July 20, 2016

Wild Strawberries About Meadow and Lawn!

Susan Fenimore Cooper's "Rural Hours"
Lydia went out and about Corgyncombe picking wild strawberries.

Corgyncombe Wild Strawberries

"Thursday, 21st June - Both raspberries and strawberries grow wild here in such profusion that few persons cultivate them." 
~ "Rural Hours" by Susan Fenimore Cooper

Susan Fenimore Cooper wrote the book "Rural Hours" as a journal of her frequent nature walks out and about the countryside. It was published in 1850.

Susan Fenimore Cooper was the daughter of James Fenimore Cooper, author of the "Leatherstocking Tales".

"Tuesday, 9th June - Fine strawberries from the fields this evening for tea. Warm, bright weather; thermometer 85 - lovely evening, but too warm for much exercise. Strolled in the lane, enjoying the fragrant meadows, and the waving corn-fields on the skirts of the village."
~ Rural Hours" by Susan Fenimore Cooper

The Turret at Castle Corgyncombe with heirloom sweet peas.

"Tuesday, 26th June - It was a pretty sight, coming home, to see the women and children scattered about the meadows, gathering wild strawberries. This delightful fruit is very abundant here, growing everywhere, in the woods, along the road-sides, and in every meadow. Happily for us, the wild strawberries rather increase than diminish in cultivated lands; they are even more common among the foreign grasses of the meadows than within the woods. The two varieties marked by our botanists are both found about our lake."
~ Rural Hours" by Susan Fenimore Cooper

Ah yes, what a beautiful sight this must have been indeed, with the ladies and children dressed in the good taste of the day, but alas and alack one cannot say the same thing today!

Lydia's chair was made by talented Seth Tudor, son of Tasha Tudor.
It was so nice talking to him again!

Lydia, a Queen Anne English wooden doll, and her wonderful clothing, sewn with tiny stitches, were made by talented dollmaker Kathy Patterson.

I remember picking small wild strawberries with a friend in the pasture behind my house. We made a delicious strawberry shortcake. That evening we spent the night in a small army tent in the pasture, studying for a history final with a flashlight. We woke up to see the lovely dew on the grass and cows and horse grazing around our tent. We had a great time that morning jumping on the horse riding bareback!

Wildflowers found around Corgyncombe and David Austin Roses in an old vasculum.

Pretty flowers decorating the outside of the vasculum.

In the book "1 is One" written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, the pages illustrating three swallows are bordered by wildflowers including strawberries and clover.

"A Basket of Herbs" illustrated by Tasha Tudor shows two children picking wild strawberries along with two corgis who look very interested in the strawberries. She also included a pencil drawing of a wild strawberry plant showing the strawberries and the blossom.

In "A Time to Keep" written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, the endpaper devoted to Summer features strawberries, clovers, roses, daisies and buttercups along with a frog. Tasha Tudor inscribed on this page "With love to Diane! Tasha Tudor"

Lovely landscapes and countryside.

Lydia found some clover at meadow's edge.

"Tuesday, 9th June - A meadow near at hand would seem to give more pleasure than a corn-field. Grain, to appear to full advantage, should be seen at a little distance, where one may note the changes in its coloring with the advancing season, where one may enjoy the play of light when the summer clouds throw their shadows there, or the breezes chase one another over the waving lawn. It is like a piece of shaded silk which the salesman throws off a little, that you may better appreciate the effect. But a meadow is a delicate embroidery in colors, which you must examine closely to understand all its merits; the nearer you are, the better. One must bend over the grass to find the blue violet in May, the red strawberry in June; one should be close at hand to mark the first appearance of the simple field-blossoms, clover, red and white, buttercup and daisy, with the later lily, and primrose, and meadow-tuft; one should be nigh to breathe the sweet and fresh perfume, which increases daily until the mowers come with their scythes."
~ "Rural Hours" by Susan Fenimore Cooper

"Rural Hours" by Susan Fenimore Cooper alongside Lydia and a strawberry and clover teacup.

 The countryside that Susan Fenimore Cooper roamed in "Rural Hours" is the same countryside that my ancestors came to during and after the Revolution, country life and landscapes that they were most fond of for generations.

My daughter Sarah wrote:
"In reading various entries in "Rural Hours" I was delighted to discover that some of Susan Fenimore Cooper's thoughts reminded me of my Mum's... not entirely put in the same way but still, similar observations, both often coming from an artistic perspective, aware of loveliness. It has been passed down to me, this tradition of appreciation of beauty in nature and landscape and old fashioned good taste. Knowing and hearing my Mum since I was a very little girl, I know her enthusiasm for such things. How I enjoyed reading pages of "Rural Hours" and as I noticed similarities, I kept thinking Mum and I have more in common with Susan than we have with much of society today."
~ Sarah E. Johnson

Some of the photographs and some of the writings on this post are from previous Corgyncombe Courant posts that can be found here on the Corgyncombe Courant and from our previous writings elsewhere on the internet.

Our email:

copyright © 2016 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

July 7, 2016

Rose Geranium Cake for Tea!

The Flavor of Roses!
Many doll bouquets are to be found in the small pewter sugar bowl.
Above, the doll sugar bowl holds a bouquet of Rose geranium leaves and flowers. The old receipt box was found with an old handwritten label. Receipt is an old fashioned word for recipe.

Creaming the butter and sugar, then adding the egg yokes for "Becky's Birthday Cake" from "The Tasha Tudor Cookbook". In the cake pan to the left are some scented Rose geranium leaves.

Corgyncombe Dairy goat Carmella Lucille's milk in a hand-thrown salt-glazed milk jug made by a friend. The little yellowware jar with the lid was a delightful find I bought at an antique store for $10 and it was full of nutmeg.

Wilma Higgs is an English wooden doll made by talented dollmaker Kathy Patterson, who also made Wilma's wonderful clothing with tiny little stitches.

In the winter, when Wilma first came to Corgyncombe, she discovered a Rose Geranium plant, its leaves when rubbed between her fingers produced a lovely rose fragrance. She placed the Rose Geranium leaves atop lavender in a pewter bowl, which together produced such a splendid fragrance, lavender and roses, but alas no blossoms. Later, in the spring, the Rose Geranium put forth dainty pink blooms.

At the bottom of each cake tin I distributed four leaves and then poured the batter atop the leaves.
 Above, the baked cakes.

The old teaset is decorated with hand painted leaves that bear a resemblance to old fashioned Rose Geranium leaves.

When I worked at a museum most of the other farm ladies went south for the winter. I stayed and taught fireplace cookery and other old fashioned tasks to school groups. Because the kitchen would get so cold at night, I was the one who took home the Rose geranium to winter it over 'til spring. One of the older ladies who I worked with told me about flavoring a cake with Rose geranium leaves in the bottom of the pan with the batter poured over.

Cupcakes decorated with Rose geranium flowers and leaves.

Before frosting the cake I peeled the Rose geranium leaves off. The Rose geranium leaves have imparted their rose flavor into the cake. Delightfully delicious!!!

Wilma made a bouquet of the Rose geranium leaves and flowers.

Tea and Rose geranium cupcakes in the Corgyncombe Garden of Herbs.

Tea at the Derbyshire writing slope whilst writing a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Some of the photographs and some of the writings on this post are from previous Corgyncombe Courant posts that can be found here on the Corgyncombe Courant and from our previous writings elsewhere on the internet.

Our email:

copyright © 2016 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

July 4, 2016

Howe Tavern, a Wayside Inn and Celebrating Independence Day!

Howe Tavern, an Ancestral Old New England House!
"And, half effaced by rain and shine,
The Red Horse prances on the sign."
~ "Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry David Thoreau noted in his journal: "Left our horse at the Howe tavern. The oldest date on the sign is "D. H. 1716."

"As ancient is this hostelry
As any in the land may be,
Built in the old Colonial day,
When men lived in a grander way"
~ "Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My 7th great grandparents' (David and Hepzibah Howe) house, the Howe Tavern in Massachusetts. The Howe Tavern is also known as the Wayside Inn, made famous in Longfellow's poem.

David and Hepzibah Howe's daughter Hepzibah was my 6th great grandmother.
In "Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Longfellow, he speaks of Hepzibah's brother Lieut. Col. Ezekiel Howe and the sword he used "In the rebellious days of yore, Down there at Concord in the fight."

In "Wings from the Wind, An Anthology of Poems Selected and Illustrated by Tasha Tudor", Tasha illustrated some farmer soldiers at the bridge for the poem "The Concord Hymn" written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. There is also an illustration of an old gravestone.

"But first the Landlord will I trace;
Grave in his aspect and attire;
A man of ancient pedigree,
A Justice of the Peace was he,
Known in all Sudbury as "The Squire."

And in the parlor, full in view,
His coat-of-arms, well framed and glazed,
Upon the wall in colors blazed;
He beareth gules upon his shield,
A chevron argent in the field,
With three wolf's heads, and for the crest
A Wyvern part-per-pale addressed
Upon a helmet barred; below
The scroll reads, "By the name of Howe."
And over this, no longer bright,
Though glimmering with a latent light,
Was hung the sword his grandsire bore,
In the rebellious days of yore.
Down there at Concord in the fight."
~ "Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The fire-light, shedding over all
The splendor of its ruddy glow,
Filled the whole parlor large and low;
It gleamed on wainscot and on wall,

It bronzed the rafters overhead,
On the old spinet's ivory keys
It played inaudible melodies,
It crowned the sombre clock with flame,
The hands, the hours, the maker's name,
And painted with a livelier red
The Landlord's coat-of-arms again;
And, flashing on the window-pane,
Emblazoned with its light and shade
The jovial rhymes, that still remain"
~ "Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

At the end of "Prelude, A Wayside Inn"
in "Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
"Then silence followed; then began
A clamor for the Landlord's tale, -
The story promised them of old,
They said, but always left untold;
And he, although a bashful man,
And all his courage seemed to fail,
Finding excuse of no avail,
Yielded; and thus the story ran...

The Landlord's Tale
Paul Revere's Ride

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal-light, -
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm."

continued later in the poem:

"A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land in flame with its heat."
~ "Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

The Corgyncombe Courant reports on an article found in an 1901 issue of "The Otsego Farmer":
The Otsego Farmer, January 11, 1901
"The firemen have much improved their hall by repainting and papering it and covering the floor with matting. Last Saturday evening, at the regular monthly meeting, there was an unusually large attendance. After the business meeting the veteran fireman, O. E. Taylor, by invitation, recited Paul Revere's ride, rendering that grand old poem with a zeal and fervor which elicited much applause."

Oh, how The Corgyncombe Courant reporters wish we had been there to hear the poem recited with "zeal and fervor" by a grandson of Revolutionary War soldier Elias Taylor and great grandson of Revolutionary War Soldiers Joseph Peters and Nathaniel Swift. O. E. Taylor was a great great uncle of mine and Elias Taylor was my 4th great grandfather. Elias Taylor served under Gen'l George Washington. Joseph Peters and Nathaniel Swift were both 5th great grandfathers of mine.

The Corgyncombe Courant is sure that many others in attendance at the firemen's hall were also descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers and one can imagine the roar of applause in response to such "zeal and fervor".

We are direct descendants of many Revolutionary soldiers.

The Corgyncombe Courant reporters have gone out on the Corgyncombe Cottage lawn on Independence Day and read "The Landlord's Tale, Paul Revere's Ride" written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Above are some favored lines, read with much "zeal and fervor" from the lawn at Corgyncombe.

Lydia went out in the Corgyncombe garden of herbs and picked a bouquet of David Austin rosebuds, feverfew, forget-me-nots, and lavender.
Lydia is an English wooden doll made by talented dollmaker Kathy Patterson.
Lydia was the package opened at our Valentine party at a friend's house, to many oohs and aahs. She is just beautiful and looks so old!

We have two lines of descent from the Howe family.
We also descend from David Howe's cousin Elizabeth Howe, who was my 7th great grandmother.
According to "The History of Leominster" by David Wilder and the Howe Genealogy, whilst Elizabeth Howe was visiting her sister, her sister's house was attacked by Indians who killed several of the inhabitants. At the time Elizabeth had been spinning flax and singing. "The History of Leominster" says she "probably was spared on account of the sweet melody she was making with her voice. The Indians used to make her sing to them in her captivity." Elizabeth was taken captive and eventually redeemed and able to come home to the man who before her captivity she had planned to marry, Thomas Keyes.

Grand Union flag, an early American flag.
The Grand Union flag flying o'er my 7th great grandparents' (David and Hepzibah Howe) house, the Howe Tavern.

We at the Corgyncombe Courant wish our Dear Readers a
Happy Independence Day!

Here is a link to a previous post
at the Corgyncombe Courant:

Some of the photographs and some of the writings on this post are from previous Corgyncombe Courant posts that can be found here on the Corgyncombe Courant and from our previous writings elsewhere on the internet.

Our email:

copyright © 2016 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson