Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Song of Spring, 1946; watercolor on paper, 24 5/8 x 28 3/4 inches; Private Collection
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, March 21, 1946
Saturday, March 21, 2020
To country east of Bowen Rd, Park first on Bowen Rd and walk eastward to explore swamp.
The pussy willow bushes fully out, and a soft silvery gray — up against the sky & sunlit, they had a smoky quality.
In the swamp here the air warm. – flies & various insets – the little pool shrill with peepers.
[Burchfield bracketed the next 4 paragraphs with red pencil.]
[The open field. Bluebird calling – Like the hepatica, I cannot fully grasp the beauty of this creature. Visions of my boyhood, of raw yellow banks, of blue & white clay – He was a shy fellow, & I could never get as close to him as I wished, but several times I caught his color against the dark of a bush or tree.
Discover that Hall Road comes thru here. Down it to Bowen – Discover a pond full of peepers, & decide to paint it. The cows breaking out of pasture.
Drive back & after a hasty lunch, set up my easel, and then discovered I had forgotten my paints & brushes. Leaving the easel stand I hurried home & was back again in twenty minutes.
All afternoon on the sketch. The peepers were so numerous & vociferous that my ears fairly rang. I tried to put this into the picture.]
Finish about four — to Hemstreet Rd; but get little feeling from it — by now it is hazy – the landscape here a tired tawdry look – Home by 5:00.
So sleepy I can barely keep up.
Have been reading again in “Wind in the Willows” Altho about animals, there is more humanity in this beautiful story, than in many “human” books so called. He gives the animals human traits without on the least detracting from their animal natures; and in addition, there is the setting of the natural world. Kenneth Grahame, I would like to have known you!
[Burchfield bracketed the next paragraph with red pencil.]
[After I had finished painting this afternoon – I crossed over the fence to look at the pond more closely. The piping stopped instantly on my near approach, and by the time I had circled the pond, all was still, except for the subdued noises from more distant pools. A few green & black leopard frogs scurried to safety in the pond’s depths. I thought, as I squatted on my heels, and gazed in the warm amber colored water with its teeming life, that if one could but read it aright, this little watery world would hold the whole secret of the universe. At least, I had the feeling I was gazing into infinity, in the water’s depths. All the usual early Spring life was ardent here — caddie worms incased in their crude homes of twigs, moving jerkily over the pond’s miry floor — countless tiny creatures, with bodies no larger than, and most not as large as, a pin-head, restlessly swimming to and fro. No doubt there was some real purpose in their movements, but it seemed as if indulged in their sheer ecstasy borne of the warm sunshine. The surface of the water was cut by tiny swirling ripples of restless whirl-i-gig beetles, their highly polished shells gleaming in the sun — At times they flew up momentarily into the air, or again, they would dive below the water’s surface. Truly marvelous creatures, at home in the air, and on the water’s surface, and it its depths.]
Charles E. Burchfield, March 21, 1946