She writes of seeing a "whole flock of robins". I've not seen a flock, but the robins have definitely come. This year they showed up earlier than ever before. We heard them on February 21, and saw them two days later. That month was very warm, but even when the snow came again and the temperature dropped, we would occasionally hear them. Now they are singing and bobbing all day long.
I wonder if any of you live in an old house with old-fashioned storm windows. We had them for many years after we moved here, but have now replaced them with double-paned, insulated windows. We don't have to do anything except take the screens off in winter, an incredibly easy process compared to what we used to do. Gladys writes about those old windows.
At last the storm windows are off. I usually begin thinking about taking them off the first nice warm day in February. But the more sane members of the family point out that in New England there are blizzards even in March, and the old glass in the little-paned windows may be beautiful, but doesn't keep out the wind very well.
Last fall when the windows went on, they had been freshly painted and all the identifying numbers painted over. Every window in the house is a different size, but not different enough for the naked eye to measure. So, on a day when it was below zero, one of those sudden drops to remind us of winter, Jill and George and I ran round and round the house with windows, none of which ever fitted anywhere. It was like one of those maddening puzzles enlarged to life size. I dare say most families don't have difficulties like this. Further, the windows hook inside as well as out, and all the inner hooks are at differing levels. This involves someone's running in and out of the house and rabbiting around and back, hooking and unhooking again.
But now it's spring again, and the storm windows are a problem of the past. I must remember this year to have them all numbered.We have a shed kind of room that still has one of these storms so I can show you, if you've never heard of such a thing!
Gladys writes about a subject I thought was new thinking.
And then, one clear morning, George comes in with a smile to say, "I'll plow the garden today; I'm doing the upper meadow anyhow. Ground's all right."
We stop whatever we are doing and rush outside to watch the great plow ride along, turning the rich soil. It is a tie between us and our forefathers; it is something we inherit from the land itself. It is always new and always old. The blades of the plow are silver in the sun as the earth breaks from the sterile grasp of winter and folds back. ...
We have been all over Mr. Faulkner's book about not plowing, and Mr. Bromfield's and Mr. Ed Robinson's too. Jill is a fiend for Keeping Up with Modern Trends. And I fear it is really due to my romantic feelings that we go on in the old-fashioned way, plowing the garden. But I point out to the family that we have crops out of this world, anyway; carrots a foot long and tender as butter, elegant crisp celery, rich tight lettuce. So why not go on plowing?There has been a lot written in the past few years about not tilling, not plowing gardens. That it isn't good for the soil to tear it all up like that. That's one of the reasons for so many raised beds everywhere. You don't have to till them. Well, we did go to raised beds for a few years, and I had many pictures of them on the blog, and now we've gone back to a regular garden. For two years we've tried cultivating it with various tools, but when we had a rainy spring last year the weeds took over. We couldn't keep up with them, and I was very discouraged. Years ago we had a heavy tiller. It was a big thing that I couldn't use, but it did a terrific job of cleaning up the garden and tilling in the manure in the fall.
1982. Tom tilling first garden at Windy Poplars Farm.
After a lot of thought, this year we bought a Mantis. It is much smaller and easier to use.
It should be just right for our little patio vegetable garden. I'll keep you informed as the season goes on.
When we first bought this old house, there was a storage area in the cellar. It hadn't been used in 25 years, since the mother and daughter who lived here began moving to an apartment in town for the winter. It was, to use Gladys' word "romantic". Just being there made me think of growing a year's supply of food and having a cellar full of potatoes and carrots. It was, however, decrepit and not worth trying to fix up. Also, all that food would draw mice, or worse. But I still feel a yearning when I read of root cellars.
The cellar at Stillmeadow is very romantic and pleasing, and entirely impractical. But I like to look at the heavy, hand-hewn beams and the great stones of the the fourteen-foot-square chimney, and the old rough wall stones as I work at clearing out and rearranging the fruit shelves, even if I sometimes wish I had enough shelves and cupboard space to keep the place neat and tidy.One of the many blog posts I have had in my head is about the stones in our cellar. They must have been pulled out of the fields in the 1800s, by what? Oxen, probably, or very big draft horses. How I would love to time travel and see that happening. Because this may indeed be my stones posting, I'll show you what they look like.
You can see in the first picture one of the house supports, a vertical log with the bark still on it. We don't have many of these left, but there are still a few in the ceiling.
They used what was around - the trees in the woods and the stones in the fields.
Forty some years ago, there was a lot of press about old farmhouses, and country living in general. I loved being part of that lifestyle, and I still do love it, though you sure don't read much about it anymore. Once in a while, I see an article about a young couple going off to live in the country, and I hope the movement becomes popular again.
Gladys talks about the importance of nature in such a moving way. Her words are just as meaningful today, and I will close this month's report with her dream. "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
I had a strange wish yesterday. I wish the men who are going to form the peace for the world would all have to come to this spot, and jump across the free-running brook where the sand lies golden under the amber water, and climb this little obscure country hill and just stand awhile on the violet-covered slope. I would ask them not to say any fine brave words about peace and the new world, nor to make those glittering promises I hear over the radio from them all, that have no real bones under the oratory.
None of them, for a little time, would be politicians or dictators, or world rulers. I would ask them to smell the quiet air and listen to the tranquil country sounds; the dog after a rabbit, the first birds pricking the stillness with sweet voices, the thunder of a horse in his stall at the next farm, the bark of a fox near Kettletown.
I would ask them to remember when they were children and believed in life. Power and expansion and new territories and national glory would mean nothing at all. They would be just a group of middle-aged men.