Whistler, Moulton, and my snake-friend

I’ve been doing more research on Pomfret and I am almost sure that James Abbott McNeill Whistler lived in the white house two houses down from the Vanilla Bean. I also now know that his mother would have preferred not to live in Pomfret at all, but she wanted her sons to attend the school in Pomfret. Whistler took his mother’s maiden name as his middle name because of the sacrifices she made for him.

I also now know that Louise Chandler Moulton lived in the mustard house at the eastern-most intersection of Brayman Hollow and Peterson Road. Her family called the house “Elmwood Cottage.” Moulton and Whistler walked home from school together. One afternoon Whistler gave Moulton a painting which she kept until she died. A poem about her childhood home reads:

My thoughts go home to that old brown house
With its low roof sloping down to the east,
And its garden fragrant with roses and thyme
That blossom no longer except in rhyme,
Where the honey-bees used to feast.

Afar in the west the great hills rose,
Silent and steadfast, and gloomy and gray.
I thought they were giants, and doomed to keep
Their watch while the world should wake or sleep,
Till the trumpet should sound on the judgment-day.

And I was as young as the hills were old,
And the world was warm with the breath of spring;
And the roses red and the lilies white
Budded and bloomed for my heart’s delight,
And the birds in my heart began to sing.

…it isn’t the best piece of poetry, but it is comforting to think that she thought of her childhood home when she was older (and who would want to think of your childhood if you were raised a Calvinist). I will write more about Whistler, Moulton, and Pomfret in another post.

The seemingly, (and actually), random photograph of a Garter Snake was taken outside of my garden while I was home two weeks ago. Isn’t (s)he pretty!


Halloween Party, 1940


These images are from the Pratt Schoolhouse, once located across the street from where the Pomfret Center, Connecticut post office is today. A few of the children are ghosts and witches, there is a nurse, a cow, and a Snow White. The costumes are very unique, but I have no idea who or what many of the children intended to look like with their costumes. Help me out!

There are also a few clues around the classroom regarding what the students were studying. Nine years later the town’s new Pomfret Community School for grades K-12 was completed.




This IS Del.icio.us Digg It

an old cartoon
July 30, 2009, 10:51 pm
Filed under: last green valley | Tags: , , , , ,




Adelma Simmons became interested in herbs while working for a department store. She was a distributor who saw that specialty stores were beginning to sell fresh herbs. She read many books on herbs and soon retired from retail and worked full time in her gardens. Goats were the first crop that Simmon’s raised on her famous property in Coventry, Connecticut, and herbs were well-suited for the site as well. She had over thirty gardens and just as many employees until her death in December of 1997.

Prior to her death she reintroduce the United States to herbs through her lectures, daily tours, and Sunday teas. She was known to have an imposing personality. Her home, where she taught cooking classes, was not up to fire code. She believed that changing the building to meet fire codes would be damaging to Caprilands charm. She eventually refused to allow fire inspectors inside her home.

I visited Caprilands last week. My mother took my sister and I as children. I can only remember having gone once, but my mother promises that we made several trips there. I think that it was probably these visits that caused me to love gardening.

I am not able to remember these gardens during their glory days (pre 1998). Although I have been able to find a few photographs of the gardens during their hayday, they are relatively undocumented online.

On my most recent visit I took nearly three-hundred photographs. Below are two dozen of them.


zoological phenomena

Ten years ago it was not necessary for our family to protect any of our plants. Now, however, no plant is safe. The hosta on the east side of the house has not survived a single season in five years, the holly gets a yearly pruning in winter, and the vegetable garden now requires a six-foot fortress. Perhaps our property has been established as a (Good Grazing Ground (GGG) by the Association of Hungry Deer (AHD).

The article above was published in the New York Times in September of 1905. The previous day an article was published on the impact of deer on Pomfret’s farms.

Vegan gardening. in order to make this Frittata? or possibly to grow lesser-known fruits?

The New York Times has an article on students and recent graduates who are performing internships at farms. The article did not mention any of the Bennington students who have interned at farms (Bennington once had its own farm), but the article did mention that the interns came armed with a Bennington graduate’s book.

Cheever living in CT.

in the ground
April 22, 2009, 1:38 pm
Filed under: garden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

arugula, asparagus,* broccoli, chives,* lemon balm,* lettuce, lovage,* onions, parsley, peas, spinach

* denotes perennials planted prior to this year

Long Weekend


It is long weekend. I am in Connecticut, at home. I have been cleaning up my yard, and I will soon be working in my garden. I planted peas the last weekend in March as I thought it was time to plant them, but I do not think that it was. Not a single pea has peaked above ground. Perhaps this was an especially cold March? Maybe they are taking their time. I don’t know.

I picked up litter on 6/10ths of a mile on my road. I did this six months ago as well. I collected:

Redeemables (67)
32 alcohol cans
18 alcohol bottles
9 non-alcohol cans
8 non-alcohol bottles

Things that were redeemable before their barcodes became unreadable (32)
22 alcohol containers
10 non-alcohol containers

Non-redeemables (46)
13 alcohol containers
19 water bottles
5 iced tea containers
4 juice containers
2 coffee containers
2 milk containers
1 tin can

Garbage (one medium-sized trash bag)
30 or so plastic and Styrofoam cups (most from Dunkin Donuts)
1 portable fan

If this rate is consistent along Route 244‘s 3.6 miles in Pomfret (which it likely is; there are no major roads that intersect with 244 besides at its ends), there are 1740 recyclable containers thrown out of car windows onto my road every year. There are 28 houses on my street, one golf course, and two large farms. There are 56 containers for each of these! Every week an average of twenty alcohol containers are thrown out car windows onto this one stretch of road.

Because the expanded bottle bill passed fewer water containers will be thrown out of car windows as they have been given value. I am sad that the bottle bill did not include other possible additions such as coffee and tea containers. While the bill was being drawn up there was also talk of increasing deposits to 10 cents. There is other incentive to throw alcohol containers out of car windows. I don’t know how to solve that problem.

The town of Pomfret, Connecticut will be having a town-wide roadside clean up tomorrow, Saturday, April 18th. I will be participating!

There will be two book sales, a rummage sale and an auction on Saturday, May 2nd. I believe that both public libraries are currently accepting book donations at specific times.

I am starting to dream up my summer, and I decided that I am going to make non-stop yogurt and bread. OM NOM NOM