Thursday, May 29, 2014

Around Longwood Gardens . . .

On a warm and not too humid sunny day, we set off for Longwood Gardens, about a 30 minute drive from Philadelphia. We spent the afternoon (and wished we had more time), first wandering through a few of the 20 outdoor gardens in this over 1,000 acre complex . . . 

Longwood Gardens (Camp 2014)

Then to the Wisteria garden . . . 

Wisteria Garden, Longwood (Camp 2014)

On to the Conservatories, an additional 20 inside gardens . . . 

Pools of water at Longwood (Camp 2014)

These are called Tower of Jewels (Camp 2014)
Everywhere we looked, we saw these stately, formal gardens with a profusion of flowers, shrubs, and trees. I cannot imagine living in such a place, surrounded by old wealth and riches. And yet, DuPont made these gardens available to the public and included funding so this gift would be permanently accessible. 

Despite the numbers of people visiting here each day, we found many spots to simply appreciate the beauty of the plantings. From large to small, all these gardens are inspirational. I hope the folks who lived here originally found comfort here.

From the desert gardens, a close-up of Neoregelia: 

To see more pics of this memorable trip to Longwood Gardens, go HERE.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

On the road in 1850 . . .

I'm reading The Overland Journals of William and Charles Frush this week as background for my next book.

William Frush begins his journal with this cryptic entry dated May 15, 1850: "Left my family and home near Newark, Knox County, Missouri for California on one horse with the expectation of overtaking on route my brother with teem, John H. Frush."

The following entries are peppered with detailed road descriptions for those who might follow. Frush doesn't mention his brother again, but he continued west with a 40 pound pack, joining up with small groups, sometimes folks on horseback, sometimes wagon trains. He notes good meals, an occasional fight, Indians encountered, and graves spotted. Occasionally he sends letters home.

By December 14, he reaches Portland in Oregon Territory and settles there. Between the lines, I read great perseverance and admire his sheer stamina as well as his gift for understatement.

Frush consistently camps upstream from popular stopping places, perhaps because the water near popular camping spots was a source of dysentery and cholera -- two killers along the trail. 

On reaching the River Platte, After leaving Fort Laramie, conditions for those traveling in wagons worsened. Emigrants cut their wagons down or burned them. Grass was poor, and the trail ahead littered with dead stock and graves. Frush reports one man died of "the colera," leaving behind a wife and 7 children. What must it have been like for such a woman?

From the Missouri River to Oregon is roughly 2,000 miles. Frush made this journey in 8 months. 

The first Fort Laramie as it looked prior to 1840. Painting from memory by Alfred Jacob Miller
Source: Wikipedia