For more information on this yearlong reading adventure, please go to the first post.
As I began my reading, the honeysuckle off the porch was in full bloom and the locust flowers were just coming out. My porch swing offered a little nook in the midst of all this beauty. And as the month ended, the pink mallow is everywhere and the daylilies are just beginning to open. June is a month when so much happens outdoors. I've read only two books this month and I'm way behind in reading blogs that I love. Quite often I catch myself just staring at the beauty around me. Every day there is something new, something a little different in the flower and vegetable gardens.
Gladys' June chapter contains 25 pages and Rachel's, 30. Amazingly, they each begin with observations on the month's sounds . Gladys Taber tells us that 'this is the singing month.' And she goes on to say how it sings in color - the 'green countryside,' the pink, white, and red of the 'rambler roses,' and the 'deep tranquil blue' of the sky. Though the metaphor may be mixed, it makes perfect sense to me. Rachel Peden writes of the frogs.
At night now their chant is slow, steady, expressing contentment. It goes in the balanced rhythm you hear when a cow is being milked by experienced hands - one-two, one-two, straight into the bucket...'These two women were much of an age - Gladys was born in 1899, and Rachel in 1901. Stillmeadow Daybook was published in 1955 and Rural Free six years later. Though Gladys Taber and her friend Jill live on forty acres in what was then quite rural Connecticut, they do not make their livelihoods from farming, while Rachel Peden's husband, Richard is a farmer raising cattle and hogs. In this June installment, Gladys' topics run the gamut from raising dogs to old houses, and books to world affairs. She has entertained the head of The Netherlands House of Representatives, and communicates with Ted Key, the creator of the Hazel cartoons.
Rachel Peden's June essays are all about the farm and nature, with musings on life along the way. There is a gentle humor which reminded me of E.B. White. She writes of milkweed, wild iris, finding a lost calf, and trying to pick the cherries before the birds get them.
When I went back the next day, the tree had been cleaned utterly. Not one cherry remained, either green, ripe, wormy, or bitten. It was a fine example of co-operative bird effort. But henceforth when somebody speaks of "eating like a bird," I want it explained what the bird is eating. A bird eating cherries eats like a glutton.They each make mention of food. When Gladys muses about why a cowbird lays her eggs in other bird's nests,
I always end my thinking in confusion and decide to make a cheese soufflé for supper, as I understand that very well.She notes 'we eat most of our meals outdoors now.' Rachel makes sour cream cookies, and writes of 'a picnic supper up in the north pasture.'
I'm kind of an anachronism, living my life in some ways as it was lived fifty or more years ago. As I read their June entries, I was filled with a kind of love for these two women. I don't have real-life models of countrywomen, and Gladys Taber and Rachel Peden offer this gift to me through their writings.