Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day, 2012 (and a reader's personal letter from E.B. White)







Earth Day, 2012



Note:  This entry received this comment, including the reader's personal letter from E.B. White, that is worth highlighting.

This piece on E.B. White in today's Sunday Book Review seems just right for 'Earth Day': http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/books/review/celebrating-60-years-of-charlottes-web.html?_r=1&ref=books

It reminded me of this letter that White sent to my grandfather. By the way, I don't know if, "Sorry to hear that you are a dropout..." refers to a dog owner event or the fact that my grandfather graduated from Yale. Maybe it was just a dig from a Cornell man.

-

E.B. White
North Brooklin, Maine 04661

March 20, 1974

Dear Mr. ________:

Sorry to hear that you are a dropout but am grateful for your letter and glad you can still read. Wish I could still write.

My Norwich Terrier will be seven in May. His Club name is Jaysgreen Rusty (United Kingdom), and he was sired (it says here) by a dog named Hunston Horseradish. He is known in this house as Jones and is seldom found more than six feet from where I am. He is neurotic---scarred as a puppy by being shoved into a crate for a plane trip from England, then another plane trip from Boston to Maine. I think somebody along the way must have hit him with a stick, because even after all these years with me, I can’t pick up a fly swatter without his cringing. I got him from Sylvia Warren, and he almost never made it up out of his bed of neuroses. But he and I are enough alike that we get on well, and I can’t help being touched by his loyalty---which I think in his case is simply insecurity. He would never take a prize at a show. Neither would I, come to think of it.

I have another terrier---a West Highland White, or Off-White, named Susy. She is as open and outgiving as Jones is closed and reserved. Everybody loves Susy. Everybody tries to like Jones. But Jones takes his guard duties seriously and has made several attempts to kill people he thought were intruding. He particularly distrusts women in trousers, drivers of panel trucks, small children, and stray dogs. He has hunted squirrels for six years without bagging one. Susy is quicker than he is and once nabbed a barn swallow on the wing. Sometimes I dream of owning another Norwich---one that looks like a Norwich and behaves like one. But I am known for my outsize dreams. Meantime, I am grateful for small favors, like the little brown one over there on the sofa.

Sincerely,
E.B. White

18 comments:

Southland Trad said...

Happy Earth Day Muffy! Once again, great photos. I grew up on a farm and as I make my way through life I find myself working back towards my father's ideals of the gentleman farmer. You're picture of the young duck (not exactly a duckling) brought back so many great memories. When I was young my parents would hatch eggs in an incubator. When they were ready to hatch my father would make sure I was right there so the ducks and geese would imprint on me. Those fowl would follow me everywhere all summer long. :-)

Kionon said...

Happy Earth Day.

...very nice pink RL OCBD.

Greenfield said...

Hi, Muffy!

Wonderful Earth Day present for me: Finally, some serious rain on my little corner of Planet Earth!

Rain, rain, come again, make the hay-man go away . . . ;)

Anonymous said...

This piece on E.B. White in today's Sunday Book Review seems just right for 'Earth Day':

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/books/review/celebrating-60-years-of-charlottes-web.html?_r=1&ref=books

It reminded me of this letter that White sent to my grandfather. By the way, I don't know if, "Sorry to hear that you are a dropout..." refers to a dog owner event or the fact that my grandfather graduated from Yale. Maybe it was just a dig from a Cornell man.

---

E.B. White
North Brooklin, Maine 04661

March 20, 1974

Dear Mr. ________:

Sorry to hear that you are a dropout but am grateful for your letter and glad you can still read. Wish I could still write.

My Norwich Terrier will be seven in May. His Club name is Jaysgreen Rusty (United Kingdom), and he was sired (it says here) by a dog named Hunston Horseradish. He is known in this house as Jones and is seldom found more than six feet from where I am. He is neurotic---scarred as a puppy by being shoved into a crate for a plane trip from England, then another plane trip from Boston to Maine. I think somebody along the way must have hit him with a stick, because even after all these years with me, I can’t pick up a fly swatter without his cringing. I got him from Sylvia Warren, and he almost never made it up out of his bed of neuroses. But he and I are enough alike that we get on well, and I can’t help being touched by his loyalty---which I think in his case is simply insecurity. He would never take a prize at a show. Neither would I, come to think of it.

I have another terrier---a West Highland White, or Off-White, named Susy. She is as open and outgiving as Jones is closed and reserved. Everybody loves Susy. Everybody tries to like Jones. But Jones takes his guard duties seriously and has made several attempts to kill people he thought were intruding. He particularly distrusts women in trousers, drivers of panel trucks, small children, and stray dogs. He has hunted squirrels for six years without bagging one. Susy is quicker than he is and once nabbed a barn swallow on the wing. Sometimes I dream of owning another Norwich---one that looks like a Norwich and behaves like one. But I am known for my outsize dreams. Meantime, I am grateful for small favors, like the little brown one over there on the sofa.

Sincerely,
E.B. White

Joyce N said...

I love baby creatures!

Bitsy said...

This post and the comment on E.B. White bring a big smile to my face. Thanks!

randc said...

That is just the cutest little duckling...we had a pair of Pekin ducklings that we meant to raise for the eggs but they disappeared one day and never returned. We suspect a cat or fox got them. Love those khakis, mind sharing the brand? :) I have yet to find that "perfect" pair.

Anonymous said...

You make the no-make up look work!

Chris from New Hampshire said...

The E.B. White letter is amazing. Anon, thank you for sharing! I bought the audiorecordings of his reading of CW and TOTS way back when, and I can hear his voice as I read those words. I was so inspired by Muffy's and Homer Zuckerman's salt water farms that I spent today outside, but I didn't make it all the way to Portsmouth.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! I have been looking forward to your gardening posts.

Miss M said...

I want a pet lamb!

HHH said...

Happy Earth Day to the cleanest living girl in New England! You inspire us all, Muffy.

binker said...

Muffy...love the Earth Day post. I look forward to seeing your posts. They bring back memories of a simpler time.

I do have a question for you. You always looks so wonderful in whatever clothes you are wearing. Do you have a specific diet and exercise program you follow? Do you try to use mostly organic? Are there foods that you don't eat? ...and foods that you eat more of? Obviously, all of the walking you do helps to keep you so lean and you glow with total authenticity.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you posted these stories. It seems that the connection with nature and animals is becoming very rare in most circles these days.Our lives revolve around our farm, cats,dogs,and riding and showing ponies and horses along the east coast from canada to southern florida.While growing up most of our friends shared the same passion for the
outdoor life. Wow, things have certainly changed in a few generations.

Patsy said...

How cool is that letter?? I so loved E.B White as a child - a fellow Westchesterite.

And, boy, could his son design the hell out of a boat.

Anonymous said...

Marvelous letter. It's hard not to smile while reading it.

Love your lamb, but I do think you might enjoy a goat. Goats aren't likely as preppy as sheep (is it the wool do you think? Or just the fact they're better behaved?) but they're inquisitive and terribly sweet.

~Eliza

Howie said...

What a charming letter! I've always loved E.B. White and the Blue Hill area. Lots of great wooden boats up that way. E.B. White also spent some time here in Bellport, NY and even wrote a poem about his time spent there.

Royar said...

A very belated Happy Earth Day - the lamb and the ducks are just too cute! XO