So here’s the view from the upstairs bedroom window at The Frost Place in Franconia. When I first read “The Road Not Taken” as a student eons ago, I hadn’t the faintest inkling where the poet might have lived when he wrote it — indeed, I knew nothing about New Hampshire, period.
As fate would have it, this Hawai’i girl met her husband, a New Hampshire native, in London, England, and since then, we’ve visited many poets’ and writers’ homes on both sides of the pond. It’s always a wonderful moment when you finally get to see where a writer you’ve long admired actually lived. All at once he becomes a real person, and if you listen carefully you can hear whisperings from the past, as you gaze at the view that may very well have inspired a poem or two.
Frost lived here full time between 1915-1920, then summered here until 1938. Unlike his ten-year sojourn at Derry Farm (a period of unsuccessful farming and meager publication), by the time Frost inhabited this modest farmhouse his literary reputation was well established. He had just returned from England where his first two books (A Boy’s Will, North to Boston) had finally earned him the professional esteem he so earnestly sought and deserved.
The orange daylilies were in full bloom on that Friday in July when we happened upon the rusty mailbox on Ridge Road.
I sat on the porch rejuvenated by the clean fresh air, the silence broken only by occasional birdsong and the buzzing of determined bees. No wonder Frost loved it here!
“Without courage, honor, compassion, pity, love and sacrifice, as William Faulkner pointed out, we know not of love, but lust. We debase our audience. But we can enable and enrich our viewers and ourselves in our journey through this good time, this precious time, this great and wonderful experience we call life.” ~ Earl Hamner, Jr.
Saturday, when the air was cool and crisp, and autumn leaves were raining down like shimmering gold coins, Len and I drove out to Schuyler, Virginia, birthplace of Earl Hamner, the real “John Boy” of the popular Emmy-award winning TV series, “The Waltons.”
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Schuyler (sky-ler) is more a community than a traditional town (there’s no main street to speak of). Call it a hamlet, whose main feature is a meandering country road going up, over and around hills, with houses nestled here and there.
“I do not remember a time when I did not try to invent pictures and make for myself a fairyland amongst the wild flowers, the animals, fungi, mosses, woods and streams, all the thousand objects of the countryside.” ~ Beatrix Potter
Here’s a bracing cup of English Breakfast tea and a warm blueberry muffin to start your day!
The light, misty rain we’ve been getting recently reminds me of England. While sipping my tea, I remembered visiting Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm located in Near Sawrey, in the Lake District. To get there, we drove through rolling farmland and wooded hillsides, everything so green, with stone houses nestled around every turn.
I might have read Peter Rabbit as a child, but only came to know the rest of Potter’s work as an adult. Making the pilgrimmage to Hill Top, which Potter purchased with money earned from her first few books, was my inner child’s dream come true. This was where Jemima Puddleduck, Tom Kitten, and Samuel Whiskers were born, and where Potter began to reclaim her life after her fiance, Norman Warne, died suddenly of leukemia.