Friday, October 26, 2012

Quote of the Day (Henry Seidel Canby, on the Brandywine)

“All rivers seem personal by comparison with plains, or even mountains…The most personal are those which fall and twist and slide from noisy rapid to quiet pool, and follow, like a living creature, the contours of the land. They change from year to year…When you get to know such a river, you will note new cuts into grassy banks, new channels through meadowlands, a maple bending further down until its branches ripple the current, a sycamore dropped into a pool, its roots parched, its arms a hiding place for fish instead of birds. And, on the banks, sun and Quaker ladies where there had been shade, or shade and beds of Brandywine bluebells where there had been sun.”— Henry Seidel Canby, The Brandywine, illustrated by Andrew Wyeth (1941)

Sorry, I’m not ready--psychologically, at least--for Frankenstorm.

You see, I’m just back from a five-day vacation in the Brandywine Valley. I found that even the affectionate reminiscence here from Henry Seidel Canby (1878-1961) — the once-influential, now half-forgotten interwar critic and editor of Saturday Review of Literature and first editor-in-chief of Book-of-the-Month Club—doesn’t give a full idea of all that the stream and its surrounding rolling countryside has meant for generations of farmers, millers, soldiers, writers, artists, and all those employed in the du Pont industrial empire.

Ansel Adams preferred majestic landscapes, and the photos I intend to post on this site from my trip—starting with this one today, taken from the trail next to the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa.—can furnish only the most limited idea of this corner of southeast Pennsylvania and upper Delaware. No, you’d need a Thoreau of the camera, someone acutely attuned to the quiet charms of a stretch of earth like this as redolent as any I can think of a particular kind of natural beauty in this country.

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