Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Natirar’

The name Lawrence Pitzer came up on one of our earlier walks.  Lawrence was the father of Dad’s classmate.  Dad mentioned that Lawrence was the National Corn Husking Champion.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

On our way to Natirar we stopped and bought wraps for our picnic.  Dad appeared to be disoriented, both in the car and in the deli.  He surprised me with his rapid choice of wrap.  “I’ll have a Veggie Wrap”, he declared.  Usually has meat.

Tracking down sounds

The sounds of children and cars parking next to the picnic area distracted Dad in a way I haven’t noticed before.  Fortunately, the disorientation and distractions didn’t detract from his appetite.  During lunch I mentioned to Dad that I had been going through a box from the house in Martinsville.  I reminded him that he had told me that his friend’s dad was the National Corn Husking Champion.

“Yup….. Lawrence Spitzer.  He was my classmate’s father.”

“I found the program for the Pitzer Jubilee Banquet in 1939!”

Program for Pitzer Jubilee Banquet, 1939

“Yup …. the invention of the corn picker put an end to those contests.”

And so began a fascinating conversation that brought me back in time when all of the gathering of corn for livestock was done by hand!  The farmers walked the rows picking and shucking simultaneously.  The trick was to watch the weather and make sure the husks would be dry enough to break off and husk (or shuck) in one motion.

The banquet was quite the affair ….

Banquet Program

The menu consisted of tomato juice, fruit juice, combination salad, baked ham, green beans, candied sweet potatoes, hard and soft rolls, butter, coffee, ice cream and cake.  There were musical performances and speeches.  The reception committee numbered thirty: twelve at the door, five at the east aisle (my grandfather was one), six at the west aisle, seven for distinguished guests.

Lawrence Pitzer’s Record

It turns out that Lawrence won many championships between 1932 and 1939.

I googled his name and found the history of the Corn Husking Competitions online.  Lawrence, of course, was mentioned.

Another farm just across the field from NFS hosted the 1932 state corn husking contest, and boasted local farmer Lawrence Pitzer as the winner. He was amongst the five top national finishers in 1935 as they shucked to new world’s records. In 1939, Pitzer won the national contest held in Kansas in a town fittingly named Lawrence.” (from online history of corn husking events)

My grandfather and Owen, the farm hand, shucked corn from dawn to dusk for three weeks straight.  Workers would often come up from Kentucky to help with the shucking.  My grandfather would hire one of them for one dollar a day.  He thought that was a pretty good deal.  He would brag about it to the uncles at the family reunions.

My grandmother cooked enormous meals during shucking time.  It was women’s work to keep plenty of food on the table, three times a day.

“I remember Dad and Owen coming in for dinner with holes in their gloves from shucking corn.”

Eventually all the farmers had corn picking machinery and the contests died out.

After the wraps were gone and the story told it was time to write and draw. I met with the usual resistance.

Pencil to paper

To write a poem

Is the aim

If it doesn’t happen

I’m the one to blame

Putting pencil to paper, —

That alone won’t do it.

Putting the brain in gear

Let’s say —– how do we do it?

Look up to the sky, —

Scan the trees, —

Put pencil to paper casts a shadow

For Chris to sketch, don’t you see?!

We set out on our walk.  Dad’s stamina was low.  We walked the short loop, stopping at every bench and sitting on each bench for a long time.

Resting

Clouds sweep the sky

While breeze airs the armpits

As we sit on the bench —

Chris and I

On to the next bench:

Resting from a walk

Less than 3 minutes in length

More to follow

As we gain gain strength

Cumulus clouds gliding

Slowly cross the sky

Feet throbbing our heartbeats

We lean back with a sigh

Several benches later:

Another short walk

Another short stop

Sitting on a bench

Feeling our hearts throb

The last bench of the day:

Reading the words

I have written before

I find less than remarkable

Surely I could do better!

But at least we are trying

Daughter Chris and I

These hot summer days

Are relished, I say.

08/09/12

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Tra-la, tra-la ….. a spectacular day with Dad!

View from our picnic table

Dad was awake and perky when I arrived this morning.  Within ten minutes we were on our way to Natirar in Far Hills.  The day was sunny with a cool breeze that freshened the air and chased away the humidity.  A quick stop at Country Picnic Deli provided us with a delicious picnic of paninis (Southwest Melt for Dad and Fire Roasted Vegetables for me), a small container of curried chicken because we couldn’t resist, coleslaw and a brownie for dessert.  We forgot to eat the brownie.  I’m eating it now as I write.  Yummm!

On the drive to Natirar I played the Dust Off The Cobwebs game with Dad.  I bombarded him with questions about people, places and things. Had it been a television quiz show he would have been eliminated in the first round.  The poor score did nothing to dampen his spirits or diminish his sense of humor.

“Why do you have a pencil in your pocket, Dad?”

“I guess I’m going to write.  I don’t think I’m going to pick my teeth with it.”

Dad’s hands as he writes his first poem of the day

A Pause in the Woods

A deep blue sky

And a cool, gentle breeze

Are very much enjoyed

While sitting in the shade

At a picnic table, —

With Chris.

She is sketching

As I write.

The sky, deep blue,

Holds a single white cloud

And a noisy single-engine plane, –

As it goes passing by.

The noiseless leaves falling

From the trees overhead

Are ignored as we write, —

This almost totally silent

Wonderful, warm

Fine summer day.

Natirar 5/31/12

Dad as he writes at the picnic table after lunch

We headed up the hill to the path along the river.  I pointed out the strange lighting on the trees. Dad explained the reason for the odd illumination of the trees.

“That’s because the sun’s sending a ray through that hole in the cloud.” He pointed to the cloud directly above us.

The hole in the cloud

We didn’t get very far along the path before we came upon a bench.  Naturally, Dad wanted to stop for a rest.  I handed him his green sketchbook.

“What do we do when we sit on benches, Dad?”

What do we do?

“What do we do

Each time we sit on the bench?”

Was the question put to me

By daughter Chris.

“Write? I asked.

“Right,” she answered.

So here I sit, —

Writing.

the wind futily tries

To turn the page

But I cannot let that happen

I have more to say.

Opportunity abounds

And good health allows

Time to write a word or two

About the things we do.

Like taking walks

On a gorgeous summer day

And parking on a bench

To write what we may.

If only the words could begin to relay

The joys brought to us

This most wonderful day.

Wow…. Dad was on a roll.  While he wrote his poem, I sketched the odd lighting from the hole in the cloud.

Trees and grass lit by rays of sun through the hole in the cloud

We moved on ….. a little way ….. and came upon another bench.

Bench by the side of the stream

In the shade, by the stream

Is a good place to write

Or so it would seem.

Especially, with a silent breeze

And a silent stream passing by

A noiseless, beautiful scene.

And the event is well worth remembering, —

A walk in the woods with daughter Chris

And a pause to sit, and to write a bit.

View from the bench by the stream

Onward ….. past the stream, stopping along the river to pose, repeating the photo on the cover of Walks With Dad.

Reliving a forgotten moment

Dad showed no signs of fatigue.  Perhaps because we stopped every five minutes to sit on a bench.  Rather than circle back to the car, we took a left at the fork and climbed the hill to the upper meadow.  Half-way up the hill we rested on another bench.  No poetry writing this time around.  Dad was trying to figure out the brother, sister, husband, wife connection of Grandmother Carter, Grandfather Carter, Uncle Lafe (Lafayette) and Aunt Tiny.

Carter Wilson Connections

The Carter brother and sister each married a Wilson brother and sister.  I haven’t checked the family tree to see if that’s right.  The topic came up when Dad told the story of the uncles coming to the farm from the city (West Lafayette) to visit.  Dad and the two uncles would go fishing at the gravel pit.  The uncles didn’t know where to drop their lines because they didn’t know where the fish were … but Dad did.  The fish hung out on the far end where they dumped the old wire fencing.  “The fish must have fooled around in the fencing.”

The story became more complicated when I asked Dad which uncles they were.

“Well, Uncle Lafe always came to visit.”

“Who was the other uncle?”

Dad couldn’t think of who it was or who it could be……  “Uncle Lafe was married to Aunt Tiny.  They lived right next to us.”

“Next to the farm?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you said Uncle Lafe came from the city to visit.”

“He did.”

“But I thought he lived right next to you.”

“Hmmmmmm.”

One confusion led to another.  We were glad to find the bench to rest on to sort through the story.

Dad looking at the barn in the meadow

Dad looking at the barn in the meadow

The barn in the meadow usually brings back memories of moving hay on the farm.

The barn in the meadow

You had to have three people to get the hay into the hay mow.  One to work the fork that grabbed the hay, one to drive the horse on the other side of the barn to lift the hay bale up into the hay mow and one to release the hay bale once it was in place.

“Usually the kid in the family was the one with the horse. I was always the one with the horse on our farm.”

Dad rests as I chase butterflies

At the far end of the meadow we saw little white butterflies flitting about.  They were the same type of butterfly we had seen last week at Lord Stirling Park.

“Dad, do you think those are butterflies or moths?”

“If you ask me, they’re moths.  Butterflies have color on them.”

I had a feeling his answer would be the same as last week.

“But Dad, moths fly around at night, butterflies fly around during the day.”  I don’t know if this is really true or not.

I couldn’t get a photo of the little white winged creatures, so we moved on.

Dad stopped, startled by the sight of a train going by in front of us.

“I didn’t think we would have a train cross our path!”

Wires for the train

Train tracks run along the far side of the meadow.  It looks as if the train is running along a path in the woods.

With our backs to the train tracks we took another rest on a bench.  Dad wrote, I drew, and we both re-hydrated.

An isolated tree on a hillside

Reaching for the great blue sky

Catches sunlight and breezes

And certainly enriches the scene.

the isolated tree in the meadow

Dad re-hydrating

Still Dad was showing no fatigue.

Climbing the last hill of the day

Nearing the top of the hill

Unbelievable.  Dad hasn’t had this much energy in months!

Our favorite bench is at the top of this hill.  We didn’t write, we didn’t sketch.  We sat and smiled at the expanse of meadow that lay before us.  After a bit, reluctantly, we moved on, leaving the meadow behind and entering the woods between the high meadow and the Raritan River.  We crossed back over the cement bridge and out into the sunshine of the open grass below the mansion.  There we found another bench.  It was getting late.  We didn’t write, we didn’t sketch…. even though that is what we do when we sit on benches.

Another bench

What do we do?

We always have a marvelous day together.  Today was exceptional.

Read Full Post »

Rain, Rain, Go away.  Come again some other day….. any day but Thursday!

I stuffed two plastic garbage bags in my backpack along with a picnic lunch, writing supplies for Dad and sketching supplies for me.  The morning rain guaranteed that the park benches along the trail at Natirar would be wet.  Not a problem, Dad and I have sat on garbage bags before.

The sky drizzled all the way to Dad’s, then stopped as we headed down the mountain.

An incredible stone wall

My attention was stolen by an incredible stone wall about four feet high and four feet thick!  Dad missed it, so I turned the car around and headed back.

Rounding the corner

“Those people sure have a lot of stones to get rid of to make a wall so thick,” was Dad’s comment.  I pulled off the road and grabbed my camera.  I’ve never seen such a wall.  It runs along the perimeter of a private residence.  The creator of the wall was preparing to move more rocks with his front loader.  I motioned to him that I would like to take a photo and he looked at me, puzzled.

Another view of the amazing stone wall

I tried my best to explain Thursdays with Dad, our quest for adventures as well as unusual and creative construction of buildings (and walls).  The stone artist’s name is Stefan G. Stefanov.  He is from Bulgaria and he won my heart with the beauty of his wall.

Great abstract patterns

The rhythm of the shapes delight me.  Small stones stacked tightly together contrast beautifully with larger stones. Had I been alone, I would have stayed and sketched the wall until nightfall.

Back in the car, Dad was still puzzling over the dilemma the homeowner had of dealing with so many rocks.  He couldn’t quite imagine why anyone would want to buy that many rocks, so he assumed the rocks had come out of the property grounds.

“Maybe they just want a beautiful wall, Dad!”

The day would continue to be a bit of a push and pull day…..

Next stop was Best Buy.  I had a coupon that expires tomorrow and thought it would be entertaining for Dad to think about how electronic devices have changed since he was a boy making his own radio.

Turned out that it wasn’t all that fascinating for Dad.  When we returned to the car and I asked him to write a bit of a poem about his view of the changes in the field of electronics, he scowled.  A little reminder of how words flow from the pencil when it touches the paper and Dad agreed to give it a go.

The uninspired poet

Walking into a modern electronics store

Number of possibilities is limitless.

Parking lot full of cars

Radios in cars

Capable of receiving

Signals being sent.

Communication by signal

No problem at all.

With modern technology

Mission is accomplished

Electronically, that is.

But content is what counts

It’s what those words say,  —

The feeling expressed, —

The message conveyed.

If the meaning conceived

Is the one meant,

Then the sender is pleased

And the receiver well informed

But with careless senders

And poor listeners

Possibilities are infinite

For total confusion.

If you hand a pencil to a person

And a small scrap of paper

Be wary because

This is what you might get.

Written by the receiver of the pencil and paper

The sun shone brightly as we left the parking lot and headed to Natirar.

Casualties of Hurricane Irene?

Four gigantic trees had been cut in the area by the parking lot where we picnic before our walk.  I found it unsettling.  Dad felt that it would give the neighboring trees more sunshine.

A simple lunch

Once before I made peanut butter and rhubarb jam sandwiches for our picnic lunch.  The rhubarb jam was in a tiny jar in my refrigerator.  I don’t know who bought it.  I used up the entire tiny jar on our sandwiches and thought it would be the only peanut butter and rhubarb sandwich I would ever eat.  Wrong.  While cleaning out Dad’s cupboards I found another jar of rhubarb jam, a large one, enough for at least a dozen more picnic sandwiches.

A peaceful spot

We admired the view and commented on the changing shadows.  The crisp edges softened as clouds passed in front of the sun.  We watched the sunlight glide along the tops of trees, chased by the billows of gray.

Wicked Winds

Suddenly the sun vanished entirely and we heard the wind howl.

A Change of Weather

Leaves swirled madly in the air.  Sticks whipped past us at shoulder height.  Dad and I continued to eat our lunch, smiles on our faces, invigorated by the energy around us.

Boiling Billows of Clouds

“What do you think, Chris?”  Neither one of us moved.  I began to feel I was being irresponsible.  Maybe we should stop enjoying the turbulence and seek shelter.  “I don’t know, Dad.  I like being out in a storm.”  “Hmmmm.  Me, too.”  We both took another bite of sandwich.

Darkness

When the world around us turned black we nodded to one another and gathered our picnic from the table.  Reluctantly we returned to the car.   I looked around at the giant trees that could fall onto the car and crush us.  I thought we might be safer walking out into the open field.  Looking again at the trees, I decided they would not fall on us today.  The sky opened up and raindrops beat against us as we slipped into the car.

Through the window of the car

We continued our picnic in the front seat of the K-car.

Rain in the Woods

The rain has interrupted

A snack in the woods

A rush to the car

Just in time to keep dry

Pattering on the car top

Announces the showers

Thunder is persisting

As the clouds swing and sway.

What a show Nature gives us

It’s never the same

But always uplifting —

At least I see it that way.

Still LIfe of an Apple

We decided to wait it out, hoping for the storm to pass by.  We still wanted to go for our walk.

Dad's view of the apple

Dad enjoyed seeing the reflection of the apple in the windshield.

After the storm

The wind died down and a bit of brightness could be seen through the clouds.

Blue sky appears on the horizon

The rain stopped and the clouds began to clear.  We were grateful, thinking we would still be able to walk the short loop before the weather changed again.  We were wrong.  We headed back to Chelsea.

There is always next week……

Read Full Post »

Wednesday morning I called Dad to remind him that I would visit on Thursday.  After his doctor’s appointment we would picnic and go for a walk.

Buildings near the picnic tables at Natirar

“I’ve missed spending Thursdays together these past few weeks, Dad.”

Short pause…. “So have I.”

Another short pause ….. “Have you been on vacation, Chris?”

“No, Dad, but you have.  You’ve been with Jane and her family in Cape Cod for three weeks.”

“I have?”

I thought I had become accustomed to Dad’s memory loss.  I haven’t.

Thursday morning I arrived early at Chelsea.  I repeated how great it was to see him again.  The rain clouds were clearing and provided us with the promise of a beautiful day.  I reminded him that we would stop first at Dr. Frisoli’s for his B12 shot and to have some blood drawn.  He looked a bit perplexed.

“Is it because I’m getting old?”

“You’re having blood drawn to test your thyroid, Dad.  It’s possible that the growth on your thyroid is causing your memory loss.”

“My memory isn’t that bad is it?”

“It’s pretty bad, Dad.  Do you know where you’ve been for the past three weeks?”

“Here?”

“You’ve been having a fabulous time in Cape Cod with Jane and her family.”

“Oh….. that must have been nice.  I wonder why I don’t remember?”

The part of the conversation that was missing was the final statement that, over the past few months, usually concluded a memory loss acknowledgement, “I really must do something about that.  I’m sure I can, I just need to put my mind to it.”

So off we went.  Dad’s two, giant, walking sticks were waiting for him in the car.  I brought them with me from the house. (Those two sticks caused a bit of a stir when I was pulled over by a policeman a few nights before.  But that’s another day … another story).

Picnic at Natirar

Maybe if I hadn’t forgotten to bring the blue corn chips our picnic lunch would not have been such a bizarre experience.

I packed the leftovers from the scrumptious dinner Tom made on Wednesday evening, Scallop Crudo and Ceviche Verde, as well as salsa, strawberries and watermelon.  The Scallop Crudo was a a two step process that was to be done just prior to eating it. The scallops needed to be sliced thinly and placed in the special acid sauce (orange juice, lemon juice, etc…) to “cook” for five minutes.

Salsa, Scallop Crudo, Ceviche Verde and Watermelon

As I sliced up the scallops, Dad wrote his first poem:

The oaks and the ashes

Cast solid shadows

Over picnic tables.

Watermelon and strawberries

Rest upon our table, —

Some already consumed.

Pencil to paper

In futile attempt

To express the quiet beauty

All ’round.

Certainly not typical picnic fare, I agree. Had there been chips, Dad would have followed my lead by piling salsa or the Ceviche Verde onto a chip and munching away.  Instead, he cut a piece of watermelon and started to dip it into the sauce where the scallop slices were “cooking”.  My immediate response was to stop him, just as Mom used to stop me from mixing my peas in with my applesauce.  Since I hadn’t permitted the dipping of the watermelon he piled salsa on top of the watermelon instead.  I sat wondering how delicious it probably would be to have watermelon dipped in the acid sauce.  When the scallops were cooked, I spooned them out onto our plates.  Dad looked at them oddly and asked what they were.  With hesitation, he tried them and, without enthusiasm ate them all.

Dad puzzling over a plate of strange food

We finished lunch by dipping watermelon in the acid sauce.  Dad thought that was an odd thing to do.

Maybe I’ll make peanut butter sandwiches next week.

We reversed the direction of our walk and headed to the meadow first.  Last time we visited Natirar we looped around along the Raritan River first and explored the meadow last.

A peaceful place, Natirar

Along the path there are numerous benches for resting and enjoying the well-manicured landscape.  Just past the bench with the “In memory of Willow” plaque, we stepped off the path and made our way down to the river where we sat on giant roots listening to the water gurgle over the rocks.

River Rocks and Twigs

Sitting on the spreading roots,

of rather large oak tree

Beside a wide, rippling stream

I write to try to describe the scene

While daughter Chris sits on an adjoining root,

Sketching rather than writing

Endeavoring to capture nature’s beauty

Hoping for others to feel and see. 

Before returning to the path, Dad did a little exploring.

Beneath the bridge

Under the bridge

We returned to the path and headed up the hill toward the meadow.  Only halfway up the hill Dad needed to rest on the convenient bench.  “I’m a little surprised that I need to stop at this bench….. we haven’t gone very far.”

At the top of the hill the path leaves the dense forest of giant trees and carves its way through tall grasses and hedgerows.

Upon seeing these spiky plants, Dad exclaimed “Huckleberries!  Ahhhh, huckleberries!” He was sure they were huckleberries, though he didn’t know why.  “Don’t you know huckleberries?  You know Huckleberry Finn, don’t you?”For the rest of the day he pondered on huckleberries, not sure anymore that those plants were huckleberries and wondering why he thought they were in the first place.

What is this? Does anyone know?

What is this? Does anyone know?

Across from the spiky weeds Dad found a split rail fence and became fascinated.

“Look at this.  Amazing.  No nails needed at all.  Hmmmmm. Some sort of tool was needed to make that big hole, though.”

It was as if Dad had never seen a split rail fence before!  Or maybe, it was the first time he viewed it from the point of view of awe rather than seeing it simply as a fence.  Dad views everything as if for the first time…. the trees …. the clouds …. the high tension wires and the solar panels on the top of the telephone poles.  It’s not a bad way to view things.

The meadow

We stopped to rest at “Perfect Solitude” bench.  From the bench we have a panoramic view of the meadow and the old barn.

Old Barn

Change

or

Old Structures Find New Uses

One full side of the old barn

Has six archway openings

Each about eight feet wide

Where cattle once came for grain and shade

Some of the barn’s vertical sideboards are now missing, —

The roof needs repair

Farm machinery is stored there

No livestock seen now, none anywhere.

Time flies. while old structures

Find new uses

Old skills are refined

New skills are finding new uses.

8/4/11 Dad with daughter Chris

Tree in the middle of the meadow

Dad was not finished with his thoughts on the old barn.  As I sketched the tree in the meadow he started juggling words aloud…. “old barn, new uses, new skills …. new barn, old uses, new skills …. old barn, old uses, new skills”

I became totally distracted from my drawing, fascinated by his word game.  We spent the next half hour discussing what it was he wanted to convey with those six words and only those six words.  This is what we came up with after lengthy discussions of the passage of time and the need to be flexible so as not to go out of business.  Grandaddy and Dad lived through the transition from horse to tractor, making that transition each in his own way.

Old Barn

Old barn, old skills, old uses

Old barn, old skills, new uses

Old barn, old uses, new skills

Old barn, new uses, new skills

Old Barn

Why do clouds cluster?

At the next bench our attention and conversation was focused on the way clouds cluster together.  Dad suggested that it might be due to the minuses and pluses within the clouds themselves.  Can anyone help us on this?  My brain was still a bit frazzled by the word juggling.

The meadow path

Even the path through the grasses brought an expression of awe and wonder to Dad’s face.  I have to agree that it looked like it might lead to the Emerald City, brilliant green beside the dried grasses.  Walking with Dad reminds me of walks with Nicole, Alexis and Mike when they were young.  The world is fresh and new when seen through the eyes of children.  For me, it is fresh and new again when seen through the eyes of my father.  Thanks, Dad!

We headed back along the path entering the dense forest, leaving the open meadow behind.  I gave Dad the choice of looping around along the river or heading back to the car.  He opted for the car.  We arrived back at Chelsea in time for the wine social.  After pouring our wine, Ken clarified that Huckleberries are small, wild blueberries, quite yummy in muffins and on oatmeal.

Dad with his walking sticks

Just as Mom used to wait at the living room window to wave good-by to us either on our way to the bus stop as children, or driving down the hill as adults, Dad waits for me outside the front door of Chelsea to wave as I drive by, headed home after another wonderful day together.  This time, I stopped to give him another hug and to remind him to go back to where we joined the group for wine and pick up the two walking sticks we left there.  I’m hoping he remembered after I got back in the car and waved good-by.

Another thought…..

Dad always wrote in rhyme.  For him, I don’t think he thought of his words as poems unless they rhymed.  Yet now, nothing rhymes.  He writes in free verse form.  He writes observations of his immediate surroundings.  The word juggling that was inspired by the old barn is the first time I have observed playfulness with the words themselves since we have been walking, drawing and writing together.

Read Full Post »

The weather was perfect to explore the walking trails of Natirar. The 411 acre property in Peapack/Gladstone is what remains of the 1000 acre estate of Walter and Catherine Ladd who acquired the land in the early 1900’s. The forty room Tudor-style mansion was completed in 1912. In 1983 the property was sold to Hassan II, the King of Morocco. In 2003, Somerset County purchased the estate. It is now a beautiful park open to the public.

View from our picnic table.

Dad puzzled over the cause of the bend in the tree. Enjoying their lunch beneath the tree are Berit Stover, her daughter, Sarah, Sarah’s good friend Samantha and 6 month old Sommer, a beautiful golden retriever. We found out later that the girls were playing hooky from school. Berit brought them to the park to paint with watercolors along the bank of the Raritan River. Natirar is named after the river (spelled backwards).

I forgot to mention to Berit that Steven Spielberg’s mother often allowed Steven to play hooky from school. The two of them would go off on movie making adventures instead. His mother became quite proficient in writing excuses for his absence.

Gramps Contemplating the beauty of the clouds

From the moment we arrived, Dad was captivated by the beauty of the clouds against the bright blue sky.

We started off with a delicious picnic lunch: bowtie pasta salad with fresh trout (caught by Tom), sun dried tomatoes, onions and tarragon; deviled eggs; watermelon. I decided to start using up my supply of Halloween party plates and napkins.

Picnic Lunch

After lunch we set out along the walking trail.

Dad's first poem of the day

We didn’t get too far before we came upon a bench with a great view. I did a quick drawing before handing my sketchbook to Dad. He resisted my suggestion to write a poem for the drawing, but finally reached into his pocket for his pencil.

He wrote:

The tree you’ve sketched

Reminds me of the oaks

Growing on the farm

Where I was born and raised.

Trees, pastures and grain fields

Dominated the landscape

I remember walking through the fields

And swimming in the cold water pond

We continued on our walk. The path led down to the river where we found Sarah and Samantha painting.

Sarah and Samantha painting by the river

Their enthusiasm delighted me. I am sure their experience today will stay with them for many years to come and will always bring smiles to their faces.

Dad and I stopped to chat with them a bit before moving on.

We wound our way along the river noticing trees leaning in peculiar ways. Leaning trees became the theme of the day.

Leaning Tree

Dad often stopped to take another look at the clouds as they were framed by the branches of the leaning trees.

Cloud framed by tree branches

And sometimes he simply stopped to contemplate why the trees were leaning in so many different directions.

Leaning to the right

After taking this photo he remarked that he thought it was a political statement. I didn’t get it at first, probably because I don’t lean to the right as he does.

As we crossed over a small bridge Dad told me how funny it had been when he first went fishing with Uncle Bill and Uncle Howard. As a boy, Dad had always taken his pole down to the pond, dropped his line, sat on the bank and waited for his cork to bob. He’d give a yank on the line, catch a fish and bring it home to the frying pan. Bill and Howard waded into the shallow stream and kept casting their lines in, over and over again. Dad kept waiting for them to settle down and get to the business of fishing. They seemed to be out there just to wade and not to catch fish. Dad always had gone out to fish and relax. Bill and Howard went out to fish and exercise. Dad never did catch any fish when he tried fly fishing.

At the next park bench we took another break. From the bench we had a great view of the Tudor-style mansion on the top of the hill.

View from bench No.2 and bench No.3

Once rested, we had the choice of turning left along the nature trail or turning right to return to the car. We turned left. The path led to an upper meadow of tall grass. An old barn brought to mind another story from Dad’s childhood on the farm in Indiana.

The barn in the meadow

The nature path made a circle around the steeply sloped meadow. Halfway around we found another bench. It was there that Dad wrote his second poem of the day.

Grasses

Grasses in pastures, cows munch

Grasses in parks, people view

Milk for the hungry

Salad for man’s soul

I loved the last line! When I read it back to him, Dad looked at me oddly. He had written ‘solace’, not ‘salad’, but agreed that salad made for a better poem.

A view of the upper meadow

While still resting on the bench Dad explained how he helped his father get the hay into the haymow when he was a young boy. At the next bench he illustrated the technique.

Getting the hay into the haymow

All of the sitting and resting with the gusty (tornado warning) winds blowing the pollen into my nose and eyes caused me to give in to sneezing fits.

Fragrance filled the air. Pollen filled my nose.

I don’t know which was worse, the pollen from the blossoms or the freshly cut grass.

the Nature Path cut through the meadow of grass

Another view of the barn

Finally we headed back to the car and returned to Chelsea just in time to catch the wine cart. Dad and I joined Al and Charlie outside by the vegetable garden. We had a lovely chat. What a lucky lady I was to be in the company of three fine older gentleman.

Read Full Post »