We first visited Kuerner Farm -- the subject of thousands of Andrew Wyeth paintings and drawings -- in October 2015. The experience stayed with us for many weeks after we returned home. We had an opportunity to visit again in April and again, despite the passing of time and the deterioration of the property (since the Kuerners' and Wyeth's passing) it still felt magical. On that day I sat in the grasses of the orchard and watched a pair of bluebirds feeding their young.
This most recent visit held some of that same magic; now the setting feels familiar. It has become customary for us to contemplate how we will spend our time there weeks in advance and upon our arrival, we roam the property and immediately settle into our distinct routines. I understand fully how the property and its inhabitants came to mean so much to Wyeth. I detect small changes in the landscape and observe seasonal adaptations of the flora and fauna sharing the property. Every inch of it is alive!
In April, the Canada geese proved a rather boisterous presence on the pond. This time, I heard (nor saw) a single goose. Instead, the steady jug-o-rum vocalization of a bullfrog could be heard resonating from the reeds. In April, matchstick lichen bloomed on fence posts but when I returned to observe it again, it had dried and now lacked its vibrant red color. In early spring, I witnessed little insect diversity. Now, in early June, my patience and willingness to trudge through 4' tall grasses was justly rewarded...I discovered Thistle Seedhead weevils, ladybird beetles, hover flies, grasshoppers, and a striking Ebony Jewelwing broad-winged damselfly.
Bluebirds and barn swallows were omnipresent, but the familiar crows and black vultures (who usually greet us by perching on the Kuerner's rooftop) were no where to be found. Flowers dotted the orchard and the meadow around the pond but it was the corn poppies I discovered growing by the spillway that caught my eye and would not permit me to forget them -- I returned again and again throughout the day, taking dozens of photos of them despite the rain.
When we were first given the opportunity to visit Kuerner Farm it felt as if we had been invited to step into an Andrew Wyeth painting. We've since acknowledged the Kuerner Farm of 2016 is significantly altered from even the most recent of Wyeth's paintings inspired by the place. We now see the landscape through our own eyes. Incapable of viewing the house from a favored angle, restricted from exploring an enclosed meadow or overgrown pasture, we are often coaxed to investigate areas of the property that were not idealized in the paintings and sketches of the property's most ardent visitor. In doing so we are nurturing our own relationship with the land and its [current] inhabitants.
Given the spring-house at Kuerner Farm is currently undergoing renovations (thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and the Brandywine Conservancy is protecting the pond, and of course, the farm's designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2011, it appears as if the property will continue to inspire visitors for many years to come.