Farewell and thank you

Aldo Galli & Richard Adams

On Christmas Eve, a magical night in which animals have been known to speak, beloved author Richard Adams slipped peacefully away from us and on to his next life…presumably one filled with rabbits. Through the incredible kindness of his friend and Watership Down illustrator Aldo Galli, we met Mr. Adams last year and had a wonderful afternoon of tea and conversation with Richard and his wife, Elizabeth, at their family home in Whitchurch. It was one of the most memorable days of my life, a day that also included a memorable hike up to Watership Down and time spent with our dear friend Aldo. (You can see more photos of these past trips here and here.) Over 40 years and 50 million readers later, Watership Down has become one of the most cherished adventure stories of all time–and has been made into a new BBC animated film to air on Netflix this coming year. In 1975, in The New York Review of Books, critic Alison Lurie shares her thoughts on why the novel remains timeless: The book “became an international best seller not just because it was well written and original. It was attractive also because it celebrated qualities many serious novelists are currently afraid or embarrassed to write about… What a relief to read of characters who have honor and courage and dignity, who will risk their lives for others, whose love for their families and friends and community is enduring and effective…”

Godspeed, Richard Adams. Thank you for sharing with the “whole world” your tale of faith, courage and triumph. We can just picture you now–standing atop your beloved Down, gazing out over the English countryside…forever standing watch for your old friends.

“Dandelion, get down!” [Hazel] said. “”Why are you sitting up there?”

“Because I can see,” replied Dandelion, with a kind of excited joy. “Come and look! You can see the whole world.”

Wide enough…for thee and me

A beautiful and comforting essay for this tumultuous week in America. By Kristin Kimball, who makes her life and living at Essex Farm in Essex, New York.

“This world surely is wide enough to hold both thee and me.”  – Tristram Shandy



Photo by Kristin Kimball, Essex Farm


For the love of aprons


“I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love…”


Source: #LoveWhatMatters, inspired by Tina Trivett’s original poem, Grandma’s Apron. (And thanks to C.W. for sharing the original post!)

Two words

“How can a few short weeks alter the course of a lifetime? Two words: summer camp.”

If summer camp remains the best vacation of your entire lifetime, you are so not alone. Author Dominique Browning (who blogs at Slow Love Life) captures what it feels like to be set free on a mountain (or by a lake, a river or in the woods) with hundreds of small children, a few responsible teenagers and college-aged students (“counselors”) and the requisite number of adults so that no one ends up hurt or in jail and everybody thrives. On our farm we’ve (perhaps unknowingly) created a camp-like environment where kids–and adults–can come relax, play and be at peace. And at the end of each day after feeding the horses, I often find myself humming “Day is done…” as we walk up from the barn and get ready to make a fire. Ever so often, especially in summer, I even dream of camp and the beautiful “Taps” that echoed through the woods after campfire time…tucking us into our rustic cabin bunk beds (no guardrails) where we fell hard asleep, our bodies and minds blissfully spent. It’s a bugle call that lives in my heart and takes me back to childhood. For all of you lifelong campers out there, who find yourselves often “trying to get back to summer camp,” enjoy this piece on The Days of Reveille and Taps. 

Arielle at Camp

Arielle at Riverview Camp for Girls Mentone, Alabama, July 2000


Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, ‘neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

Under the Stars…with S’mores


I remember it like it was yesterday. An overnight campout during my little sister’s and my first summer at Camp Skyline Ranch in Mentone, Alabama…and my first bite into a S’more. How was it that our parents somehow failed to expose their 6 kids to America’s easiest and absolute best-tasting dessert? What is it about this 3-ingredient campfire treat that makes even the most erudite adults wax nostalgic about childhood summers? In Dan White’s new camping and travel memoir, Under the Stars, the author, who lives in Santa Cruz, California, devotes pages to the S’more and deservedly so. It’s the object of every camper’s affection and out here at our place we serve them up regularly. In fact, one cold evening last winter, Arielle and I got a craving so strong we made some indoors in front of the Buck Stove in the living room. White gives us the origins of the dessert (tracing it back to a 1927 camping manual called Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts) plus much, errr, s’more on his adventures in nature all across America’s great woods and wilderness. Share your own camping memories and photos now on White’s new Facebook fan page, and you can listen to a special July 4th interview — “How America Fell in Love with Camping” — on Wisconsin Public Radio.

July got here just a little too quickly, don’t you think? So damn the calories — let’s celebrate Summer with gobs of gooey S’mores!

Under the Stars