Litchfield County Sketches

By Newell Meeker Calhoun

Litchfield County University Club

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White Roses and Clover Blooms

HOW true it is, as Mr. Beecher once said, that men do not feed entirely through their mouths! Eyes, ears and souls must all the time be fed, if the life is to be a healthful one. The dweller amid such beauties as our beloved county affords may indeed feed the highest in him, if he only will. There is hardly a home that has not its hardy roses, and clover fields are everywhere, while apple and cherry blooms in their season make the landscape beautiful and the world delightsorne. Familiar odors that awaken holiest memories float in the air on the June morning, wafted from the old white rose bush, standing by the well-worn threshold of the door through which childhood’s feet often passed. M7e see again a dear face bending over us, to give a parting kiss, along with a rose from the nearby bush. We hear again a voice—was it not the sweetest in the *orld to us ?— bidding us good-bye, as we started off with dinner pail to the old red school house by the mountain. Ah, what pictures the fragrance of rose and syringa brings before the mind, and how the eyes moisten as we behold them! We see it all again—the old gray house with low slanting roof, the well-sweep which brought up the coldest water to quench our thirst, the great barn with the swallows darting in and out, the orchard stretching down the slope with cool, inviting shadows, and the sunset’s light upon the distant hilltops. We see again the wide-stretching clover fields, the delight of our boyhood, so aptly described by Sidney Lanier:

“Up the sky
The hesitating moon slow trembles on, -
Faint as a new-washed soul but lately up
From out a buried body. Far about,
A hundred slopes in hundred fantasies
Most ravishingly run, so smooth of curve
That I but seem to see the fluent plain
Rise toward a rain of clover-blooms, as lakes
Pout gentle mounds of plashment up to meet
Big shower-drops. Now the little winds as bees
Bowing the blooms come wandering where I lie
Mixt soul and body with the clover tufts,
Light on my spirit, give from wing and thigh
Rich pollens and divine sweet irritants
To every nerve, and freshly make report
Of inmost Nature’s secret inborn thought
Unto some soul of sense within my frame
That owns each cognizance of the outlying five,
And sees,. hears, tastes, smells, touches, all in one.”

There is certainly a blessed gospel in these sweet perfumes, distilled in Nature’s laboratory. What would the world be without them, we often ask. We might well query what men and women would be without them. As children they fed upon daisy banks and clover fields. Their chubby hands held a bunch of “posies” almost as soon as the proverbial rattle. They early began to love sweet odors from flower blooms. Nothing is more common than to see a child with his nose deep in amongst the flower petals, like some bright golden-throated humming bird. These are recording certain impressions upon heart and brain. The eye is being trained to love the beautiful and hate the ugly. The perfume of white roses and clover blooms is stencilling certain truths upon the inmost soul. The memory works through the nose, as well as through the eyes and ears. Thus the gospel of the gentle and the innocent is preached by these angels with veri-colored wings. That gospel will not soon be forgotten, even in the midst of the world’s sin and confusion of tongues.

The child who is to be an author ought to spend the days of childhood in the atmosphere of books, they tell us. The boy or girl who is to be an artist should live amongst the famous pictures of the creators of the Golden Age of Art, and amid the grandest works of God. These associations are formative of tastes, appetites and aptitudes. They hang the soul’s halls and chambers with beautiful pictures, and line its walls with books. How much more, when you would produce a man or woman of fine mould and pure life, in touch with all the best things, swayed by the memories of flowers and birds and sweet and subtile odors, ought you to bring the child up with rose gardens, clover fields and cherry blossoms. These things must pull strongly on the cords of the heart, and keep many a man and woman from the baser life, when temptations are strong upon them. Such surroundings help in making character, but are not necessarily saviors of men. We should, however, learn to use them for just what they are worth, and no more.

The clover blooms, like the swan’s song, are the sweetest in death. Behold the clover field when the mowers have laid the white and crimson heads low on a Summer morning! The bees went down with them, and still continue to search for honey, buzzing about amongst the stalks. As the sun mounts higher, the boy comes whistling afield, and tosses the clover blooms with his fork, spreading them evenly over the meadow. Now the air is full of sweetest and most bewitching odors. Blended with the fragrance of the newly mown hay, the scent of the clover blooms seems intensified, as that of rose leaves in the rose jar. At evening time it fills the old barn, is breathed out through the wide open doors, and clings to one’s garments, as he takes a refreshing drink at the old well. The delicious fragrance of the flowers and the newmown hay is as free as the air, for all the air is laden with it. You need not own the field or plant the rose bushes, but may enjoy your neighbor’s if you will. Blessed is the man, however, who plants rose bushes in his garden and sows clover in his fields for the bees and men. To make the world more beautiful is to help in making characters more beautiful.

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