Home Is the Wanderer, Home from the Hills

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View From Florence Griswold House

NJWILDBEAUTY Readers know that Betty Lies arranged an artquest for us to the Connecticut town of Old Lyme.  Here, as you learned some posts ago, significant American artists of the Tonalist School boarded with Florence Griswold, turning out misty, moody, dreamy scenes of the bucolic surroundings of that stately home and town.  Others came along, electrified by the French Barbizon School’s approach to landscape, which had been (scornfully, by an art critic) christened “Impressionism”, with a nasty nod to Monet’s “Impression: Sunrise.” 

Neither school was a School.  Each evolved naturally, inspired by nature, in the days before ‘development’, which to me has always been a euphemism for ‘destruction.’

Our plan had been to drive up on Friday; stay in a nearby B&B; on Saturday, find the Museum that the Griswold home has now become;to  spend ‘the shank of the day’ with the artwork in frames and on walls, doors and panels of Miss Florence’s guests.  An adjacent gallery holds artwork of other countries and eras, all of it either leading to or influenced by Tonalism.

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Betty Studies the “Ticket Booth” for Outdoor Events on Florence Griswold’s Lawn

Fate had other ideas.

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Sign, Lawn and Gardens of Florence Griswold House, Old Lyme, CT

Betty’s early-morning fall on the Friday of departure led to nearly five Saturday hours in the Emergency rooms of (ironically) Middlesex Hospital (name of one of the hospitals in which my late husband long served, in New Brunswick, NJ, in the years of our marriage.)  This Middlesex is in Middleton, CT, and we now know more about Middlesex than we ever intended.  Her arm had broken.  Yes, the driving arm.  It was FINALLY splinted and slinged.  It is now cast, courtesy of Princeton physicians.  And we barely made it to Griswoldiana.

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Barn, Griswold House Grounds

Betty’s heroic and staunch.  I am neither, especially after spending this summer caught up in the dire plight of my nephew’s son James.  This musically gifted 20-year-old was snared by cancer inside his spinal column, abruptly and seemingly irrevocably discovered August 1.  James has now undergone two surgeries and God KNOWS how much chemo.  His walking remains a major challenge.

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Healthy Dahlia, Griswold Gardens

Betty drove anyway, insisting it did not hurt, as her insurance covers only the owner/driver.  I realized, that Saturday’s challenge was my first-ever experience of an Emergency Room.  That name, too, is ironic.  For no one seemed to comprehend the urgency in emergency.

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Palette, Griswold Garden

The art was lovely, dark but not deep.  Miss Florence remains overwhelmingly impressive, –such an independent woman making her indelible mark on the work of art, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in HER life.  Another mentor for us, like Eleanor (Roosevelt) and Georgia (O’Keeffe).

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Miss Florence’s Lamp, Griswold House

I only managed a handful of pictures for my readers.  Put Old Lyme into the search function to see the internet scenes of the mystical art which catalyzed and still evoke our experience.

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Miss Florence’s Roof

And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to figure out this trip.

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Miss Florence’s House, Home and Catalyst of Tonalism in American Art

 

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SEPTEMBER SONG — Autumnal Signs

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Autumn Mimics Christmas Along the D&R Canal

Is anyone else more impatient than usual for autumn crispness?  Do others feel as though that “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” will never arrive?  Might you be “making a list and checking it twice” of early proofs that there really is such a thing as fall?

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Autumn’s golden gifts brighten a dreary canal

I have begun my own Autumnal Chronicle.  Despite assiduous attention, however, this tally is pretty meager.  It is particularly challenging this year to differentiate between the season for which I am longing and the effects of drought.  Sycamores are turning.  But, these puzzle-trunked beauties require ‘wet feet’, almost as urgently as willows.  No New Jersey trees are receiving sufficient moisture in dire 2016. Shocked by dessication, sycamores began dropping huge loud leaves in August.

I’m seeking first wild spurts of scarlet and crimson: Virginia creeper, otherwise known as woodbine; and its usual neighbor, poison ivy act as restaurant signs for migrating birds.  These vines employ the most vivid hue the minute they’re ripe enough to nourish.  In nearly mid-September, both species remain relentlessly forest green.

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Autumnal Carnegie Lake

My fall list begins with the very loud, entirely too audible, crunching of crisp leaves under my car wheels along Fackler Road in Lawrenceville.

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Spill of Crisp Leaves — Carnegie Lake Dock

I was forced to acknowledge autumn as I passed the Lawrenceville Community Garden.  Every towering sunflower is bent and spent, like people who neglect osteoporosis.

Driving past Loews to reach Trader Joe’s, there was the first inescapable bank of mums.

As I carried TJ purchases back to my  car, however, I thrilled to an endless river of dark birds, coursing and coursing as though they fleeing an impending storm.

I realize that none of these examples contains the ecstatic outpouring I would expect from myself as the season turns.  And that NJWILDBEAUTY readers have come to expect from me.

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Sweet Gum Leaves in Autumn Finery

This year, the coming season is marred by the very serious illness of my 20[year-old great nephew, James Weitzel.  His heroism is striking.  But this shining young man; this consummate, initially intuitive musician (percussion especially); this person who’s touched the heart of everyone with whom he interacts in Springfield, Illinois, has been abruptly stricken in his prime.  Now James has a bald head, and not because it’s chic.  Now James has to relearn the very simple process of walking.  So my own heart and feet are not skipping.

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Delaware River Footbridge from Black Bass Inn in Autumn

Autumn meant new beginnings, for this foolish one who couldn’t wait for school.  I lived for first lavender smoke rising from chimneys, and especially from towering bonfires of leaves we’d raked all day..  And harvests were the heart of the matter.

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Trenton Farmers’ Market Bounty

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Today, I’ve tried to fill a treasure chest of autumn memories.  Maybe it will lift NJWILDBEAUTY spirits, as well as my own.  Maybe you’ll even comment on favorite aspects of this laggard season for you.

 

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Trenton Farmers’ Market Apple Crop

Parties meant bobbing for apples and sipping new cider. Popcorn turning white and sometimes a little black in the long-handled black corn popper over coals in our family room fireplace.  New loves began at pep rallies and the subsequent Homecoming Ball.  Happiness swirled in on every fresh breeze.

Maybe, seeing these NJ fall views, you’ll get out on (preserved, of course) trails, and create new memories.

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D&R Greenway’s Cedar Ridge Preserve — Terrestrial Box Turtle Among the Leaves

Maybe it’s color for which I am longing.

Or is it that September and October represent constellations of change?