Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), For the Beauty of the Earth, 1959; watercolor on paper, 33 x 44 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives
Charles Burchfield, Journals, July 20, 1959
Sunday, July 20, 2014
July 20, Mon.
Slept until noon!
PM Bertha and I for a drive below Springville and west of East Otto.
A glorious day full of beautiful sights and impressions it seems impossible to put them down rationally.
It was raining when we started out; the sky overcast and to the south whither we were heading, we could see that a huge thunderstorm was in progress. As we drove further south we ran into heavy torrential rain, and we arrived in the Boston Valley just after the storm had passed, leaving in its wake, fallen telegraph poles that lay halfway across the road. Traffic was jammed, and a detour by way of the Back Creek Rd. ordered by the troopers. Instead of taking the Creek road we went upland to the Zimmerman road, and then to the Trevett Rd. by way of Wagner Rd., and then over the Moore Rd. to Genesee Rd.
The country to the east was beautiful; the sky torn and ragged after the storm, a mass of white wind-clouds just shining above the Cole Road Hill; and beyond that to the southeast the horizon glowing with long bans of cloud blurred by distant sunshine further away.
North of Springville, we took the new 219 Rte. Road. Here we again run into heavy rain so dense we could hardly see the road. Many cars had pulled to the side to sit out the storm, but we went on, assuming ourselves there was little danger, since there were neither poles or trees near the road. Once a brilliant, almost colorless bolt of lightning went from the zenith to the ground [unintelligible word] across the distant hills and seeming to split them in two –
Just north of Ashford Hollow, we took East Otto road westward. At the first crossroad, just beyond the New York Conservation Dam, we noted that the Cannistairarley [sp?] Road name had been changed to Comiasoirauley [neither of these road names appear on current maps].
West of East Otto, we headed for the Grange Hall on the Otto-Zoar Valley Road. Just after we turned north a fine gothic house that oddly enough I had not noticed on previous visits; a flock of dainty goldfinches in a hayfield.
I approached the Grange Hall fearful that some modernist vandal might have cut down the beautiful locusts surrounding it. But my fears were groundless, all the trees were intact, but I should have known it would be so in all the country south and west of Springville, there is not one new house. It is not that it is a “poverty-stricken” area, it just seems as if the farmers and small-town natives find it quite easy not to live in ranch houses. Here we are able to go back fifty years or more in time (except for automobiles)
We parked by the side of the road and stayed here a while savoring the flavor of the spot. A fresh soft breeze from the west, the sky shaggy with cloud mists, the sun trying to break through. Tiny [unintelligible word] plants gone to seed along the road-edge – Bladder campion – I made a mental plans to do another painting of the locusts, this time a tall picture – a field of fleabane to the north, densely white.
Westward to visit the spot where three years ago in September I painted the “Cicada-Song in September” (Braasche’s). Then I had noted many orchid plants, and had always wanted to come back at this time of blooming (I counted 35 plants). There were not as many plants, but what there were just beginning to bloom. (The same variety I have at home.)
Neither of us could see the “Cicada-Song in September” in this spot but of course it was it was a state of mind and a mood.
On the return we stopped a moment again at the Grange Hall. Here we noticed a strange hissing sound close to the car – we could not find its source, and finally concluded it might be the echoing of a hay-cutting machine in operation in the field close by.
By now the sun was shining in the west, flooding the great wide valley or flats to the east with golden light – I said to Bertha that the land there could easily be the “Promised Land” and she agreed.
Just before we got to East Otto we discovered the source of the hissing sound. A “thump-thump-thump” told us we had a flat tire. I stopped a motorist leaving the village and he told us where we could get it fixed, and said he thought we could make it to the garage.
While the garage owner (who had considered rather diffidently to mend the tire)was about his work, we got into a conversation with an elderly man who was sitting on a bench in front of the garage – we asked him about a restaurant east of the town famous for its good food. He said it was closed on Monday and advised us to try a new restaurant in Ashford Hollow. Talking with him made the time pass pleasantly and quickly. He said he used to commute between East-Otto and Williamsville (weekends at the former) by way of 18b or Union Rd. The peace and quite of the village was soothing.
The first restaurant we passed at Ashford Hollow, was closed, and besides was not the new one. The one we wanted was a smaller one “The Country Kitchen” – Here we had an excellent meal. T-bone steaks with fried onions, summer squash, fried potatoes, tossed salad with Loretto cheese salad-dressing, homemade peach pie ala-mode & coffee –
The drive home in the levelling sunlight was pleasant .
I called Mart when we got home – she said Sally had called her and said that she had been trying to reach us all day. So I tried to call her. On the first attempt, Artie answered the phone. He said Sally was in Westfield and that Red was asleep. He was bubbling over with his enjoyment of, and the success of his Boy Scout camping experience (next year he is to be an assistant advisor and will only have to pay half as much, & the following year if he is made a councilor he will paid to stay there). Sally called later, and we settled on Friday AM for our visit there.
A good letter from Dr. Braasch.
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, July 20, 1959