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!


Long Weekend

Last weekend was “Long Weekend,” a break from Friday/Monday classes. I went home. I went to Victoria Station and the Bean. I raked leaves and put my garden to bed. I found my digital camera. I discussed the amazing Sherri Vogt.

Saturday was my most productive day. I woke up early and drove to Providence. I parked just outside of the Brown campus and walked to the RISD Museum. I didn’t have to pay for admission, as I am a member of the American Association of Museums. If you are a student it costs $35 to be a member and you get free admission to museums across the country including MFA Boston, Brooklyn Museum, ICP and the Guggenheim. I think some museums allow a guest to have free admission too.

I saw RISD’s new Chase Center for the first time. The museum seems so much larger and…museum-like with the addition. The South and Central Galleries are now filled with art and design from the 20th Century. The museum also now has a photo gallery, which seems painfully small for being part of the school that began to consider photography “art.” Both “special exhibition” spaces paid homage to Dale Chihuly. About one third of the space was given to the work of students who were instructed by him while the other two thirds was fully devoted to Chihuly himself. The RISD Buddha is sitting too comfortably; Chihuly has control of the museum.

I also visited Symposium Books and Books on the Square. I purchased a nifty field guide by May Theilgaard Watts and Tom Watts “for identifying deciduous trees in Winter.” The book closes in on the tree you wish to identify, by asking you questions about a single twig. You identify trees by process of elimination. As the illustration above shows, the book includes two pages of “conspicuous features” that can help you identify a tree based on where it stands in the landscape.

On the way home from Providence I pigged out on spinach artichoke dip and pita chips. YUM