Wednesday, May 13, 2020


Photos in this morning's local paper* showed 7-month old heifers running in a pasture for the first time. The accompanying article said, "...they jumped from the trailer into the pasture where they will be spending the next few months."

Oh, how I remember watching Mr. Hooper's heifers leap from the back of his truck when he brought them from his Danvers dairy farm to the Locust Lawn property near my home. At Locust Lawn they would have acres of fields and woods in which to roam. Probably they had been cooped up in a barn all winter.

They arrived packed side by side in the truck, with no room to maneuver. Mr. Hooper parked the truck on the old dirt road just south of the big barn at Locust Lawn. He opened the wide gate to the pasture, which sloped down towards the east, beside the ski slope.  Then he lifted the back panels out of his truck and prepared to position ramps for those young cows to walk down from the truck bed.

Well! The heifers didn't wait for a ramp. Some leapt sideways into the air, and hit the ground running!  They seemed to jump for joy. They cavoted around in the free space, and ran off in various directions.

What fun to watch this ritual of Spring! 

* See the Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 13, 2020,  "Who Let the Cows Out?" online (with video of the heifers) at

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day

Dogwood trees always make me think of my mother. She LOVED dogwood trees and their blossoms.

On a walk this morning in Holyoke, I photographed these lovely examples.

Dogwoods bloom in early May -- around the date of my mother's birthday (May 5). Mommy would take us to her home town of Westport, Connecticut, and show us streets lined with flowering dogwoods. On some streets the dogwoods were so huge that they towered over the roadway, connecting into a continuous canopy of pink and white dogwood blossoms.

Younger dogwood trees grew beside our little house in Danvers. I believe that she had transplanted them from Westport sometime in the early 1940's.

Happy Mother's Day! 

Remembering Janet Cutler Nichols (1912-1976).

Monday, May 4, 2020

Joys 1977

In October 1977 when I wrote about, and cried over, losses (see previous post), I continued writing and expressed joy. The next page of that old journal begins,

What a rich, special childhood I had!
May 5, 2020, is the anniversary of my mother's birthday. How fitting that I can share this remembrance now.  Janet N. Cutler was born on May 5, 1912, and lived to almost 64. She came to Danvers in 1940 to marry my father. They started married life in a small rental house on Nichols Street, just across from the large Locust Lawn property. They'd been house-hunting elsewhere, but hadn't yet found what they sought. So, on a temporary basis, they moved into that little cape. Lucky for me, they stayed. I, born three years later, was able to grow up with grandparents next door, and acres of woods, fields and streams nearby.

Here's the final page of my journal entry written on October 5, 1977:

What a rich, special childhood I had! The land and plants and wild birds and animals were so much a part of it, thanks to my mother. She taught me so much about nature and conservation and appreciation of life! That is a wonderful gift. She got such joy from the simple things – a bright red leaf, a fern fiddlehead, growing vegetables, a new wren in the birdhouse, etc. And my life is enriched by experiencing these wonders as she taught me to.
As a child I used to get tired of her exclamations to come see the cloud, or this leaf or that view. "oh Mommy!" I'd reply "it is just another leaf..." etc. I resisted her enthusiasm. But it came through whenever I was alone (at Putney, and now). 
Now my kids have to endure my endless cries of "Oh, look at that." I want to pass on that love of the beauty of nature. (Even though it carries with it the pain of watching "progress" spoil the beautiful land.)
What a joy tonight  to get in touch with this special gift  from my mother, after concentrating for hours on the hidden messages* I got from her, most of which were negative. I got lots of problems from her. I'm like her in so many ways. But fortunately the good came with the bad. I feel love for her now. And I like myself.

*See my Comment below for context about "hidden messages" and some examples. I did appreciate my mother during my youth. My comment in fall 1977 about problems referred more to changes I, as an adult, was attempting to make in some of my habits, and my realization that she had been, of course, the model for those habits. She had died in April 1976.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Losses 1977

In fall 1977, in California where I had lived since 1971, I enrolled in a seminar that caused me to look back at my childhood and think about early influences on my life. Thick notebooks from that "Inner Growth Seminar (I.G.S.)" – filled with my notes, assignments and journal entries – have lain dormant in storage for decades.

Now, with time on my hands because of the coronavirus shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, I've opened old boxes and reviewed the contents to sort out what might be tossed or kept.

Here's a relevant excerpt from my journal, written on October 5, 1977:

I have just written my IGS homework, and then 1 1/2 hours of uninterrupted 'brainstorming' of childhood memories. I started writing down clues, fragments, scenes – anything that came to my head – just to get it down for future reference. No judgment, no thoughts about my parents, just my memories. What can I see? What did I do? Where & how did I play?  The memories are coming faster than I can write. My hand is cramped. One pen has run out of ink & I'm using up a 2nd!
Tears came as I wrote about the Delhi farm. I wish I could go back there. It is so special to have memories like that. Why do these places have to leave the family?  I am sad that my kids can't play there as I did. 
Locust Lawn is spoiled, cut by Rte 95.
My old yard is overgrown, changed.
The big old barn was demolished.
The woods were cut down.
Granddaddy's house and the playhouse are gone or sold.
Delhi is sold.
Pine Knoll burned. The land is for sale.
Kermit's house was moved.
The 1-room schoolhouse was torn down after my 1st grade.
I'm really crying by now. I have remembered these places so clearly tonight and feel the loss. 
What will my kids remember? I feel sad that they do not know the woods + fields + meadows + big old barns + old family houses I played in. 
Tonight –just for tonight– I wish the world had not changed. I want to go back & play in those streams along Nichols Street.

All but one of those losses were in Danvers.

"Delhi farm" refers to an old dairy farm in the Catskills of New York. My mother took us there at least once a year to revisit the places she had loved as a child, spending summers on her grandfather's farm, which his father (James MacDonald) had started in 1850. That property was sold in 1972 after the last of the MacDonald sisters died. End of an era. Memories and photos remain.

For Danvers memories, I created this blog in 2007, thinking that I  – as a"new" writer in a Senior Center's writing group –  was writing for the first time about my Danvers childhood.  Ha!  I hadn't remembered the pages and pages I'd scribbled in notebooks in 1977.