Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Four Seasons with Susan Hill and Gladys Taber - Gladys' spring

Gladys has a nice thing to say about March the month when spring begins in our part of the world.
As I write, sleet, mixed with snow and rain, beats against the window. But when I open the door and look out, I smell the clean, sweet air, and I hear the brook running down the hill, and I feel spring in my heart. March is a special gift from nature to restore and nourish the land, and without it roses would never bloom so beautifully in June. 
We've had a cloudy, rainy, cool spring with a few days of warmth and bright sunshine. Most people have complained, but for me it was the perfect weather for the flowers. Yes, things have been slow in coming, but the daffodils lasted over a month. I've never seen so many blooms on the crabapple and they didn't fade for ages. Every single tree and flower has looked spectacular. I hope to do a picture posting of all the beauty.

In the 1970s, Southbury Connecticut has changed from Gladys' earlier writings from the 1930s and 40s and 50s. It made me sad to read
Southbury is no longer a quiet country village as it was, and those of us who watch the death of a rural area feel heartbreak. The deep woods crash, marshes are flooded, sweet-running trout streams polluted. Factories encroach. Chain stores plan to move in. A turnpike slices the wild-flower meadows.
Sometimes I think progress is man's greatest enemy. But I am thankful my own woods and swamps and streams are still safe, and nobody at the moment can drain my pond and build a development there. It belongs to the wildlife and the children.
I suppose all of us who grow older in a place we've lived in a long time see changes, and think about the future of our own land. I feel very lucky because our children love this place, and indeed Margaret and her family live on acres that used to be part of it. I can't imagine them ever tearing down the house or subdividing the land. It is part of them, it is "home" to them and to their children.

It warms my heart that one of Gladys' grandchildren writes often in the Friends of Gladys Taber publication about Stillmeadow. It really seems much the same as when she lived there. She would be so very pleased.

And Southbury itself still looks very lovely in some of the pictures shown on the web page, though I'm sure much bigger and busier.

Gladys has a many page diversion from nature and spring to talk about the census. It is quite shocking to read!
The folder said, "Why Your Family?'
Well, it seems I was chosen as one of 17,000 out of 63 million to be investigated by the Census Bureau. It's strictly confidential, I was assured, for the census bureau is airtight against snoopers
... As a writer, I have been interviewed for years by reporters, radio MCs, and various clubwomen, and I have never objected, feeling that I have no secret life. ... But suddenly I began to wonder, and I did not want to fill out all those pages [30 or 40 of them!] about my way of living. We live in a climate of fear nowadays, second only to Communist countries. Newsmen go to jail rather than divulge the source of their special information. Houses are wired, telephones tapped, and the FBI has files on millions of names, innocent or not. The Watergate incident came to my mind. ... 
Then we got to page one. Now the information wanted by the bureau is about clothing and linens, auto expenses and repairs, trips and vacations, utilities, fuels, household help, repairs to appliances, TVs, etc., home repairs and improvements, insurance, and a few other items. 
This is really personal stuff! I was shocked that the Bureau could request (well, it really wasn't a request, was it?) to know all this. It got me wondering if they still do this. I know there is news now about a government "request" to know if a household includes anyone who is not a citizen of this country. But do they also go in for all the minutiae of lives?

Poor Gladys. 74 years old and being asked all these things!
An hour and a half later I needed an ice pack on my head. Unfortunately, I did not know how old my toaster was, when I had last bought sheets and pillowcases, how old my car was (this never came out right since I bought the last one of a model the week before the new ones appeared). I had no records of when I bought my TV set (but it was black-and-white, which she wrote down). I remembered that my electric range was a little over a year old (just old enough so the warranty had run out when the timer blew).
Trips and vacations drew a blank, as I never take them. I confessed that I have only one typewriter, non-electric. And no humidifiers. I forgot my one old electric fan. I had not bought any new clothes or rented any. And I did not know how much I had spent on food. No hospital expenses. I said I needed a new sofa because the springs were sagging in mine but I did not remember when I bought it or when it was re-covered. ...
Books are evidently of no interest to the Census Bureau, and I must have several hundred at least, overflowing the bookshelves and stacked in piles in closets. Never mind. I had not bought a new coat this year. Or new shoes.
The census woman was to come back twice more, and in the meantime Gladys was supposed to fill out more pages.
I began to wonder how much 17,000 of these elegant portfolios, complete with pad and pencil and glassy pockets, must cost our rich government and how much this investigation cost and how far that money would go for food for the poverty areas.
And then she ends with some rather chilling words.
I do know in this age we are not expected to have or want any privacy, but I wonder if it isn't time for a change before we all become statistics fed into a computer?
I find this whole project more and more disturbing. At what point can a citizen of our great country have any privacy? Are we by any chance tending toward an era when the government will regulate our whole lives? I wonder if I were to say, "I do not wish to be in the census, thank you. Try my neighbor down the road" - would I make the FBI files?
I am too docile ever to know.
Gladys then goes on to write of her cats, past and present, and the wild ones who live in the barn. This part was hard for me to read as our Raya died in March. She made her first appearance on the blog here. And there are more pictures under the "Cats and Dogs" label on the sidebar under "Letter Topics". We had her for 18 years. She had been a big cat but in the last years she lost so much weight and by the end was only about 5 pounds. She was the most loving and interesting and difficult of all our cats. She was the greeter when anyone came to visit. She loved people. And she loved the grandchildren from the very beginning. Here she is with 7-month-old Hazel.

As for the difficult part - well, she was unstoppable. She stretched on and under every single chair. If she wanted my attention for some reason, she would just go over and begin stretching. She chewed on every plant. But, my goodness I miss her.

I used to tell her that she had to live until 2019 so I could say that Tom and I had had 50 years of cats, and she did. Tom doesn't want another cat, and I understand his reasons though I do ache for the presence of a kitty. But what I really ache for is my Raya. Gladys Taber would certainly understand.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Most highly recommended podcast!

Do any of you know about Bear Brook, a podcast done by a man named Jason Moon from New Hampshire Public Radio? I added up the minutes, and I think it is about 6 hours long, and I spent my Sunday afternoon and early evening listening to it. I made bread, did dishes and laundry, and made supper during that time, but often I found myself just sitting, riveted by what I was hearing.

This true story is like none other I've ever heard. There are twists and turns, and the unexpected happens often.

The story begins with some boys in the 1980s coming across a metal barrel in the woods near their homes. They don't really look inside, but some months later a hunter does look in and finds the remains of two people.

Moon has done the most remarkable job. He is clear. He explains well who people are in the story. If there is someone mentioned in an earlier episode he reminds us just who that person is. All of this is very helpful because there are a lot of people mentioned.

I expect most people will listen to it an episode at a time, but it just happened to work out that I could "binge-listen" taking time out only to eat supper.

Here is the site. This is not just a NH story. It covers several different places in the country. I so hope you will listen. It is truly amazing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June bug

How do June bugs know when it is June?? They showed up here, out on the porch, on June the first.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fun and kinda great thing I saw on Instagram

I came upon this a while ago, and I thought I'd share it. A younger friend who was a fan of the song was going through a terrible divorce, and the list is the opposite of what her husband did.

And here is the video.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Quote du jour/Charles Dudley Warner

Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.
It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.
Charles Dudley Warner

Aren't these words familiar to all home gardeners? We dream (and "hoe") in the spring. Even if the garden does "not turn out well", by then we are already dreaming of next year's garden.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats, and sung by The Waterboys

I was listening to an old album by The Waterboys, and was so taken with the last song. It is The Stolen Child by Yeats put to music by one of the members, Mike Scott, and narrated by Tomás McKeown. It is so very beautiful.

I found it on youtube in a video illustrated with pictures of old Ireland. You may watch and listen here. Addendum: I just saw that you can't watch it on the blog, but must click the watch it on youtube button. Sorry for the extra step.

The faerys [sic] are luring a child to go away with them. They present their home as a beautiful place "where flapping herons wake the drowsy water rats." This is a place of dancing and joy "while the world is full of troubles and anxious in its sleep." And that last line of each verse is a killer - "for the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."  The last verse tells of the good the child will be giving up to avoid the inevitable sadness in real life.

Oh, Yeats! A wonderful poem, and I do love the musical version and narration.

The Stolen Child

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.