Charles E. Burchfield in his own words Share Tweet

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Mist Phantoms at Dawn, 1960; watercolor with charcoal on joined paper mounted on board, 33 x 40 inches; Private Collections (Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives)

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Mist Phantoms at Dawn, 1960; watercolor with charcoal on joined paper mounted on board, 33 x 40 inches; Private Collections (Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives)

Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, July 4, 1914

Monday, July 4, 2016


Arise at 4:00 in anticipation of fishing trip. All the time we are dressing & eating robins sing profusely.

The start is made.

Heavy fog envelopes the whole earth. Coming along at pine­hollow our first sight of the sun is the golden spot its rays make in the fog.

we soon see the sun himself, a rose gold glow in the sky. One of the most beautiful things about a fog is that it eliminates the horizon. The sky melts into white mists at our feet.

The road-side is foam flecked with dew-whitened spiderwebs. Competition here must be keen. A meadowlark’s whistle coming from out of the fog, is pleasing.

A fog is one of the most harmonizing elements in nature. 

Our clothing becomes white. The fog, beginning to solidify, falls as a fine spray slanted by a delicate breeze.

The sun makes slight headway and disappears altogether at times.

We leave road at bridge one mile north of Albany. The other three start to fish. I go in search of raspberries.

Thimbleweeds - both white and yellow varieties - are in bloom & going to seed. The teasel-like heads, sprayed with dew attract the eye as much as the flowers themselves.

Bobwhites, chewinks, redwings and songsparrows commence to sing.

Bah-ing of sheep & lowing of cows fill the air.

The sun soon dispels the fog tho distant objects still appear in a flat mass of opaque blue green.

Picking berries along road. Something satisfying in sight of them. Each black glittering berry is beautiful in itself but it beauty is greatly enhanced when laced over with dewy spiderwebs.

 Webs of orb-weavers hang limp.

 While engaged in picking berries discover small nest with four tiny eggs in it. While irregularly brown splotched. Hear alarm note of bird. It proves to be a species of sparrow. Fearing that harm might come to the eggs by being exposed on such a damp morning I leave the place so mother bird can return.

Hear song of indigo bird and see him on wire. His blue shows darker against blue of sky.

While stooping low, discover a fine bed of violets. The leaves are extraordinarily large and in perfect condition & form a neat compact mass.

Hear bluebird. Redbird sings constantly. Crows. The air is full of bird calls. Flicher calls.

One of the charms of nature is its unexpectedness. We do not know at what moment we may chance upon some interesting part of a wild creature’s life. While picking the harsh cry of a bird of a bird in flight caused me to look up and I beheld a sharp- skinned hawk pursued by a kingbird. They disappeared in the woods to the south. Presently kingbird comes back, no doubt deciding that his chase was doomed to failure.

The fog may be said to have completely vanished when the insects commence to fly. Meadow fritilaries & flies are on the wing. Leaves are aglitter.

Enter woodland pasture south of road. Come upon red elder bush. The berries are ripe and are beautiful.

A fine hollow here - wide and with gently sloping fern-covered banks.

Elm covered with seed clusters that look like hops.

Odd gall formation found on elm leaves. One tree is covered them. On opening them I found them to contain countless aphid-like flies on the “walls” of the gall, the center being filled with a bluish white cottony substance.

 Round gall on ground myrtle found to be similar to oak gall. Contained a small white larva.


Strike north. Mullein - sturdy plants! -  in bloom.

Also Milkweed - their scent is most pleasant. Has just enough of a trace of bitterness to agree well.

Poke are in bloom.

The grove ideal - free of underbrush. A swamp in one corner overgrown with tall bushy ferns.

 Nuthatches cries fill the air.

 A cool breeze flows and from somewhere comes the sound of a cowbell.

Ironwood has gone to seed.

Leave woods for open meadow and proceed northward in search of creek.

Meadow resplendent in myriad wild-morning glories in full bloom - they climb goldenrods. Beard grass & ragweed contend for supremacy of ground.

Bunches of yarrow.

Brown pink of beard grass beautiful. Farther north fleabane predominates and whitens the meadow.

Beauty of heads of timothy hay against pink masses of beard grass.

Come to creek.

Sand bars. Finely laced with footprints of birds.

Blue Vervain commencing to bloom.

Moth mullein flowers have climbed well towards top of stems.

Scent of milkweed fills the air. Peculiarity of milkweed long-horn in dropping when an alien being approaches. The swallow-tailed skippers on mudweed. Butterflyweed commencing to bloom.

 A gigantic buttonwood deserves mention. Trunk massive and is mottled beautifully at base with lichens. Higher up mottled by its own constantly peeling bark. The mottled trunk agrees well with the foliage.

 Blueeyed grass in bloom. A reflection of the sky.

 Dinner - fried fish and westerners.

Pack up and go to beech camping grounds. Arrive at two o’clock. The day has become warm but is fresh.

Visit to frog-pond. Very nearly dried up and has a scraggly air.

 Hours spent in lazing around. I take off shoes & stockings. Like meeting an old friend  lie  around. Sometimes lie flat on back staring up into sky. Kingfisher flies into hole in bank. I attribute them to swa­llows a few weeks ago.

Summer is in full swing. Birdsongs are desultory.

Evening comes on with no event to note. Supper of cold pork & beans.

Camp left at 9:00. Fireflies not so numerous. Hear whip-poor-will but once.

Charles E. Burchfield, Saturday July 4, 1914