For those of you folk who like all things vintage and worn…who enjoy gazing at antiques while a certain Je ne sais quoi ripples through your being…who just feel more comfortable around things of a bygone age…
Do you know why? What is it about connecting the past with your present that draws you like moth to flame?
When one is at Camp, there really is no need to go anywhere else, except perhaps to the grocery for…well let’s be honest here…donut holes, or to the creamery for ice cream, or…er…there’s a pattern here. Anyway, one becomes loathe to leave. You are much too busy holding stock still to get that dragonfly to land on you because it almost did a second ago, or watching the little fish approach your toes with curiousity, or lying in the sun with your daughter while the earth beneath wafts up the most incredible aromatherapy. In other words, you can’t be bothered.
But then, after a while, you’ve counted all the new mushrooms that arose during the night and you’ve already gone swimming twice this morning and the chipmunks are taking a siesta and you haven’t taken a shower in about 5 days. So you clean yourself up a bit and head down the road to Willowbrook to experience The Way Life Used to Be.
You take a left at Moussam lake and go through Shapleigh Corner.
Within 20 minutes you are in the little town of Newfield.
And you have also arrived to a pocket in time. Two adjoining homesteads and their barns, plus a schoolhouse have all been preserved in the name of capturing a moment of history, when mechanization came to the rural towns, but life was still communal, rustic and slow.
Also, when candy was a penny each and pickles lived in barrels. (We came here every summer as a kid, and I would go home with bags of strawberry candy and taffy and rock candy and peppermint sticks. I was disappointed to discover that while the museum has improved its grounds and exhibits, the penny candy now consists of skittles.)
Then around the top of the barn to that revolutionary invention of the 1800s…the bicycle.
Woefully, the barns had low light and it was hard to get depth of field, so there is so much I couldn’t quite capture. But when it’s too snowy for bicycles, you must turn to other methods of transportation.
(Hey Brigit, I think this the sleigh that the White Witch rides around Humboldt making it always winter and never summer?)
Moose drawn cart. (source)
I am not naively romantic. There are many aspects of the past that I am thankful we are evolving away from. At least a little bit. Unfortunately, not as much as I would like. The Maine woods were flush with wildlife of the small and luxuriously furry kind. In less than 50 years, the forests were stripped and now I feel lucky if I see a weasel.
When I was in town buying “No Hunting” signs to put on our property, an eccentric farmer was standing in line behind me. He said, “I put up no huntin’ signs all on the back of my woods. The huntahs just ignored ’em. So then I put up signs with a bunch of weird symbols and words in Chinese, and now they’re too scared to step foot on my property.”. Ha! (By the way, I know not all hunters are disrespectful. I’m referencing the kind that are.)
Some inventions just make you smile.
Perhaps the most wonderful invention displayed at Willowbrook is their carousel. It is the second oldest in the country, and features horses with human hair tails and an unfortunate minstrel animatron. They cranked up the engine and showed us how it works. We were entranced.
The carousel was featured at the Acton fair in 1909, and it toured around New England for many years, until it broke down and was kept in a barn. The man who ran the carousel had a little boy who never got to ride because his feet didn’t reach the stirrups. It was finally donated to Willowbrook by the son of the original owner, on one condition. That it be completely restored. It took 14 years and the son, now 78 years old, took a ride for the very first time….trying out every single horse.
The carousel engine.
Then we walked to get lunch.
This photo is a nod to Milla’s recent post Dream Boat Annie, about the projected perfectionism of blogs. I was doing a hair swoosh for Jeff…my hair that I hadn’t washed or brushed for a week and a half. But I was feeling pretty in my new dress from FHF. (Was late to the conversation on that post, Milla, but I’ll still comment…I will, I will!)
Waiting for lunch while Fern played the harmonica.
On our way out, we stopped by the school house.
And so friends, to bring us back to the beginning, what is it about vintage that makes you high? I can’t quite put my finger on it for myself, and in a way, I don’t want to. Bring too much rationale to magic and you get science. But one thing this trip made clear for me is how important being connected to the past, to ancestry, to bygone eras is for me. It helps me to feel more grounded, more secure in the world, and part of the web of life. Filaments of DNA like mycelia create a net beneath my feet. I gain support and nourishment, and I experience a physical and a mental relaxation, as if everything suddenly makes sense. For me, the jury is still out on whether or not I believe in reincarnation…but my love for this time period, into the 1930’s, goes beyond aesthetic desire. Sometimes I feel lost in our modern world, a time traveler who got stuck. Places like Willowbrook feel like going home.
Tell me your thoughts?
(Also, don’t worry if you haven’t received an email re: the swap yet. I haven’t sent them out! It’s a top priority, never fear.)