I mentioned last week I am currently reading a book on the life of John Muir (see previous blog post) There was a letter he’d written his sister Mary who still lived at home in the book. He longed for more specific news on the home front and sent her a sample of the kind of letter he wanted her to write..
“ Mary, you should put some grit and bone of that kind in your letters. Here is an example:
Dear John, We are pretty well, but are fast growing weary of the many changes which now seem to be of daily occurrence. We now live in a room made in the upper part of the barn next the orchard.
We reach it by an outside stair. It is hard carrying up the wood and water. Once I slipt and fell with an armful of burr oak firewood and sprained my weeping sinew. The cattle live in the house now – the cows in the cellar, the horses on the first floor, and the sheep upstairs. Nan will not go past the cellar door, but we do the best we can.
The apple trees are dug up and planted upon the cold rocky summit of the observatory where I am sure they will not grow well. The cattle do not stand the severe weather well this winter. They stand drawn together like a dog licking a pot.
Aunt Sally is married, and Lowdy Grahm has whooping cough. Write soon or sooner. From your sis Mary.
I scribble that nonsense only to show you that these small matters which occur in the neighborhood and which you do not think worthy of note are still of interest to us when so far from home”…..Affectionately JOHN
We had guests this summer from the East Coast. One of my regular blog readers stopped by with her two daughters on their way home from a family reunion to spend an afternoon with the Mrs and I. The following is a follow up note I wrote this morning to her based on some suggestions from John Muir on how to write a letter. 😉
Iowa 823 feet above sea level,
October 11, 2015
It’s still dark outside as I write…. Been thinking I wanted to jot you a note to stay in touch.
Yesterday was a big day.
Normally I save Saturday’s to play catch up around the farm, but I needed to work on my brother-in-law’s new house. There is still another week of framing to do before it is ready to shingle.
Before going to work,I set up the self-serve apple wagon along the highway. That normally takes about 15 to 20 minutes by the time I get all of the signs posted. After that, I made a mad dash to the farmers market to drop off two baskets of apples. Another vendor graciously offered at the beginning of the season to sell my apples so I didn’t have to set up.. While I love the interaction with the public on a Saturday morning, I have too many other things going this season to carve 3 hours out of a Saturday morning. When I went back at 11 to pick up my apple baskets, only $7.00 worth of fruit had sold. Judy (another vendor) said she would buy any remaining Suncrisp I had left.
” They make awesome apple pies! she said.
Since there was almost a full bag left, I traded her two bags of peanut butter cookies for 10 pounds of fruit.
I wonder sometimes how many of the older vendors are on fixed incomes. It has to be hard to bake all of those cookies, breads, and other goodies and have to take them home when they don’t sell.
There was a light mist in the timber and the low-lying areas as the sun was coming up. The neighbor’s black Angus spotted me when I stopped to take a picture.
When I got to the job site, a mist was coming off the bog…
Mist on the ground
We framed all day,25 feet in the air. Worked until almost 7 o’clock. We do have a lift with a 12 foot cage to work at that height You would NOT catch me up there if I didn’t have that under me. 🙂
My brother-in-law invited me to stay for supper after we finished. Took a couple more photos on the way home…here is one of my favorites:
Well, hope this note finds you well. Write soon! Your friend DM
Have you ever lived far from home? Remember the feeling of getting a personal letter? Tell me about a time you heard from someone that really encouraged you. Why did it?