Robert Frost: Directive

Directive by Robert Frost [1874-1963]

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost …

… And if you’re lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me …

… I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can’t find it,
So can’t get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn’t.
(I stole the goblet from the children’s playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

Robert Frost had a summer home on the Merrimack River in Amesbury, Massachusetts, not far from where this photograph was taken at Lowell’s Boat Shop.

Ansel Adams: Visionary

anseladamsAnsel Adams was an only child, born to old parents in San Francisco on February 20, 1902. He was the only child of businessman Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray, and the grandson of a timber baron. Adams’ family home was in located in the coastal Golden Gate area of San Francisco. It was there that Adams developed an early appreciation for nature.

He was a shy child, possibly dyslexic, and subsequently he did not do well in school. He was ultimately home schooled, which led to solitary time spent walking along the still undeveloped and wild coastline. At twelve years old Ansel Adams learned piano on his own, and went on to pursue piano as his career. However, in 1916 Adams first visited Yosemite, which changed his passion from piano to photography. It was there in Yosemite that he would take up the camera, a Kodak No. 1 Box Brownie, which was a gift from his parents. Ansel Adams would ultimately spend quite a bit of time yearly at Yosemite, until he passed away on April 22, 1984.

Adams joined the Sierra Club in 1919 and subsequently spent the next “four summers in Yosemite Valley, as “keeper” of the club’s LeConte Memorial Lodge.”[1] This would prove to be quite opportune for Adams, as he became friends with many of the leaders of the Sierra Club and became involved with the early conservation movement. It was here at Yosemite that Adams would also meet his wife, Virginia Best. Adams involvement with the Sierra Club was pivotal to his early career as a photographer, with publication of his both his writings and photographs in their 1922 Bulletin and then a “his first one man exhibition in 1928 at the club’s San Francisco headquarters.”[2] Adams began to see the potential to make a modest living as a photographer through his continued involvement with the Sierra Club. Continue reading

Farm Fresh and Local In the Newburyport Area

berries2As a child growing up in the rural area of Massachusetts’ Northshore, my family grew our own vegetables as so many rural families did in the 1950’s and 1960’s. There were also many small farm stands around the area, and by the time I was in high school in the early 1970’s a few of the local farms were starting to go by the wayside.

The farm policy had changed drastically during the Nixon administration thanks to Earl Butz, who was Nixon’s Secretary of the USDA. Many small farmers found it difficult to stay afloat without the subsidies they were accustomed to receiving from the federal government. The documentary King Corn, is a very informative film about how Butz’s policies shaped factory farming and growing corn as a the number one staple in processed food.

Very few working family farms remain in the Newburyport area that were working farms when I was a child. Most of the smaller farms of my childhood days are gone with the land being sold off for housing and commercial development. A few small farms continue to grow their own and sell their produce and meats at their farm-stand businesses. However, two newer, more enterprising larger farms in the area also carry other local and non-local produce and products as well as their own locally grown vegetables and fruits.

On a late spring afternoon in mid-June, I decided to take a drive along the backroads of the Newburyport area to take stock of the local farm stands and what they have to offer. Newburyport also has a vibrant Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings at the Tannery on Water Street, but locavores in the area also rely on local farm stands for fresh vegetables and fruits in season as well as grass fed meats and free-range poultry. Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day Reflection on the Great Famine of Ireland

pop_change_1841_1851While you are preparing your St Patrick’s Day dinner today is a good day to reflect on the history of the Great Famine which effected Ireland for generations to come. The traditional Irish-American Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner is a favorite in my home. Today I as I prepare my St. Patrick’s dinner to share with my family, I reflect on one the key components of the dinner, potatoes, and all that the poor in Ireland suffered for its reliance on the potato as its main source of food.

The Great Famine of 1845-1849 is perhaps the most significant event in Ireland’s history. It was a catastrophic event in the history of Europe and the considered the worst famine ever recorded in the world. The Great Famine primarily effected the poor in Ireland, which accounted for 2/3’s of the Irish population. This majority population were also “dangerously dependent on the potato for survival,” and the potato had a limited storage life of one year. The short shelf life made it impossible to compensate from stored crops between good and bad harvests. This set a dangerous precedent for famine in Ireland in the nineteenth century coupled with the British government’s grave disinterest in its closest colony, Ireland.

The land system in Ireland at this time was quite precarious and volatile at the time. Relationships between landlords and tenants were on tenuous terms financially and politically. England’s industrial revolution had had disastrous effects on the many “cottage industries in Ireland in the 1830s and 1840s, especially the weaving and spinning of textiles, and many hundreds of thousands were left without employment,” that supported the working class Irish people. There was little investment being made into the Irish economy, instead, those who could afford to invest invested outside of Ireland in Britain. Continue reading

Daily Affirmations: My Sense of History

North Pool Overlook at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

North Pool Overlook at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sometimes we overlook the things we have done in our lives as we wish we could do more things, or go somewhere we like to travel to, or have opportunities others have. In these moments we can re-mind ourselves of this:

“I value my sense of history. I am alert to the many colorful and enjoyable episodes in my own life’s unfolding. Rather than bemoan a lack of color or adventure in my life, I consciously choose to notice and appreciate the many small adventures and victories which each of my days entertains. I focus on the precise and measurable evidence of the good that comes to me as I am alert to life’s many blessings. I notice, remark, and remember the kind word, the well-told joke, the flashing beauty of a small finch lighting on a roadside shrub. Alert to the beauty and detail around me, I revel ever more fully in the many graces life has to offer me.” – Julia Cameron: Blessings: Prayers and Declarations for a Heartful Life

Namaste… Pamela