Selections from Kuerner Farm October 2015 - June 2016
On Friday morning we eagerly returned to Chadds Ford. As we so enjoyed doing in October, we again had the opportunity to spend a day exploring Kuerner Farm - the land and its buildings - immortalized in thousands of sketches and paintings created by artist Andrew Wyeth.
For more than 70 years, the Kuerner Farm was a major source of inspiration to Andrew Wyeth. In the people, the early 19th-century farmhouse and the red barn that dominates the property, Wyeth found intriguing subjects for hundreds of tempera paintings, watercolors and drawings. Wyeth discovered Karl and Anna Kuerner’s farm on one of his boyhood walks. The Kuerners, German immigrants who settled in Chadds Ford after World War I, fascinated the artist. Over time, he developed a complex relationship with the family and the farmscape, aspects of which he explored in many of his best-known works of art ( Brandywine River Museum of Art ).
We'd watched the weather all week long and our worst fears were realized: a forecast of cold and drizzle. When we arrived at the Brandywine the caravan to Ring Road had already begun snaking out of the parking lot. We fell in line and in a short time, found ourselves turning into Kuerner's lane. We have been looking forward to returning to the Farm since the fall, and so we each had our own agenda. Michael was prepared to work on new paintings, while Benjamin wished to complete the watercolor he'd begun in October.
I hoped to explore more of the meadow but was disappointed to see the fence has been repaired, limiting access to visitors. Instead, I walked along the pond and found myself in the woods overlooking the orchard. By that time it had begun raining steadily and Benjamin and I stopped under a stand of pines; to our delight, we discovered the ground in that spot bone dry. So when the rain slowed, we returned to the van to collect a drop cloth, his field bag and painting box...and he set up beneath the pines at the top of the orchard. Michael was painting below him along the fence-row.
As I plodded downhill through the knee-high wet grass I was grateful I'd chosen to forego keeping any sense of fashion, instead choosing to wear my garden boots. The bluebirds that had been singing in the woods seemed to follow alongside me as I walked, stopping occasionally to photograph buttercups and the flaky bits of pale green lichen I'd find growing on sticks and twigs. I strolled along the pond and started for the woods. As I ascended the hill again I caught Benjamin's eye and he was waving for me to return. He was clutching his little blue, second-hand Golden Guide to Birds. When I arrived at the edge of his drop cloth he excitedly described the experience of watching a pair of titmice that had alighted on the fence behind where he was painting. "They were singing their hearts out," he exclaimed, grinning. It was cloudy and cold and when I left him along the treeline...he was stretching out, hoping his pant legs might dry while he sat beneath the pines. He'd forgotten all those discomforts the moment a pair of birds began to sing.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. (Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl)
As much as I would have liked to explore the grounds unhampered by cold and drizzle, there is something about visiting Kuerner Farm that always allows me to experience the most magical relationships. Flowering lichen growing on a fence post. Bluebirds feeding their nestlings. A seemingly fresh carpet of pine needles (no matter the day or season). Each visit allows me the opportunity to silently witness relationships between the natural world and those passing through it. As always, I am eager to return soon.