Growing up, I practiced piano under the sharp eyes of my great grandparents. Their picture hung just to the left of my piano. John and Margaret Lynch were born in the mid-19thcentury and arrived as part of the big wave of migration of the Irish to the United States. I don’t know how old they were when photographed – perhaps in their 50s? John smiled a bit for the camera, but Margaret is serious to the point of looking rather grim.
My sister and I decided to donate the photo to The Frost Place, a small museum in Franconia, New Hampshire, because Frost and his family boarded with the Lynches. John and Margaret are mentioned in Jeffrey Meyers biography of Frost published in 1996. After a few preliminary phone calls and preparation of a gift letter, we drove up to Franconia.
The Frost Place is off the beaten track! My GPS faded. The road is less traveled. Eventually we found a few signs to follow.
The Center consists of the house, a barn fixed for educational use, a trail and (best of all!) a porch. What a view! Part of the house is occupied by an invited “poet in residence” every summer. The public part of the house is beautifully restored.
Frost has been described as America’s most widely read and most loved poet, said to symbolize “the rough-hewn individuality of the American creative spirit more than any other man”. NYT, announcing Frost’s death, Jan 29, 1963
I love small museums! This is a delightful example of that genre, and well worth a drive off the beaten trail.
I posted some thoughts about “trigger warnings” on November 11, 2014. Today this crossed my radar!
The Times “Metropolitan Diary” the other day offered the following, by Jeffrey Kindley:
SURROUNDED BY DISTURBING ART
I was triggered at the Frick.
Those alarming Veroneses
may appeal to certain crazies;
I felt terrified and sick.
I was triggered at the Met.
“Los Caprichos” are disgusting
with their cheating and their lusting,
and those Schieles at the Neue
are at least as bad as Goya.
I was triggered at the Guggenheim,
the Whitney and the New.
I left MoMA in a coma
and I think that I might sue.
We need signs that give us a sense of
what you’ll find in a museum:
“Works of art may be offensive.
Are you sure you want to see ’em?”
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977. 176 pages, plus species lists.
This book is a gem! It is a full color facsimile reproduction, notable for both artistry and scientific accuracy. Edith Holden was known in her lifetime as an illustrator of children’s books. Decades after she died in 1920, a relative showed her “diary” for the year 1906 (which was intended as a teaching tool) to a publisher, who released it in 1977. The book is a combination of field observations (she walked many miles!), the author’s favorite poems and sayings, and beautiful, detailed paintings of insects, birds and flowers.
A second book of Holden’s field notes (The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady) was published in 1984.
I took a careful look at Holden’s entries for the month of May. The month begins with a detailed painting of a chaffinch’s nest with eggs, surrounded by hawthorn blossoms and wild hyacinths.
One of the mottoes listed is “Change not a clout till May be out”. I think this means “keep your winter cloak handy”. Good advice! On May 16, Holden reports cold north wind, thunder and HAIL. She went out none-the-less, and found a thrush’s egg that had been blown to the ground.
Holden includes poems by Wordsworth, Spenser, ap Gwillym and Ingelow among her May entries. There are numerous paintings.
This lovely book would make a fine gift for any nature lover, or a treat for when you want to savor poetry and art at the same time.