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.

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copyright © 2016 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson