Posts Tagged ‘N. C. Wyeth’

The weather has turned blustery, shaking the remaining leaves from the trees and sending the chipmunks underground for their long winter’s nap. No frost yet, which is unusual at this time of year for us, but, the bitter winds have begun to blow and we’ve felt the first bite of sleet. The days are sliding, determinedly, into the deep cavern of winter. Dusk comes earlier each day.

This morning, however, the sun came up strong with its rays casting the most interesting of shadows that show themselves in the most dramatic ways this time of year.

It was a Cream of Wheat morning!

Cream of Wheat was often our breakfast growing up. Sometimes, we had it for lunch. It was so warm and good after the cold walk home from school for lunch, and was just the fuel needed to walk back. It was one of the first cereals I introduced Jennifer and Katy to as babies, feeding them with a long, silver baby spoon that had been a gift from my Aunt Christina.

It’s Cream of Wheat Weather, I repeat, 
So guard your family with hot cream of wheat!

Cream of Wheat is a porridge; ground wheat, called farina. It is cooked with milk or water and just a little stirring makes the smoothest hot cereal imaginable. It was first introduced at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and was manufactured for many years out of Minneapolis. Such things one learns from Wikipedia!

The Cream of Wheat people employed aggressive advertising campaigns almost from the start with cups and bowls and all sorts of things advertising their cereal. They also had such wonderful, now nostalgic, posters. The one above was done by N. C. Wyeth. The mailbox says Cream of Wheat on it.

I think I’ll just go get another bowl of Cream of Wheat.


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Men of Concord

Prize Farmer

December 28, 1853. E. W—–, who got the premium on farms this year, keeps twenty-eight cows, which are milked before breakfast, or 6 o’clock, his hired men rising at 4:30 A.M.; but he gives them none of the milk in their coffee.

 Men of Concord, by Henry D. Thoreau. F. H. Allen: Editor. N. C. Wyeth, Illustrator. Page 110.

With twenty minutes to spare before my luncheon engagement,  I darted into the Goodwill Store a few doors down. With only twenty minutes, I knew I couldn’t get into too much trouble. I also knew I would have time for only one section, so, I headed over to my first choice, the book section.

A quick glance at the shelves indicated some fine books had been brought in since my last visit. Paperbacks and novels, some newer editions, some with the distinctive covers of older issues, all in good condition.

There, with its neat little spine facing me, was the title, Men of Concord and one surname, Thoreau. As I ever-so-gently slid it off of the shelf, the wonderful cover greeted me. The words upon its pages taken from the journal of Henry David Thoreau. The magnificent illustrations from an admirer of Thoreau. N. C. Wyeth.

You may remember my telling of our autumn sojourn a few years ago to Massachusetts and Walden Pond, which I wrote about here. It was a wonderful trip, made even more so by an afternoon lunch on Walden Pond and a walk through the woods that Thoreau wrote so famously about in Walden.

You may also remember my appreciation for the artwork of N. C. Wyeth, especially in his illustrations of a favorite childhood book, The Yearling, which I wrote about here.

To find the words from Thoreau’s journals so evocatively illustrated by N. C. Wyeth was a blissful encounter indeed.

Walking out of the store, I felt good at how little trouble I did get into, hugging my book, in pristine condition, at a whopping price of $1.95!

I thought I did pretty well for myself in such a short time.

Plates from the front of the book. Please click the pictures for a better look, especially the cover above.

Thoreau and Miss Emerson

Bronson Alcott at the Granary Cemetery in Boston

Four boys and a horse.

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The Yearling

N. C. Wyeth illustration, Jody Finds the Fawn, The Yearling, Margaret Kinnans Rawlings

Jody scrambled down from his perch and ran to the place where he had seen the fawn tumble. It was not there. He hunted the ground carefully. The tiny hoof-marks crossed and criss-crossed and he could not tell one track from another. He sat down disconsolately to wait for his father. Penny returned, red of face and wet with sweat.

“Well, son,” he called, What did you see?”

“A doe and a fawn. The fawn were right here all the while. He nursed his mammy and she smelled me and run off. And I cain’t find the fawn no-where. You reckon Julia kin track him?”

Penny dropped down on the ground.

“Julia kin track ary thing that makes a trail. But don’t let’s torment the leetle thing. Hit’s right clost this minute, and likely scairt to death,”

“His mammy shouldn’t of left him.”

“That’s where she was smart. Most ary thing would take out after her. And she’s learned the fawn to lay up so still hit’ll not git noticed.”

Illustration by N.C. Wyeth. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

“Hit was might cute spotted, Pa.”

“Was the spots all in a line, or helter-skelter?””

“They was in a line.”

“Then hit’s a leetle ol’ buck-fawn. Wasn’t you proud to see it so clost?”

“I was proud, but I’d shore love to ketch him and keep him.”

Jody talking to his Pa, Penny, after seeing the fawn.

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Chapter 11, pages 97 -98

I have owned an exquisite old copy of The Yearling with the wonderful illustrations of N.C. Wyeth for several years. The book sat on an easel with this colorful book cover (the same illustration is also in the book), decorating our guest room. I decided this summer to read it again. It has been awhile, a long while, though I did see the movie not too long ago starring Gregory Peck, who was also Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

The book made me cry, several times, and it kept me as captive as Jody’s fawn, Flag, who he tried to domesticate.  The book has some rough spots with scenes of hunting and fighting and the language may be offensive to some these days as it is written in the vernacular of the south and the central backwoods of Florida just after the Civil War, but, I find it to be an endearing story of a young boy and his love of wild animals – and of his love of his father.

That is what The Yearling is really about to me. Jody’s love for his father and Penny’s love for his son. It is about Penny Baxter and the lessons he teaches by example: to be kind; to only take what is needed from the land; to try to get along with each other and with the neighbors; to work hard and to take the time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of nature; to set food and provisions by for harder days; to solve a problem by thinking it out first. It is also about growing up and family and consequences and choices and mostly about being honest and true.

I read The Yearling again this summer and it captivated me once more. I also learned that you can tell the gender of a fawn by the configuration of its spots. We have scampering around our yard and through our flower beds twins and a single fawn. Like all babies, they are as cute as can be and often up to mischief. By the arrangement of the spots, we have two girls and a boy. The boy is one of the twins and they are a bit smaller than the other fawn. His spots are certainly in a line, while the others wear theirs helter-skelter.

I will admit that I needed to read the story aloud a few times to get the rhythm of the language and to figure out what a few words were. It took me awhile to understand pizzened meant poisoned. Fortunately, it didn’t take Penny any time at all as he refused to set poison around his property to fend off the marauding wolves and bears after a flood devastated the area.

The Yearling is still a good read with messages and wonderfully descriptive passages about a time long ago when the backwoods of Florida were still untamed and dangerous and where families lived and worked hard and told stories and appreciated the land they were on.

What are you reading this summer?

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