by Edward J. Fitzgerald
This is the brittle season. Darkly
The dry leaves lift their barren
And scratch against a gray and
The world lies stiff and frozen. Chill
From every hilltop, and the eye can
No sign in shrub or grass or leafless
Of slow revolving seasons or of
Stirring beneath the brittle shell of
Nor is there hope of change till
The green heart of the world starts
The distant baying of the hounds of
I found this piece by Edward Fitzgerald, a Victorian writer from Suffolk, England, in the March 1939 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. Although not known for writing "nature" poetry, evidence of it existed in his letters to friends:
"I get radishes to eat for breakfast of a morning: with them comes a savour of earth that brings all the delicious gardens of the world back into one's soul, and almost draws tears from my eyes."
"The trees murmur a continuous soft chorus to the solo which my soul discourses in."
Visit Carolyn who hosts Garden Bloggers' Muse Day on the first day of the month: http://sweethomeandgardenchicago.blogspot.com/
Taber's column in the March 1939 issue includes her musings over the fields around her home. She writes,
I walked over the fields last Sunday, where all the hollows are dark with water and the winter grasses hide the green growing shoots. Green is laid over the hills like a low wave; the swamp has a new color, red and yellow budding bushes. There is a kind of delicate mist along the trees, and the old gray rocks in the pasture are wet as seals.
Farther north than Taber's Stillmeadow farm, we've yet to see the green laid over the hills and the yellow budding bushes. But the pussy willow I went outside to photograph this morning has swelling buds despite another nor'easter pummeling up the east coast setting sights for a direct hit over New England by tomorrow morning.
I did buy these magazines for my mother. But they've since come back to sit here in my study, instead of on the shelves in her home, where I find myself consulting them for one reason or another. I also have one of her Gladys Taber cookbooks with our favorite "Company Chicken" and "Old-Fashioned Applesauce Bars" recipes. This cookbook is full of good reading as well as good recipes.
Polly and Hugh Johnson have a house in Wellfleet, overlooking the magical expanse of the salt marsh, laced with silver streams. One could sit all day and watch the mystery of the marsh, but Polly finds everyone who comes in is always hungry and she likes to have freshly baked bread on hand!
Old-Fashioned Applesauce Bars (My Own Cook Book From Stillmeadow and Cape Cod, Gladys Taber)
½ c butter
¾ c sugar
½ c thick applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¼ c unsifted flour
½ tsp soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
½ c chopped walnuts
½ c golden raisins
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat well. Add applesauce and vanilla, and blend. Sift four, soda, salt, and spices. Add to creamed mixture and blend well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Spread in a greased and flowered pan 13”x9”x2”. The batter will be stiff. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes. Cool slightly. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
MAKES 30 bars 3”x1”.
These are from Mabel’s kitchen. She says she sometimes uses light brown sugar, omits the cloves and adds 1 teaspoon of instant coffee. The cookie bars stay fresh in a tight container and also pack well.