Sometimes, serendipity throws lovely things your way. Today, as I was looking at my to-do list before I go on vacation, I saw “blog” and wondered what I might write about. It’s not that there hasn’t been plenty going on here, but it’s simply been too busy to slow down enough to write.
Earlier this week, I received a small addition to the Rachel Field collection, and that necessitated shifting some items around in our small collection alphabetical files. As I was moving files from box to box, I spotted a title that caused me to stop and look at the object. “Godfrey, Laura Travel diary, 1885,” the folder title read. Hm. Perfect.
What could be better to send me off on my two week staycation? I began flipping through and found that it was an epic vacation Ms. Godfrey recorded. She traveled with her friend Grace Patten from Bangor, Maine, through various cities along the East Coast where they picked up more friends. The diary chronicles their travels through the Midwest into the Western states. It is a detailed little book with extensive notations on plant life, geographical features, the modes of transportation they used, layout of rooms in houses they visited, and descriptions of the people they met along the way.
Godfrey ends her travel diary with the following entry:
“To the Elect of Car Four, Greeting. June 1885.
The trees are clothed in leafy dress, the hills are garbed in green, and everywhere the richest hues, sweet smelling flowers are seen; the roses ope[n] their dewey cups and blush beneath your gaze, while daisies white and buttercups stand all in tangled maze; the sweet voiced birds on every branch sing all the livelong day, and odours floating everywhere betray the new mown hay. It is the June! New England June! famed far for royal beauty, when days of ease and nights of peace, are all one wants for duty. The trees and flowers the birds and clouds are painted to be seen, the perfumed air blows everywhere, to be enjoyed I ween; in ev’ry field, on many a bush, is seen the ripening berry; all Nature says “Come, eat your fill, be idle and be merry!”
We’ve seen the West; its mountains grand, its deserts vast, its ranches, where herds of sheep and cattle roam or where the ladened branches are hung with fruit of golden hue, of crimson or of yellow. We gazed with joy. We tasted well, the fruit so sweet and mellow. We climbed the mounts, we saw the views, we “gushed” sometimes with wonder at Yosemite’s lofty peaks, Niagara’[s] deafening thunder. Where the Pacific’s waves curl up, we walked the yellow sands, and looked across with longing eyes to stranger climes and lands. We visited the Missions where our hearts grew reverent; we went to Chinatown and there our money freely spent; we gazed afar o’er prairies where tossed the growing wheat; we visited fine buildings, of wealth or power the seat: we “did” the West, and I suppose must say, “it can’t be beat!”
And then we turn our faces to see the rising sun, and towards Atlantic’s rocky shore, we come on fastest run the engine puffs, the cars speed on, each day we nearer come, till one by one, we meet again loved faces in the home. And now we cry, “Who cares to go, where California lies? Beauties as fair with fruits as sweet, lie thick before our eyes, for June is here! New England June! What more could mortal ask? Let’s taste her sweets, her zephyrs breathe, and in her beauty bask!”
And what if hoary Winter shrouds the world in white sometimes, and Boreas blows a mighty blast? His weird and wailing chimes, old Winters snow, the cold and frost have beauties of their own, which we can only learn to love, who have among them grown; and sure we are, no other land is loved by June so well. Sweet dainty June! no poet can one half her beauties tell. She tripping comes with flowers in train; what more can mortals ask? Let’s taste her sweets, her zephyrs breathe, and in her beauties bask–”
Well, it may no longer be June, but I will be spending my next two weeks basking in the beauty of the New England summer. I’ll be sure to write in my diary about it. See you in two weeks!