Monday, November 23, 2015

Family Farm back in print

Family Farm: Haiku for a Place of Moons is again available! The 1999 first edition has been out of print for several years. Reprinting at first looked overwhelming. The original press had closed without saving plates, and it seemed impossible to reproduce Shirley Horn’s outstanding illustrations.

Years pass and technology changes. Thanks to the cooperation and generosity of many people, beautiful copies are once again available to purchase at the Lulu and Amazon online retailers.

This collection of over 300 haiku follows the seasonal cycle of life on a New England dairy farm. It is divided into thirteen parts - the twelve months and Christmas - with each part bearing a Native American name for that month's Moon. 30 black-and-white illustrations.

Available from

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vanishing Moon

Lunar eclipse photographed through a telescope from Woodslawn Farm on November 9, 2003. Photo by Dave & Stephanie Purington.
I wrote these haiku and perhaps 20 more in November 2003, when Dave, Stephanie, Katy, and Elizabeth gave me running commentary on the event, which I did occasionally see for myself through a carefully-positioned-and-held mirror. From what I remember, a total lunar eclipse is definitely worth staying up late for. Probably even more so when it's a supermoon.

Vanishing Moon

On pale grass
the blackness of my shadow
full moon

Disappearing moon –
my eyes find one star
then a thousand

we whisper
into the stillness

Total eclipse
the color of the night

Vanished moon
no conversation on the hillside
where owls talk

cold air touches me
all over

Returning light
the wind that touches my cheek
again only cold

Fragrance of coffee
in the warm kitchen
window moon

[Schedule for the supermoon lunar eclipse of Sept. 27 to 28, 2015,  including description of the stages. Precise local viewing times here.]

A full moon rises over the eastern horizon in this photo taken from Woodslawn Farm by Herbert Purington, circa 1972

A bright sliver of the moon (not an eclipse) seen from Stuart, FL in, 2015. Photo by Nancy Purington.

September 27, 2015 lunar eclipse photo taken from Rutland, MA by Jim:  "About 11 pm, a few minutes after the max. Perfect viewing conditions."

Moon watchers, Colrain, MA, September 27, 2015, around 10 pm

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Haiku

The same tree --
a second nesting of robins
learns the same songs

Summer reunion –
chasing  up and down
the family tree

Faded photograph
I stare back
at my grandfather's blind gaze

Clouds again today
a single morning glory
the color of sky

Daylily garden
the orange tail of the cat
wanders here and there

Night of falling stars
candles on the birthday cake
refuse to blow out
A long ago Purington/Call Reunion  - summer of 1948. Herbert is on the far right. In front of him is his father George, and sitting with George is Herbert and Barbara's first child, Marion, born in November, 1946.(Click photo to enlarge. The original photo is 2"x3".)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Herbert & Bunny, 1924-1946

Woodslawn Farm - Some Family History
Part Four
Herbert & Bunny, 1924 - 1946
(click here to read the story)

To Our Family and Other Readers

Our parents have never gifted us with long tales about their childhoods. It’s not their style to tell detailed stories complete with plot, emotion, or moral. That’s not how they communicate. But over decades they have given out much information about those early years, and a decade or more ago I started collecting these scraps.

Eventually the computer file grew to an impressive size; eventually I decided to turn bits and pieces of the past into a narrative – the document you have before you. Much of the material came from my own or my siblings’ memories of events mentioned to us as we were growing up. Answers to direct questions added new insights. Research, in family documents and online sources, was also fun and enlightening.

We don’t claim that this is the complete story. A casual conversation or a rediscovered photograph may add more information. But it’s the story we have to tell today, March 25, 2015.

This story is as accurate as my collaborators and I could make it. Every time you plow a field you find new rocks. We realize that we may have provided more details about certain topics than some readers will enjoy, and you are welcome to skip paragraphs or pages.

Perhaps one day an illustrated edition will become available, with dozens or hundreds of wonderful family photographs. Perhaps.

I have had much generous and creative assistance with this project, and I give heartfelt thanks to all who helped in so many ways. I never would have finished this work of love without them!

Carol Purington and Co-editors

Click this link to read Herbert & Bunny, 1924 –1946 online or to download a pdf copy (1Mb file.)

PS In case you’re wondering why the title page reads “Woodslawn Farm – Some Family
History, Part Four,” here is the complete list of my proposed family history series.

Part One – Puringtons from England to New England, 1634 –1786
Part Two – Puringtons in Colrain, 1786 –1900
Part Three – George & Agnes & Children, 1900 –1953 – completed
Part Four – Herbert & Bunny, 1924 –1946 – completed
Part Five – Herbert & Bunny & Children

Another fascinating and fun perspective on family history is given in Richard Purington’s
Memories from the Farm, ‘30s & ‘40s. I recommend it!

Newspaper clipping of Herbert and Bunny's January 27, 1946 wedding announcement.
See Appendix C on page 31 of the story for the full text.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Early Spring

March 2015
From the root-cellar
the last of the winter squash
still succulent
the poem you wrote recalling
a grandmother's hearty soup

Sap drip-drips
from the grandmother maple –
the tin pail
my six-year-old hung,
how slowly it fills

Mud season –
in tux and stiletto heels
we admire
our convertible
stuck in moonlight

so slowly into thawing soil
all those tales
inherited by a sleepy girl

Through fog
the weightless light
of apple blossoms
a white-throated sparrow
calls me deeper

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Memories from the Farm, 30's & 40's

Richard Purington has shared some memories about growing up on Woodslawn Farm in the 1930's and 1940.

Page 1 of Memories from the Farm, 30's and 40's may be read below. The entire 22 page document may be read or downloaded here

A slide show of scanned family photos from the 1930's and 1940's

Memories from the Farm, 30's and 40's
by Richard Purington

Spring 2014

House and barn

The buildings were continuous (New England farm style) from the house to the woodshed to the icehouse, then an old outhouse with three holes, which we never used because we had a flush toilet indoors by then. Then the buildings turned ninety degrees and there were two carriage sheds going out to where Bunny’s clothesline is now. There is nothing left now past the woodshed.

This east-facing section was used for sheltering wagons and other farm equipment. There was an icehouse in the northwest corner section of this structure, at the west end of the woodshed. Cousin Ellen Purington Miller remembers ice being cut from Uncle Reuben's pond, the Wilson Homestead pond, to be stored in this icehouse and others.

When Walt was not very big, he climbed pretty far up a maple tree, one just west of the old carriage shed, what is now near the doghouse by the clothesline. He got up all right but couldn't get back down. I think it was Roland Mather, a cousin of Agnes’ born in 1907, who climbed up and retrieved him.

In the old farmhouse, before Herbert put in the heating system, cooking and heating were done by the wood stove in the kitchen and the wood hot air furnace in the cellar. It had a large register in the living room and on a cold morning it was one of the two places to get warm. The other was next to the kitchen stove with your back against the hot water tank and one foot up on the ledge by the ash pan.

The water tank was copper, about 16" round and five feet tall. It stood upright close beside the stove and had a piping loop that ran thru the firebox. Water was heated there and circulated back to the storage tank. This, plus a teakettle on the stove, provided hot water for baths and dishes.

At some time we acquired some darts and had a target on the kitchen door. I mis-aimed once and put a dart in the thin copper tank. While attempts were made to patch it, I think it always had a slow leak after that.

The upstairs rooms had no heat. Those in the back were especially cold. I slept in the Northeast corner room and if water was left in a glass, it was ice by morning. Soapstones or flat irons were heated on the wood stove and wrapped in towels to take to bed for warming. We had a little dog named Henry who used to go upstairs with me. He sat on the bed and scratched while I got ready for bed. Then he went under the cover and right to the foot of the bed, serving as a foot warmer all night. In the morning he came out and resumed his scratching while I got dressed.

Download the document to read more sections:
Farm Work 
Relatives, Neighbors, and Friends 
The Wilson Hill School 
Fun on the Farm 
Fun off the Farm 
High School 
Memorable Times