Charles E. Burchfield in his own words Share Tweet

Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, June 23, 1929

Saturday, June 1, 2019

After four daughters, Bertha Burchfield gave birth to a son, Charles Arthur, on June 1, 1929.  As was customary at the time, his father was jubilant to have a son.  Among his earliest impressions, Charles Burchfield associates his joy with the earth’s fecundity just after Summer Solstice:

Yesterday the summer Solstice, but for several days before and after it always seems like the actual day.

Hot, humid weather — a feeling of the perpetual steaming days of half rain & sunlight & rank vegetation that are supposed to be characteristic of the early days of this planet — I feel strongly the glory and power of full-blooded life.

(a huge yellow butterfly just lit on some purple canterbury bells in the yard next door)

I sit here by the window of my little attic almost too full of happiness to write about it – a warm moist breeze comes in at times, bringing with it a multitude of sounds – the various noises of the roundhouse a mile away – bells, a sharp whistle, escaping steam — a steamboat from the Buffalo Harbor booms deeply—blackbird's calls — a short while ago the air was full of white blinding rain, — the earth now stands hushed – stagnant — plants drooping — the earth reeking —

I think of my new son — my first boy – only three weeks old – it seems incredible he is a boy – it is just a baby –

The day he was born – when I went east along the road to get Edna — [unidentified person, possibly a babysitter] the first light of dawn coming thru bar-like openings in the northeast sky — to the southeast it was yet night – the waning moon making a splotch of light in the clouds above the creek –that was in deep black shadow —

Then later, when he, a couple minutes old, was placed in a basket just below me, he opened his eyes — and I was full of idiotic pride and exaltation because he was a boy —

Then later – when Bertha & he were brought home – and the little girls stood about in awed delight —

The dense clover back of my studio fills the air with rich odor — life is incredible.

The way to get the most out of life is to confine ourselves to a few simple things, so that we can absorb them thoroughly – I had the happy thought this morning of making a sunflower bed in front of my studio — when I was transplanting them I found one with an odd leaf — in a field of them I would never notice it – but among a few that I handle carefully, it becomes an individual —

Since we have bought this place it makes a difference — I like to think of it as a little community — a narrow strip of land – 33 x 450) in which the lesser creatures & insects belong as much as we do – Besides my wife & I, and our little children there are the hoptoads, and snails and angleworms – and visiting robins, starlings, sparrows, and grackles, and there aren’t so many but that they become familiar, and seem as if they might have names — they attain significance because the earth that supports them is ours – –

—Charles E. Burchfield, June 23, 1929