Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Tracing of The August North, 1917; pencil on paper, 25 x 18 inches; Courtesy of the DC Moore Gallery, New York
Charles E. Burchfield, Autograph signed letter to J. J. Lankes, postmarked September 5, 1928
Saturday, September 5, 2015
. . . I was in Ohio. Add to that the fact that at my wife's home a re-union was being held—36 descendants in all, you can imagine the up-roar. Well we were glad to get back to—even Gardenville. I can imagine how this village must look to you after Virginia. Yes, it sometimes seems terrible even to me, who am supposed to love the ugly (but only "supposed") and yet again when I am in the right mood I can forget I am in Gardenville or any definite place & then things are not so bad.
I'll admit Ohio seemed great to me, and all the old homesick desires re-awakened in me. What I lack here in Gardenville, is a sense of direction. There is no east west south north. But in Ohio, where I was born, all these directions have a powerful mystical meaning. An August "North" at night-time is overpowering in its awfulness, to mention only one of them. Then there is north-east in November, East in December, South-east in February & September, South in January and March, South-west in March, West in May, and North-west in June & July, all these have peculiar meanings that stir anew in me every time I go there, and here they mean little or nothing. West is Buffalo, South is the round-house, east is East Ave, and north is Orchard Ave, and that ends it. It may seem a childish fancy but I can't get it out of my system. One night down there about midnight my wife and I walked out & up the lane. A wonderful vastness & isolation. The sky fairly bristled with stars. No smoke or other haze to obscure them. The Milky Way seems almost like a cloud. And I saw a star in the northeast the closest to the horizon I ever saw one. It was just above & that is all. That shows the clarity of the air.
Back here I tell myself my Ohio episode is closed & in time I convince myself, until such time as I wander back again & am torn asunder again. . . .
Charles E. Burchfield, September 5, 1928