Saturday, November 28, 2009

a time of magic

" Christmas has always been my family's favorite celebration.
It is a time of magic, Is it not?
~Tasha Tudor ~
looking out the window from my kitchen table at the late afternoon light,
everything seems to look different.
It seems to have a joyful anticipation to it.
Father quail stands sentinel while the rest of the quail family hurry
to the shelter of the old crabapples trees.
They've gotten plump from eating the deep red crabapple drops.
The wood box is stack't high by the back door and something good is
baking in the oven.
For me and my family, as soon as Thanksgiving has past, Christmas is most surely in the air.
And as always, Tasha Tudor's love of Christmas is always a great part
of our family traditions and celebrations.
and this Christmas will be even more special for us.
Our family Christmas is here on Deerfield Farm this year and we have a new little one that
we will share all our joy & anticipation....
I can't wait to have all my babies under our roof for Christmas Eve and morning.
now, I must find my Gingerbread cookie recipe....
Christmas is coming to Deerfield Farmhouse
this week!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

a pilgrim thanksgiving

Wishing you all a most blessed Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for you.

Every year we talked of visiting Plymouth Rock and having Thanksgiving dinner as the Pilgrims did that first Thanksgiving.
When both our married children had plans to spend the holiday with their in-laws,
we decided that it was time. Last November, my husband and I spent our first Thanksgiving away from family and home.
Most of all, we wanted to spend some time in Plymouth, Massachusetts exploring and doing some research into my husband's family history there. We wanted to have an authentic 1627 Harvest dinner, which we did and loved.
~~~ If you want to immerse yourself in a little bit of our country's rich history, this is the place to begin.
wonderful old ocean weathered timber framed buildings and fences in the re-created 1627 English farming village of the Plymouth Colony near Plimoth Plantation. The Pilgrim's first home in the New World.
But, along with the beauty of it were the stories of the people who once lived there. The harsh realities of the bitter cold, lack of food,the local "savages", dreary grey days, epidemics and the death of over half of the pilgrims who first set foot here on the rocky shores of Massachusetts. ~~~
I loved everything about it.
The simple practical beauty of it all.
Smoke crept out from the top most of the tule thatched roof tops.
The tall peaked thatched roofs.
Large and neatly edged or raised bed herb and vegetable gardens beside or behind every
It was lovely.
a basket in a tiny window the community wood pile
the thatcher's coat
winter blue sky
a moments respite beside the fire
overseeing the thatcher
isn't her blue linen jacket and
pettiecoat lovely?
I had the chance to visit with this Goodwife.
She proudly allowed a close look at the linen hand stitching
I told her I had never seen such finer stitching.
How beautifully
it was made. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ While we were there we wanted to be able to see and learn firsthand a little more of what all the old family stories of being descendants of the "old Pilgrim" were about. To either dispel or hold on to the long told stories handed down through the family and
hopefully, at last, find out what really happened.
While there is much more than I can write here or bore you with, I will share this with you.
What we learned was that my husband's ancestor, Robert Cushman, came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. He had arranged the leasing of the Mayflower for the Pilgrims, but didn't sail aboard the Mayflower to America , but came on the Speedwell instead. The Speedwell developed leaks and had to return to England. He then took passage on the Fortune to America. We learned that he was well loved and revered by the Pilgrims.
There is a wonderful *monument to him at the Old Burying Ground. see below~
It was Robert's son, Thomas, who married Mary Allerton who, of course, then became Mary Allerton Cushman.
My husbands mother, Mary Ann Cushman,(Crocker) was descended from Mary Allerton Cushman.
I will never forget seeing the exhibit for Mary Allerton Cushman at Plymoth Plantation the first time we went to Plimoth. There was her journal and sewing...some other things...
things like this give me chills....
If my memory serves me, there was a letter she had written to her oldest daughter who was pregnant with her first child and Mary was pregnant with what I believe was her last child.
Mary Allerton Cushman was the very last of the Mayflower passengers.
~In search of the Old Pilgrim~
the Old Burying Ground after dark
After dinner one evening we pored over our brochures and maps.
From our map we found the Old Burial Hill Cemetery
We decided to go on an adventure. Right then.
I cannot tell you how the chills and shivers ran down my spine, standing there in the freezing cold, fog and dark (of course we went at night)
I took a few pictures out into the dark cold pitch black night...who knows what you might find.
I'm always looking for orbs and things of that sort.
It didn't take long before the dark and freezing cold cemetery, dripping in wet ocean fog,
soon began to lose it's charm.
We decided to come back the very next day.
It was a beautiful New England morning.
Perfect for a good brisk walk
to the Old Burying Ground.
and so, there, at long last, at the top of the long climb of stairs
in the center of this ancient and sacred place
my farmer met his ancestor,
Robert Cushman
well, it's actually a monument dedicated
by the descendants of Robert Cushman in honor of their
Pilgrim ancestors.
Robert is actually buried in England.
Seeing my husband standing there reading about this man we had come so far to learn
more about made me realize how very strong of spirit they had to have been.
I see that fierce spirit in my husband,
my farmer who came from such
hardy brave souls.
As you gather around your Thanksgiving table today
with your loved ones all around,
would you join me in a prayer of thanks for all
the American Farmers who are the stewards and guardians of the fields and earth
and thank them as they work hard
to feed our country.
Thank you my friends,
A very blessed Thanksgiving to you all,
~ Plymouth Rock~
it's actually a lovely white granite, not large.
which simply reads

Saturday, November 7, 2009

a pleasante afternoon

melting bees wax over an apple wood fire
This is the best time of year...when the fields are finally at rest, the leaves turn deep reds and yellows, the crisp chill air calls for a sweater and boots and the scent of wood smoke curls down from the chimney.
a pleasant afternoon to dip candles down in the old orchard.
The candlewicks are measured out by eye, cut and then tied onto long sticks with a knot on the end,
then slowly dipped into the melted wax,
lifting them and straightening by gently pulling the knot
at the bottom while they're still warm and letting them cool.
new candles cooling in between each dip into the hot bees wax.
of course, there's my naughty kitten,Willow, underneath....
batting at the candles while they cooled.
Katie & I visit and dip the candles together.
The grandchildren climb the old apples trees and eat their lunch sitting on
the branches with the kittens.
We take turns dipping.
It becomes a rhythm, dipping, straightening and hanging them to cool.
The air is crisp on our cheeks, the hot fire smokes and crackles, we hang our sweaters and shawls on a branch and decide that we should tie more wicks, it being so pleasant out.
the nearly finished candles after cutting them from their dipping sticks.
I warm a large knife and cut their ends on a wooden cutting board.
I stack them on the pantry shelf and in old baskets to store.
They smell heavenly and make no smoke and do not drip.


By the end of the afternoon, the wind has come up and the sky begins to turn a deep indigo. Storm clouds hang over us so close we could reach up and touch them.

We gather everything up into baskets and let the fire die down.
We made nearly enough candles to last through the long winter evenings in just one afternoon.
An afternoon of family and togetherness.
and afternoon spent that won't be forgotten, carrying on our traditions
with the children under the old apple trees
down in the old orchard.
Our traditions are just simple things
but ones that the heart never forgets.
I hope this finds you all enjoying this lovely fall with those you love
and making some
wonderful memories.