Monday, August 17, 2009

1933, May 22: Gardening and Shaker Hollow Opening

Shaker Hollow
May 22, 1933
Sunday, 6.30 A.M.

My dear RH,
    I have been remiss, I know, but surely not so much as to have deserved such a greeting as “MY DEAR MR. SMITH.”  Couldn’t it at least have been “Dear HMK?”  or were you just in one of those formal modes?  Anyway, the box that came with your note with the petunias and delphinium made up for it so I will forgive you, provided, of course, that you too will forgive me.  It seems incredible that one should be too busy ever to steal a moment’s time for a trusted friend but that is my only excuse.  The weather finally turned and I have been in the garden since from dawn till dark and then have fallen into my bed and not stirred till dawn again.  I am as brown as the earth almost and have lost countless pounds and every one tells me I have not looked so well or so happy for years.  I am happy digging in the kindly earth and you should see how your pansies have responded to affection.  They are masses of bloom.  The white ones go to my little marble Virgin here on my desk before me and yesterday when Mrs. Force sailed I sent Dick in with a big box of white lilacs and with them a great cluster of pansies of all the other shades and it was beautiful.  Thanks again for thinking of me and of sending me these lovely little friends who are the symbol of friendly thoughts.  We have done a magnificent garden with flower borders all around and a long oblong vegetable garden in the center all outlined with rocks that we have dragged up ourselves.  In it are every old fashioned flower in the seed catalogs and they are all up and thriving with the lettuce and radishes and beets and carrots and peas and what not.  The east wall, which must be two hundred feet or more, is one mass of old lilacs all abloom, and there are apple trees and cherry trees as well.  And a lot of tulips along the stone walks.  In the woods at the back we found thousands of white blood root and tine anemones and violets and even Jack-in-a-pulpits, so the place really looks too beautiful.  And we are doing some business altho we won’t open officially until the first of June.  We had a wedding party here to start off with, and when I brought on the white and silver cake, which I had made with love and affection, as the clippings you sent me rightly said was the only way to succeed with cakes, the little bride-to-be burst into tears and said, “Must I really cut it?  It’s the first time in my life that I ever had a cake all by myself.”  “Of course not, my dear,” I told her.  We will pack it up and you shall take it home with you.  I had to think up a substitute dessert quickly but I managed it and she went off happy with her cake, which, if I may say, it was modestly a handsome one.  On Wednesday, Mrs. Force was out and we asked sixteen of her closest friends and we had a gay party and she was amazed and delighted with what we had done to the place.  Our awnings are striking ones, of gray and black and white with a shell pink lining and on this white house with its black shutters are very effective.  I made a tracing of one of the old door hinges and a long strap like affair and had an iron worker make me some flower pot holders for the windows so that I might keep changing the pots as the different flowers came on.  They are filled now with pink geraniums and English ivy and are nice with the pink lined awnings.  HB and Norma are still south but he is going to Spain this summer to study I think.  We are all well and as busy as two men can be but we love it.  Richard’s mother was up fourteen days.  She is ninety-two and is complaining because her hair is showing traces of gray and she kept us on the jump, I can tell you.  Charles Vincent is better of his operation but insists privately, of course, on showing Dick and me his incision with altogether Victorian pride.  My sister [likely Anna Schmidt Elbel d. 1935] is very ill again and it cannot be long now.  Yesterday was her wedding anniversary poor dear and it seems only yesterday that I helped as a small boy to bring in the apple blossoms and I can see my mother sitting among them up for the first time in three years for she died in the following September and I can hear the pearl passementeries swishing on my sister’s wedding dress again.  Sweet memories if they are sad and I think God is for them. 
    Well dear RH, I must do all the many letters I owe this early Sunday morning but yours has been the first so do forgive me and don’t write again to Dear Mr. Smith.


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