Friday, April 11, 2014

My Family And An Edwardian Kitchen

This Old House kitchen

The Downton Abbey kitchen is not the only place to see the Edwardian style.  Did you know a popular design style in kitchens today is Edwardian? When you see old school pendant lights or funnel industrial style pendants it is mimicking the Edwardian period. A simple trim is usually incorporated into the design.  My family's farm had Edwardian appliances in the kitchen.

The husband of the couple who live in the house above grew up with an AVG oven.  The one pictured above is in the style of the old wood burning stoves like the stove below that was used in the Edwardian period.  You can't see it there is an old wood box under the stove filled with split wood.

My great aunt never married and lived on the family farm in West Virginia with her widowed mother, divorced sister, child and unmarried brother the other children had married and left home.  They supplied eggs to the Greenbrier Resort during the Great Depression. 

My great aunt's sister worked in the doctors clinic at the resort where millionaires would come for a checkup along with some R&R. My great aunt's job supplied most of the income during those years for the family, my great uncle also worked the dairy farm but it didn't provide enough income for the family.

The Family Farm is now a B&B, The Old Stone Manse, Caldwell WVA

The stone and wood plank house was built in the early 1800's, my great grandmother arrived there on horseback at the turn of the century as a bride, my sister inherited her ladies side saddle from that trip.  The house was never renovated except for electricity and running water.  When you walked on the floors the wide planks would creak.    

My great grandfather was a clerk of the court and died before the birth of his last child.  My great grandmother never married again and raised my great aunts and uncle on her own.  Three of the children received a college education.  My great uncle and aunt stayed to work the farm.

The stove in the kitchen was an old black cast iron wood burning stove.  The stove above looks fancier than what my great aunt had.  It was the same stove that cooked the food my father ate when he would go for long visits as a boy in the summer during the 1920's and 30's. 

Root vegetables my great-grandmother would keep in the cellar
My father joined the Navy during WWII and became a pilot in the Pacific theater.  He made a "visit" to the farm flying his plane under the telephone wires to show off, scaring my great-grandmother but she enjoyed it just the same.  That's how she was a good sport and fun loving.  I think she's one of the reasons Dad loved the farm so much and what child wouldn't love to be on a farm.

Dad mentioned things that happened while visiting, the sheep that died and was burned in the field (apparently they are not buried).  He said he didn't like the smell (it was a mature sheep) and didn't want to eat mutton afterwards.  Stepping in what looked like a solid cow "pie" and sinking down until it covered his ankle and part of his leg!

My father eventually married and brought his family to visit at the farm.  We would stay overnight since it was a days drive from out home in Northern VA.  I wasn't used to old houses with high ceilings having always lived in a new house in suburbia.  At night I would be so scared I would pull the covers over my head be hot all night and never sleep or at least it seemed that way. I was always relieved for the morning and light!
Dad is gone now and I wish I had asked him exactly what he did all day at the farm.  I would like to have known more of his routine and his interaction with the family. 
Now I would love to stay and walk the mountain behind the house, check out all the rooms and old furniture.  The old milking barn and furniture is gone now, probably the old stove too although it may still be there.  The long front porch running almost the length of the house is gone but that probably wasn't there in the beginning, it looks much better without it.  

The present owners who bought the house from my family made it into a Bed and Breakfast and did a wonderful renovation. My father has since stayed at the house and loved how things looked.

There is usually a mist that comes off the Greenbrier River, you can see it in the picture.  In the early morning it is almost like thick pea soup, you can't see a foot in front of you, at night when it is clear you can see every star in the sky!

Suzanne Powers Art Gallery: 


How Spring And the Redbud Changed My Life

Even though the bird's nest looks abandoned during winter's cold there are signs of life and the hope of the birds returning! How I appreciate nature and it's ability to shake the cobwebs of winter out of our thinking and start us on a new path! 

Red maple seed pods

The Redbud tree is one of the first to show off it's stunning pink flowers, it is life changing - I'm a visual person and beauty affects me, if something is beautiful sometimes it makes me cry. I stare at the tree in bloom in breathless awe not having seen such bright color for eight months. 

The color is nothing less than spectacular, ranging between a purple and a bright pink setting off the dull brown tree trunks  and undergrowth just beginning to transition from winter's lifelessness to the lush bright greens of springtime.

The shock of color sets off the woods like a precious magenta jewel, seeming to give off an aura of brightness in it's woodsy realm.

It is native to the eastern United States and grows as far as Ontario Canada and spreading west to Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  It only grows to 30 feet and has round heart shaped leaves.  

It is part of my heritage and has been here since before the Colonials and Indians giving a feeling of continuity, revealing a hint of the past of what things may have looked like in a primaeval state.

The trees give sustenance, the flowers, buds and pods can be sauted, the buds pickled.  The fresh flowers can also be added to salads.  In southern parts of Appalachia the green branches are used to season wild game and is known as the spice tree.  

I like discovering folkways and I am beginning to understand that the woods are full of new tastes and delights yet to be experienced. I am curious now and want to try a small handful of blossoms on my next excursion.

The Redbud flower arrives early and takes us out of the winter dole drums, regrets of the winter enjoyments and parties now past with a beautiful jolt of sprays of pink branches stretching out, foreshadowing the summer season to come.  

Just when you were counting the months until Christmas wishing for that jolly season the Redbud gets our attention and makes us take notice, giving us exciting thoughts, triggering our memory of past summer fun; a trip to the beach and other good times. 

The beauty of the flowers of the Redbud keeps coming back to me I can't shake it and starts me dreaming about new warm weather adventures.  On with the new and what lies ahead I now affirm.   How I love and appreciate the Redbud tree!

Suzanne Powers Art Gallery: