Sunday, March 22, 2015

the sweeting they required

Elliott is just finishing up a research project on Grandma Moses.  We have a number of books about her out from the library right now, including a book of black and white prints of her art, titled Grandma Moses American Primitive, with an introduction written by Louis Bromfield, published in 1946.  

draft of Grandma Moses' portrait, by Elliott

About six or seven years ago I began hearing from friends living near Williamstown, Massachusetts, stories about a wonderful old woman who lived on a farm and painted pictures which she sold along with the jams and preserves she "put up" during the summer.  She was, they said, prouder of her preserves than of her pictures and when she was asked the prices of her painting she countered with a question "what size do you want?"  The price depended on the size.
from the Introduction, by Louis Bromfield

The prints in the book are mostly in black and white, but I love the hand written comments from Grandma Moses on the facing page of each print.  Detailing a bit about what she is depicting in each print.

...had to depend on maple sugar and honey for all the sweeting that they required.  

It's March 22, 2015.  Maine Maple Sunday.  It is only our third year of collecting sap and boiling it down into syrup here at this home.  And every year, and every boiling is a little bit different.  Different taste, different color.  And different methods of boiling down the sap and different hands involved in the process as well.

Homemade, handmade sweeting.  

from Grandma Moses, My Life's History

Our honey supply has actually held out through this winter.  With still a bit more to go.  And now, we add our first two quarts of syrup from our first boil.  And though we clearly do not have to depend on our syrup and our honey for our sweetness these days, it has quickly become a tradition that we all depend upon.  It's our form of art, making things from here.  And we value it by size as well.

Bringing in the Maple Syrup by Grandma Moses, 1939

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