Bright and Sunny is the Landscape this Morning

1932, May 19 10 A.M.
Bright and sunny is the landscape this morning. The apple blossoms lend sweet incense to the air. The lilacs, not quite out, dot the bushes with deep wine color amongst the clean new green foliage. The willows fringe the river with green. The mountains across the valley standing in majesty with white caps of snow on their brows. And hazy clouds throw flying shadows over their undulating sides. The scattered pines and spruce and cedar appear like cattle on a thousand hills. The bluffs below the bench of foothills are mute evidence of a prehistoric lake.

The valley is dotted with ranches. Showing busy farmers seeding their fields, now bare, or irrigating the green new alfalfa meadows.

In the garden I planted carrots and lettuce in long rows guided by a line stretched from side to side. It was like hewing to the line when men laboriously hewed stone and wood for the builders. Children of today do not know of this art. And lost to them are many of handicrafts of 50 or 100 years ago. Machinery has made new work for their hands.

Ida Woodworth McKee.

In May 1932, Ida Woodworth McKee would have been in her seventy second year. She lived to within 10 months of her 100th birthday. She outlived two of her eleven children and her good hearted but ne’er-do-well husband. She spent more than half of her life in the Valley she describes in this vignette.

She aspired to be a writer and, in her last thirty years, produced at least three manuscripts, including a compilation of her father’s Civil War letters. Her problem, in the twentieth century, was a bad case of sentimentality and 19th century propriety. For example, the typescript of her father’s letters is heavily redacted to remove the mildest “damn,” but found justification in his mid-nineteenth Ohio attitude that the war he was fighting was “for the Union, not the n. . . .”

Still and all, I find this piece she wrote on that May morning, while mildly romantic, to be a lovely description of the Valley when it was still country and not a tourist destination.

Although not strictly rus in urbe, still it is as close as can be expected for a Valley whose garden has become an suburban desolation.

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