Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Untitled [Arrowhead], 1912; watercolor and graphite on paper, 12 3/16 x 6 1/8 inches; The Charles Rand Penney Collection of Work by Charles E. Burchfield, 1994
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, February 25, 1912
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
As I advanced towards the Bridge, many field sparrows and goldfinches flew up and ahead, the finches uttering the same little cries. Finally they all assembled in an appletree at the edge of the swamp, watching my approach in half curiousity and trepidation. As I came up, the sparrows loathe to leave the swamp flew up and overhead back to where they were at first. The gold finches however - and what dainty birds they are in winter – flew up and away in a flock, their rising and falling flight reminded one of so much chaff blown helter-skelter by the wind.
At the Bridge I stopped at the south opening in its side, and sat down, directly above the stream. Below was the turbulent muddy colored creek, sparkling in the sunshine. Pieces of water-soaked ice floated swiftly past, occasionally striking against the banks with a crash. How like Spring it seemed! The sun, now nearing the meridian beat down extraordinarily warm, and yet the day was not dead like some warm days at this time of year; a warm fresh breeze was blowing and the sky was a deep spotless blue. Heat waves were dancing on the side of the bridge, which seemed strangely to accord with the dancing reflection of the water on the top of the roof. A delicate blue haze lurked in the woods and hills that extended everywhere.
Once a small insect floated lazily past, lured forth by the warm sun. I always take a great deal of interest in the first insect, which later I do not even notice. From the hill behind the Bottom Road came the rasping call of a guinea-hen, which always has a springy sound to me.
A distant freight train whistled, and then a great yearning to do something came over me - what to do I did not know, but I believe at the slightest provocation I would have jumped in the creek, whose steady onward flow, and sparkling had a fascination for me. A Songsparrow began to sing somewhere, and its sweet tone awakened me from the stupur I had fallen into. I got up and left the bridge. At each end of the bridge the great stone foundations jutted up into the air; on one of these I stood a few moments, irresolute. I did not know where to go - whether north along the creek, thru East Beaver Woods, or south along the creeks in the fields and swamps, or east to the Rosemeadow country, or whether to go at all. Each course had an equal fascination and consequently I could not choose. What I really wanted to do was to stand there indefinately and contemplate on what I should do. It was in the air; - in the warm sunshine that was beating down on the grassy fields, grey woods and muddy roads; it was in the soft cooling breeze; in the blue haze that stole hither and thither seeming to have a liking especially for the woods; in the strain of the songsparrow; - it was everywhere, this indefinable and intangible yearning feeling; every stick and stone, every bush, every decaying log or stump, bathed in sunshine, every ripple of the stream, every gurgle, and every crash of ice, all these awoke it.
Charles E. Burchfield, February 25, 1912