Dawson Island is filled with much celebration, there is a time after the last stroke of midnight when all assemble for the ceremony.  With somber hearts, the men remember the night of the first failed benediction that stirred malevolent spirits. 

Awake! Awake!
The time is at hand,
Approach not fire alone,
Join the men of the Log-In
And watch Rob reach to lift the stone.

Drop the cards, put down the ale,
Leave the dice upon the table,
Bow your heads this September night,
To honour the Beanmaking fable.

It may seem odd and bizarre,
This nocturnal benediction,
But it’s part of the lore of the Log-in,
One part ceremony, ten parts fiction.

Lest we not forget the night of peril,
When the hex was placed on our heads,
Tonight we come with humble hearts,
That we might sleep soundly in our beds.

The First Benediction (2007)

It was during the reading of these very lines that two iron pans of beans were placed in a shallow pit, covered with a thin layer of cool embers, and subsequently buried under three generous shovels of Dawson Island dirt.  To add to the insult, the resulting mound was struck thrice with blunt force from the backside of the shovel.  Note: these lines are provided for purposes of historical documentation.  Under no circumstances should they be said during the bean ceremony!

These iron vessels, forged by the hands of men,
Shall hold secure tomorrow’s sustenance,
Through the very depths of night…

These men, gathered in merriment and mirth,
Joined by the valour of a season’s victory,
Wherein foes were smote on the field of play,

And this night, still bearing scars of those valliant battles,
These men gather to enjoy friendly games of chance,
And abundant food and drink

Oh skies of autumn, in your vast enveloping darkness,
Breathe gently upon these glowing coals,
That they might be sustained through even the coldest hours,

Infuse these humble pots with the powers of your great masses of air,
Keep at bay the dread curses of blackness,
That seep from the orifices of the underworld

And while these men slumber,  
Neither may they be vexed by banshee winds,
Nor tormented by asphyxiating clouds that assail the dream world,

Oh northern spirits of the celestial realm,
Watch over the poor camp bitch whoever she, he might be,
That she might sleep soundly, unperturbed by the curse of the gruesome pots.

(as it happended, the bitch did not sleep soundly and a cursed cloud descended upon the beans and all who had attended that fateful first ceremony)

The Curse of the Buried Beans

An account of the wicked night and subsequent deliverance from damnation.  This verse shall stand for time immemorial as a warning to those who would make careless preparations, dig shallow pits, and blithely chant a benediction in ignorance of powers that wait to be aroused.

When leaves hustle like feet across the field of play,
Darkness ends the game on a late summer day,
The guy’s talk of serious matters, lacing cleats on ground cool and damp,
Talk of the Friday after the first full moon, to gather at Rob’s camp

Who will arrive when, what to drink and eat,
Who’ll help get the groceries, who will supply the meat?
Rob and Ken led the planning; it was going without a hitch,
They’d gathered all the provisions, and they’d appointed the camp bitch

And me, I offered a new idea, a new tradition I would start,
One that would make them laugh and shout, one that would make them fart,
A pound of beans, soaked and boiled, not a detail did I overlook,
The two cord of hardwood and the covered pot in which the beans would cook

Someone had the bright idea to cook them through the night
Those beans would rest on a bed of embers glowing hot and white
Ten cord of hardwood split and dry, that’s what we needed for sure,
And I prepared a benediction to keep the beans safe and secure

Things did not go quite as planned, the firewood was soft and tacky,
The benediction came across kind of weird like something kind of whacky,
Maybe the ground was too cold, maybe the hole too deep,
But something went dreadfully wrong that night when the boys were fast asleep

In bed I tossed like the troubled sea, my stomach hot and sour,
My brain visited ghostly places, strange sounds filled each hour,
A vision of Rob in a makeshift barge, carrying an oven, a fridge and a door,
Seasick passengers clinging to life, Rob yelling, “throw me that oar!”

Too late to be saved, the barge went down, they’d rolled a pair of losing dice,
At the bottom of the lake, they continued their game, though the water was cold as ice,
They made the door into a table, filled the old fridge full of beer,
They continued to play their game, as they joined in a mournful cheer:

“O the days are cold, our youth is lost
Our fridge will be empty, the coin is tossed,
We’re condemned to this game, what could be worse,
Condemned for life by the Buried Bean Curse.”
I awoke with sweat in my shorts and socks, the air heavy from the night now passed,
I wanted to forget my nightmare; I wanted to break my fast,
We ate of the omelet from the giant pan; we ate the scraps of meat,
But when Rob grabbed the shovel and strode to the fire, I felt a sickening wave of defeat
Rob looked so keen, so eager, as he hoisted that iron pot,
In the air was anticipation, but in my gut a wretched knot,
There was no sweet aroma, of bay leaf, parsley, or thyme,
The lid was stuck shut in a blackened mass, molasses hardened to gritty grime

“Perhaps there is a crust on top” said Rob, “we just have to stir it a bit,”
But when he placed his spoon in the pot, he thought to himself, “oh s**t,”
He knew something had surely corrupted the beans, yet he didn’t want my feelings hurt,
He dipped his spoon and discovered the taste of Dawson Island dirt

With a sudden crash of thunder the skies turned black and foul,
And in a putrid vent of festering gas, there appeared a one-eyed owl,
His voice was more than an omen, indeed it was something worse,
He screeched with sound that could raise the dead, and summon the Buried Bean Curse

The boys trembled with fear they ran for cover, they hid behind the sauna,
In the fiery panic those dreadful moments brought forth some serious trauma,
“Leave them alone, it’s me you want”, I cried in a lamentation,
“It was me who gave those foolish words in my midnight incantation.”

“Yes, you fool” the owl he cried, “you and your ridiculous benediction,
You’ve fancy yourself a poet, what a stupid load of fiction.
Those sorry beans to their sooty grave your words they did condemn,
Now from certain doom it is up to you – only you can save those men.

In a pungent cloud of gas, the owl vanished like an apparition,
And left me with the burden of my desperate salvage mission,
Only I could spare the guys from a fate grim and perverse,
It was up to me to save this place from the dreadful Buried Bean Curse

So now I offer this humble pot, the product of earnest toil,
And to ensure its contents stay pure, I have secured it with heavy foil,
And what’er the morning brings, be our fortune foul or fair,
Know that I have done my very best to prepare this pot with care,

For while you sleep like innocent pups in the comfort of your lair,
I will roam this island like the passing night, you need not despair,
With the sound of the piper, rising from the misty lake,
Those beans will simmer soundly and on their bed of embers bake,
You may wonder now why I say these words, wonder what this poem means,
I tell you I say it to free this island from the curse of the buried beans.

The New Benediction (2009)

The following intercession, not to be said before the last stroke of midnight, shall properly bless the beans and keep sour winds at bay, bringing peace to the men of the Log-in throughout the cold of night.

At the lifting of the Great Stone, the Stonelifter shall say:

“Bless thee sacred stone, for thy faithful service.  Arise to reveal the holy pit!”

On the lifting of the Great Stone the Beanmaker shall say:

“Behold the holy pit, ready for its precious pot”

The Shovelmaster shall then commence to adding glowing embers to the pit.  All the assembled shall say:

“Take these embers through the depth of night; take these embers to the morning light”

The Shovelmaster shall complete the burying of the beans, during which the Beanmaker shall say:

“Sanctus legumen seputus”

The Stonelifter shall gently lower the Great Stone while saying:

“Protect thy sacred charge from cursed winds”

The Beanmaker shall offer his final benediction:

“Batus illa sanctus legumen, non flattus s’il vous plait”

All the assembled shall repeat:

“Non flattus s’il vous plait”