Category Archives: Art

Twelve Treats of Christmas – Day Four

Plum Pudding

“Oh bring us a Figgy Pudding. Oh bring us a Figgy Pudding. Oh bring us a Figgy Pudding, and a cup of good cheer.”

Figgy pudding is like plum pudding. It’s very British and very child un-friendly. When I was young, my favorite parts of the dessert my Grandma Hall made each December were the flames from the burning brandy and the garnish of hard sauce made with sugar, butter, and more brandy. My feeling was that one tablespoon of pudding required at least two tablespoons of hard sauce to make it edible. But tastes change, and right now I would love a dish of that plum pudding.

My grandmother, Agnes Biggs Hall, made Christmas plum puddings to eat at the farm and to give away. She did this until the last year of her life. In December 1969, just eight months before she died, her sister Ethel Biggs wrote to her from Hartford.

“About your making plum pudding for us. You know we love it but will not be surprised if anyone else gets there first. I am sure it is too heavy for you to make. Don’t wear your arms out on other people. Problems of the raisins are due to the grape shortage, I am sure.”

I was in California that Christmas, and remember the grape boycott. I don’t know if she made the pudding that year or not, but I hope she did. A shortage of raisins wouldn’t deter my grandma – I’m pretty sure of that.

"Plum Pudding," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2015

“Plum Pudding,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2015

Twelve Treats of Christmas – Day Three

Peppermint Ice Cream With Hot Fudge Sauce

I don’t remember eating peppermint ice cream at any other time of the year. The alternative to this seasonal desert treat was spumoni, which had something unpleasant in it like raisins or candied fruit. The pinkish peppermint ice cream just seemed to invite garnishing with chocolate. My mother made her hot fudge sauce from the recipe on the back of the Baker’s Chocolate package. When you put the butter into the melted chocolate, the sauce became shiny and smooth. It was holiday magic.

"Peppermint Ice Cream," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2015

“Peppermint Ice Cream,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2015

Twelve Treats of Christmas – Day One

Heart-Shaped Ginger Cookies

A prized cookie cutter from our house on Whirlwind Hill is shaped like a heart. It comes from a set of four – heart, club, spade, and diamond. For many, many years I used these cutters to make ginger cookies at Christmas. Eventually I just used the heart. The shape was so pleasing, and when frosted with pink butter-cream icing, they reminded me of every picture I had ever seen of the iconic gingerbread man. I always used the gingerbread man recipe from the New York Times cookbook, and added a little almond extract to the frosting, just like my mother would have done.

"Heart Cookies," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and colored pencil, 2015

“Heart Cookies,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and colored pencil, 2015



Twelve Treats of Christmas

My taste runs toward the savory. If offered my dessert first I’ll probably refuse. I like my veggies and my salad and my protein. But when the second week of December comes, I remember fondly all the sweet and wintry food associated with past Christmas festivities and traditions. As I sit at my desk this month, with the darkening sky outside my window and the cozy lights inside, I feel ready to share memories of some seasonal treats. For the next twelve days, starting on Monday, I’ll post one a day until Christmas. I hope these posts rekindle some of your own memories of family celebrations and good cheer.

"Studio Window with Little Lights," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and colored pencil, 2010

“Studio Window with Little Lights,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and colored pencil, 2010


The Great Tornado

Last summer I wrote about corn and watermelon pickles and shore cottages and my mother’s birthday. It was cheerful. Bringing up disaster in the middle of the “good old summertime,” however, is kind of a downer, but because this event was important in the history of Wallingford, Connecticut, I’m going to throw all caution to the wind (so to speak) and write about the 1878 storm that devastated my town.

It’s the nature of disaster to come unbidden and leave scars. One minute you’re fine, and the next, the roof blows off and the floor gives way – figuratively and literally. When the great tornado of 1878 struck Wallingford, Connecticut one hundred and thirty-seven years ago, it did its work quickly but left an enduring mark.

"Squall," Carol Crump Bryner, collage, 2005

“Squall,” Carol Crump Bryner, collage, 2005

My mother’s family has lived on Whirlwind Hill in East Wallingford since the early eighteenth century, so I was always aware that, even though we weren’t in a tornado state like Kansas, we weren’t exempt from whirlwinds. Starting in 1670, when the town was founded, tornados visited Wallingford five times. The tornado of 1878 killed thirty people, injured over thirty-five others, and did significant property damage.

“On the afternoon of Friday, August 9, 1878, we were an active and a prosperous people…Surely any visitor on that bright day would in his heart have said, ‘Here is a place beautiful in its valleys and hills, and blessed in its contented and joyous families.’ No words could have been more true. But Friday evening saw a far different sight, for we were soon to feel the breath of the Death Angel…About 6:15 p.m. black clouds met above Community Lake and swept eastward…The time from the formation of the cyclone until its destructive work in the village was completed, did not exceed one and a half minutes…Torrents of rain fell for ten or twelve minutes. Water came down in sheets.” — John B. Kendrick, “The History of the Wallingford Disaster”

The above quote, and the vignettes in the rest of this post are from a book owned by my great-grandfather, William E. Hall. I have a feeling that my lifelong fear of tornados came from my mother’s telling of these stories. She treasured this little book that John B. Kendrick wrote and published only a month after the cyclone hit Wallingford. In seventy-six written pages and eight engraved illustrations, Kendrick detailed the horror, hope, and occasional humor that followed in the wake of the tragedy.

Front cover of "History of the Wallingford Disaster," by John B. Kendrick, published in 1878 by The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., Hartford, Connecticut

Front cover of “History of the Wallingford Disaster,” by John B. Kendrick, published in 1878 by The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., Hartford, Connecticut

Because a reprint of “History of the Wallingford Disaster” is easily available online or through that bookseller whose name starts with ‘A,’ I’ll share with you just a few highlights from the book.

The storm wreaked the most havoc near what is now Colony Street on the west side of Wallingford. The Catholic church was destroyed, and the majority of the dead were Catholics. A Protestant deacon who was visiting from a nearby town the day following the tornado asked a bandaged victim;

“My poor fellow, how do you account for the fact that none but Catholics were killed yesterday?” Without hesitation, Pat replied: “Sure and it’s aisy enough accountin’ for that; the Catholics are ready to die any minute, but your folks ain’t good enough to go suddint like.”

"Catholic Church," illustration from "History of the Wallingford Disaster"

“Catholic Church,” illustration from “History of the Wallingford Disaster”

In the chapter called “The Destruction on the Plains,” Kendrick wrote;

“All the barns in this section [the plains] were torn to pieces, and no one can find out where the wind put the pieces. One man went eastward to find his cow, and met her coming back uninjured. He does not know which left the premises first, his cow or his barn.”

“One of the injured women, upon being asked how it seemed, replied: “I did not know whether to laugh or cry; the pigs were whirling round in the air, cows were flying as if they had wings, and doors and furniture went by us and over us like lightning.”

"On the Plains," illustration from History of the Wallingford Disaster"

“On the Plains,” illustration from History of the Wallingford Disaster”

On the hill, and on the east side of town, the destruction wasn’t as pervasive, but still costly.

“In William E. Hall’s [my great-grandfather’s] woods, fine large beech, white oak, and chestnut trees, lie upon the earth broken and shivered; one can plainly see the manner in which the wind twisted them from their stumps. They lie here in every direction but the northwest. In one place the trees lie across one another, pointing northeast and south. The storm here was too high to do much injury to small timber, but these six acres of heavy timber suffered injury to the amount of about one thousand dollars.”

"On the Hill," illustration from "History of the Wallingford Disaster"

“On the Hill,” illustration from “History of the Wallingford Disaster”

On the Sunday following the tornado the high estimate of visitors was 77,000 – the low estimate 22,000. The rapid spread of word about the disaster seems amazing to me in the days before social media. Extra trains were added to the line to accommodate the hoards, and one hundred and thirty-eight Wallingford men (my great-grandfather William included) were deputized as special constables to protect life and property.

“Wherever there is anything to be seen, there will people gather, why this is a fact is not for us to explain; but we all know and have felt this peculiar attraction. The wind with its strange and fatal violence had scarcely done its work on that sad Friday evening, when strangers began to appear into the desolated regions. On foot, in teams, by rail, they found access into the village and among the ruins.”

"John Simmons's House," illustration from "History of the Wallingford Disaster"

“John Simmons’s House,” illustration from “History of the Wallingford Disaster”

The most vivid description of the storm’s rage came from a fourteen year-old boy, Elbridge Doolittle, who watched it from the second story rear window of his Center Street house. His tale makes the storm seem like a living being – a giant Godzilla bearing down on the tiny creatures below.

“I saw the lightning flashing, and then heard a queer noise, and turned around and looked over to the lake, in which direction there was a rumbling and rolling noise. There was a crash, and then something shot up into the sky that looked like a cloud of smoke, and was so thick that I couldn’t see through it. There was an awful roar, and it came along about five rods, and then there were pieces of board and shingles and pieces of roof, I should think that were about [five feet square]. These I suppose came from Grasser’s shop. The tornado, or whatever you call it, was about as wide as a house is long, and kept whirling round and round, being a good deal bigger at the top than at the bottom. It swept along awfully fast and tapered down at the bottom like a balloon with a long tail stringing under it, out of which a stream of water kept running, just like it would out of a tunnel. The tail kept swinging and whipping around like a snake…When it got opposite our house the thing was terribly black and thick and was full of timbers, which kept turning end over end instead of spinning around like a top. It was full of limbs of trees too, and they looked like big kites with the leaves at the top, and the limbs or trunks hanging down like the tail to a kite. Every little while the stuff in the air would drop and another building would be picked up and thrown around. The tail kept dragging along the ground and all moved very rapidly, there being no stop until it reached the school-house. Then I thought it stopped for a second or two, as if the school house was too big for it, but it went up into the air, and the tail seemed to wind around the school-house, I could see it so plainly…I should think it took about three minutes for the whole thing to come from the lake to the school-house.”

"The Graded School House," illustration from "History of the Wallingford Disaster"

“The Graded School House,” illustration from “History of the Wallingford Disaster”

The loss of life and shelter was horrific, but in the end, people stepped up and helped each other. Storm clouds made way for blue sky. Friends and neighbors nursed the injured, buried and mourned the dead, and rebuilt homes, barns, schools, and churches to shelter the living. Kendrick prefaces his account of the tornado and its aftermath with words of hope and optimism;

“Many men and women of our day think and act as if the days of chivalry were past. It is a great mistake. The world is daily growing wiser and better, and with all the sadness and pain of this disaster, there have been many, very many, grand and noble deeds of self-denial and mercy which assure one that this is not a very bad world after all.” — John B. Kendrick – Preface to “History of the Wallingford Disaster.”

"Retreating Storm Clouds," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2015

“Retreating Storm Clouds,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2015




The colorful and cheerful bluebird is often called the “Bluebird of Happiness.” Hearing their first spring song or seeing their bright blue bodies coming to land on a fence post is as joyful to me as having one land on my shoulder. They bring life to a landscape, and that’s the truth.

My mother's "Bluebird of Happiness," made by Ron Ray, 1994

My mother’s “Bluebird of Happiness,” made by Ron Ray, 1994

When I talked to my brother recently, he was sitting on the front steps of our house on Whirlwind Hill drinking a glass of wine and looking over the front yard to the reservoir. I asked why he wasn’t sitting out back on the deck, which is the usual place to relax on a late spring evening. He told me it was because of the bluebirds. They had returned, and he didn’t want to disturb them.

"View of the Reservoir," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 1992

“View of the Reservoir,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 1992

My mother, Janet Hall Crump, kept a pair of binoculars close by in winter when she sat at the kitchen table looking at the bird feeder and in summer as she enjoyed the peaceful view over the fields toward the ponds. She grew up watching birds and learning their habits, songs, and nesting patterns. In her later years she got more and more involved in the fluttering and tweeting world of her back yard. I know she was lonely much of the time, and for her the birds were cheerful, entertaining, and often dramatic neighbors.

Cousin Sue and Janet Crump sitting on the deck, spring, 2006

Cousin Sue and Janet Crump sitting on the deck, spring, 2006

In the 1980’s, when an effort to bring bluebirds back to the New England countryside caught her fancy, she joined the crusade. Because these birds like to nest near open fields, experts advised building nesting boxes to certain specifications in order to encourage the “good” bluebirds and discourage the “bad” imports – European starlings and English sparrows.

"Bluebird House without Bluebirds - Whirlwind Hill," Carol Crump Bryner, pen and ink, 1991

“Bluebird House without Bluebirds – Whirlwind Hill,” Carol Crump Bryner, pen and ink, 1991

My mother had birdhouses built out in the fields along the fence line and around the horse ring. She read books, followed the directions for maintaining the nesting sites, and spent hours behind her binoculars watching and waiting. Her obsession led to many years of her giving and receiving bluebird-related greeting cards, gifts, and trinkets.

Bluebird book - gift from Janet Crump to Carol and Mara Bryner - paper cover made by Carol and Mara

Bluebird book – gift from Janet Crump to Carol and Mara Bryner – paper cover made by Carol and Mara

On a June day in 1992, my mom, my daughter Mara, and I drove to Cheshire, Connecticut to watch a “bluebird banding.” In a letter to a friend I wrote about that event:

June 23, 1992 – “I had wanted to draw a bluebird house. But the day got away from me. We were busy all day. Went at 12:30 to see a man band baby bluebirds – they are trying to bring bluebirds back to this area. We each held one (5 altogether) until he put them back into the nest. What a beautiful spot it was.” – Carol Crump Bryner

Bluebird banding, summer 1992

Bluebird banding, summer 1992

Determined to raise as many bluebird families as possible, my mother waged a one-woman war against the English sparrows. She was unabashedly anti-immigration as far as this bird species was concerned. Through her we got excited about the nest building, suffered through the waiting and hoping and watching, and then all too often received sad news about the dramatic destruction of the bluebirds’ nest, eggs, and babies.

When I was on Whirlwind Hill this spring I didn’t see a single bluebird. But after I left, my brother cleaned out one of the old nesting boxes, and shortly after that a bluebird family moved in. They built their nest, laid their eggs, and now it’s my brother’s turn to be the watcher. He tells me that Mr. Bluebird sits on top of the house all day long, guarding his potential offspring. We wish him well and hope that the children will come back year after year with their songs of happiness.

"View from the back yard - Whirlwind Hill," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and pencil, 1992

“View from the back yard – Whirlwind Hill,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache and pencil, 1992


Update – Climbing the Three Notches

On a recent April Saturday afternoon I set out in the company of my brother Kirt, my cousin Dean, and Dean’s wife Jean, to climb the mountain ridge that we call the “Three Notches.” We wanted to follow the paths our ancestors used long ago, and we also hoped to find some marks left on a rock at the highest point of the ridge.

In a 1944 letter to his future wife Betty, my mother’s cousin, Austin Norton wrote:

“When I was a kid I used to be crazy to go out to Mother’s home [his mother was my great-aunt Ellen, my grandfather Ellsworth’s sister] and help them hay and milk. I would ride my bicycle out there every Saturday just to get in the way and watch. That must be a satisfying way of life, farming I mean…There is a range of hills beyond the farm which we love to climb for a picnic lunch…Our favorite spot on the range is called “Three Notches,” and on the highest notch, Mother’s dad [my great-grandfather William E. Hall] has his name chipped into the rock. That’s the highest point of land in Wallingford and you can see for miles around, Long Island Sound on one side and Hartford, the capital on the other.” – Austin Hart Norton

Since last March, when we first heard about the carving, my brother and I were, as Austin put it, “crazy” to go search for it. These mountains (which in Alaska would be called hills) are part of the trap-rock Metacomet Ridge that stretches from New Haven, Connecticut to the Vermont-Massachusetts border. We decided to start our hike at the south end of Fowler Mountain, just east of Whirlwind Hill, and follow the Mettabesett trail to the base of the first of the three peaks. When I asked my brother how far a walk this would be he said “Not that far.”

"Not that far!" - A view of the Three Notches and Fowler Mountain.

“Not that far!” – A view of the Three Notches and Fowler Mountain.

My brother had never climbed the “Three Notches.” He’d ridden a horse on Fowler Mountain back in the 1970’s when the old cabin used to be there. Dean had gone more recently, and agreed to guide us on this sunny, windy afternoon.

Determined to go on this hike despite a bad cold and a worse fear of ticks, I sprayed myself with a ridiculous amount of “Deep Woods Off” and hoped for the best. The trail, although steep and treacherous in places with loose rocks and branches hidden under deep layers of leaves, was wide and sun-dappled and easy to follow.

Starting up the trail

Starting up the trail

I was thrilled to come upon patch after patch of wildflowers.

First were the adder’s tongues –

Adder's tongue (or trout lily)

Adder’s tongue (or trout lily)

Then rue anemone and bloodroot –

Rue anemone

Rue anemone

And just as I was telling Jean about hepaticas and how hard they were to find these days, I looked down and saw a small army of the bright little flowers popping out from under brown leaves. Joy!



A cabin used to stand somewhere on the ridge of Fowler Mountain. My brother and Dean looked for signs of this former refuge, but there wasn’t enough time for a thorough search. This was proving to be a much longer walk than I had planned on, and “not that far” had begun to seem like wishful thinking. I could see on my phone map we were still a long way from the Three Notches.

But at the end of Fowler Mountain we came across an old marker for the George Washington Trail. Although the plaque itself was gone (most of the metal plaques on these markers have long ago been spirited away by vandals), the post was enough to show us the place where our first president and our early Hall ancestors crossed the Metacomet Ridge on their way from Wallingford to Durham. It ran perpendicular to our trail up the ridge, and someday we’d like to explore it more thoroughly.

George Washington Trail marker post

George Washington Trail marker post

Ahead of us was another steep incline, which I hoped was the ascent to the first notch, but in a “Bear Goes over the Mountain” scenario, we found yet an even steeper climb on the other side. I was ready to quit, but Dean prodded, “Come on Carol – It’s worth it.”

Getting closer

Getting closer

It WAS worth it. The view was spectacular. To our left we could see Whirlwind Hill and the view beyond to New Haven and Long Island Sound. To the right we looked at Meriden, Hartford, and on toward Massachusetts.

The view from the notch - looking toward Whirlwind Hill and beyond to Long Island Sound.

The view from the notch – looking toward Whirlwind Hill and beyond to Long Island Sound.

And then my brother said, “Here’s the name!” He found our treasure. On an outcropping of rock overlooking the Ulbrich Reservoir, were letters and numbers carved into the rock’s surface.

Kirt with the carved rock

Kirt with the carved rock

My great-grandfather’s name, W. E Hall,  was still there – a one-hundred and thirty-year-old memento of his wish to be immortalized on this spot. The carved date of 1874 indicates he was probably thirty-seven years old when he chipped away at the hard rock.

Set in stone

Set in stone

Happy and satisfied with our findings, we took photos of each other before beginning the long trek back to our car.

Kirt and Carol

Kirt and Carol

It was so quiet up there – a peaceful solitude that’s hard to find these days. We could understand why this spot was a favorite for our relatives, and we plan to go back whenever we can. It cheers me now to have a focus for those mountains beyond Whirlwind Hill. The distant view is more meaningful because of knowing where to look  – at a spot on that high windy rock where part of my family history is set in stone.

"The Three Notches,"  Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2014

“The Three Notches,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2014



A View of the Farm

The Barnyard cropped

I worried off and on this year that I was spending too much time in the past with my long ago relatives. But now that I’m stepping away from it for a while I feel even closer to the farm on Whirlwind Hill and to all the ghosts that kept me company while I wrote, painted, and researched.

Distance, as painters know, can make a painting come together. When you step back to take a look at what you’ve done, all those individual brush strokes suddenly coalesce and the image takes on its own life. What you thought were many little pieces become a complete view.

But there are many different views of the farm on Whirlwind Hill. I’ve written about happy times, good memories, tragedies, and successes. I’ve deliberately left out family quarrels, hard feelings, crop failures, and the stormy times that are an integral part of a long family history. I prefer a more cheerful slant, and chose the moments that worked to carry history into the present and give it an encouraging future.

Because this is my last regular post I’ll close with some painted views of the farm. The farm lives on for me as a feeling – a feeling and a memory of a place that embraced me and still connects me and my brother and cousins to the ancestors who loved and sheltered and protected us.  I send out a huge thanks to all of you who followed my musings and encouraged me this year. I’ve enjoyed every minute of this project and every chance I’ve had to learn more about my readers.

Here is the painting of the farm by Mary E. Hart that hung in the farmhouse parlor. It was probably done around 1860-1870.

Oil painting of the Hall farm done by Mary E. Hart around 1860 as it hung in the farmhouse parlor in 1932.

Oil painting of the Hall farm done by Mary E. Hart around 1860 as it hung in the farmhouse parlor in 1932.

A hundred years later, my mother, Janet Hall Crump, made a copy of Mary’s painting and passed the copy on to me.

"The Hall Farm," Janet Hall Crump, oil on canvas board, around 1960, after a painting by Mary E. Hart

“The Hall Farm,” Janet Hall Crump, oil on canvas board, around 1960, after a painting by Mary E. Hart

She – my mother – was my touchstone for farm memories and the source of endless stories about the family. She gave me not only her love for her childhood home, but also her sense of humor and her appreciation of painting and art. Thanks Mom!

Carol and Janet Crump on Whirlwind Hill, 1947

Carol and Janet Crump on Whirlwind Hill, 1947

In 1998, for my brother Kirt’s birthday, I made him a copy of my mother’s copy of Mary E. Hart’s painting. It always pleases me that the Hall barns were once painted yellow and the house and picket fence a classic white.

"The Hall Farm," Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 1998, after a painting by Janet Hall Crump

“The Hall Farm,” Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 1998, after a painting by Janet Hall Crump

In 1985 I painted my own view of the farm, as I knew it during my childhood when the house had brown shingles and the barn had two silos. Because this is a monoprint, the image is backwards, but no less real to me.

"A View of the Farm," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint, 1985

“A View of the Farm,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint, 1985

In the end it doesn’t matter which is the “true” memory or the “real” view, because when I’m on Whirlwind Hill, I’m always home.


Lydia Jane’s Birthday



My great-grandmother, Lydia Jane Hart Hall, was born in the Hart family homestead in Durham, Connecticut on March 22, 1841.

"The Original Hart Home," Mary E. Hart, oil on canvas, reproduced in black and white

“The Original Hart Home,” Mary E. Hart, oil on canvas, reproduced in black and white

Lydia has kept me company for the past few years as I immersed myself in her journals and in other stories about the farm on Whirlwind Hill. I have come to admire and love Lydia’s perceptive and quiet way of observing the world around her. To celebrate her birthday I’ll let the elegance of her own words speak for her.

The first piece is a 1912 letter she wrote to her mother, Lydia Reed Hart, who was unable to be with her daughter on her birthday. The second is her diary entry from her eightieth birthday on March 22, 1921.

When I refer to her in “On Whirlwind Hill,” I call her Lydia, but those closest to her called her Jane.

Lydia Jane Hart Hall with her first grandson, William Cannon, 1897

Lydia Jane Hart Hall with her first grandson, William Cannon, 1897

March 22, 1912

My dear Mother,

The twenty-second day of March, and you well know what happened seventy-one years ago. I think the blue birds are not singing as much this morning as Father said they were then. These years that have passed –  many seem short to both of us to look back, but long to look ahead.

The years of my childhood, the years spent with you and father, John and Walter, in the old home, are very very peasant to recall. Your tender watchful care, and all the years of my married life when we could have your presence with us, the many times your loving fingers have helped me over rough places. All these things and more than tongue can tell leads my heart to go out to you with much love and affection. I hope you are feeling well. I wanted to come and see you today, but couldn’t…

When it comes a little warmer and the traveling gets better, I am in hopes to come over and spend a night with you. Hope you will keep well and be careful not to fall. Keep warm. Hope you may not have any cold…

William joins with me in love to you. Also Ellsworth.

Your loving daughter,


March 22, 1921 – “Not quite as warm this morn. Bluebirds and robins singing. Spring is really here. The yards are looking green. This is my birthday. Eighty years have passed with its joys and sorrows. I have loved my home and my friends. My family with my husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are very near and dear to me. May God bless them and keep them.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Happy Birthday Lydia Jane!

"Bluebirds for Lydia Jane," Carol Crump Bryner, watercolor and gouache, 2015

“Bluebirds for Lydia Jane,” Carol Crump Bryner, watercolor and gouache, 2015

On Wednesday:  Spring Cleaning

Easter Cards for Agnes

Last November I shared some of the birthday cards sent to my grandmother Agnes Hall by her childhood Sunday school teacher. There was some discussion at the time about his motivation in painting and sending Agnes these cards over many years.

But that was the era when post cards, greeting cards, and hand-painted scenes were a form of entertainment both for the person making the object and for the recipient. It was a time when Beatrix Potter was painting the pictures we’re so familiar with today.

Maybe Mr. Hulbert knew that my grandmother would save the cards he made, and that someday they’d influence others in the family to communicate using pen, pencil, paint, and brush.

Here are two of Agnes’ Easter cards. One of them is made like a little book, so I’ll post each page separately. I’m especially fond of the page with the hepatica and the singing bird. My mother and I went each spring onto the mountainside near the reservoir to search for the spring hepatica. They were hard to spot under the brown leaves and twigs, but their purple-blue petals were a joy to find. I now have a sharp-lobed hepatica growing in my garden in Alaska, and it reminds me of those spring searches with my mother.

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1900

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1900

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 1

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 1

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 2

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 2

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 3

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 3

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 4

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 4

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 5

Easter Card, J. O. Hulbert, 1902, page 5

On Monday:  Lydia Jane’s Birthday