Archive for April, 2012

April 26, 2012 |  by  |  No Comments

     A photograph of a Sassafras tree Edith and I planted at Weather Hill.

April 24, 2012 |  by  |  No Comments

Paraphrasing Eric Sloane, a Canadian cold front that leaves high pressure in it’s wake is indeed a “broom” which sweeps the atmosphere clean.  This morning dawned crisp and cold, the air clean and refreshing.   After our morning walk and school lessons, Edith and I set out a number of Sassafrass trees along the old hedge row.

Sassafrass is an endearing tree.  Edith and I dug our specimens from the tree line of my grandfather’s woods in Massachusetts.  We looked for them last fall – an ideal time both from the perspective of transplantation and because they are easy to spot with their bright yellow/orange foliage.  Sassafrass trees, Eric contends, was America’s first export.  Europeans (and Native Americans) believed that the tree was very special:

“The smell and taste of Sassafrass is unlike any other spice, and legend has it that the odor alone will keep away sickness and evil, as well as vermin.  Spoons were often made of Sassafrass wood, cradles were inlaid with it, noggins of Sassafrass added extra flavor to a drink, and Bible boxes were made of wood to keep away evil spirits.  It was said that a ship with sufficient Sassafrass wood in her hull would never be wrecked.” – Eric Sloane  A Reverence for Wood, p. 92.

The scent of the Sassafrass is delightful – the roots, bark, and even the leaves impart a delightful odor, quite unlike those of other spices.  We marvel at the small leaves that have recently emerged from buds.  The trees, now about 16″ tall each, to my mind look almost like small Christmas trees with tiny mittens suitable for wood sprites hanging from each limb.  I think the Sassafrass is the only tree with three distinctly shaped leaves, but when the tree is young, all three distinct leaf shapes appear to be as tiny mittens.

We think that perhaps this coming autumn we will be able to collect a small bit a bark and root to brew some Sassafrass tea or root beer – a pleasant thought as the sun shines warm but the wind from the north tells us that winter has not completely relinquished her control…


April 22, 2012 |  by  |  No Comments

     Please take care when selecting someone to clean your Eric Sloane painting.  This past week I was dismayed to see a third painting in just this year that was damaged significantly by a well intentioned painting restorer.

Is it a good idea to have an Eric Sloane original cleaned?  Yes, if it needs it.  Eric Sloane paintings that have hung in a smoking household, or in a household that burns any fossil fuel, should have a periodic cleaning.  A good, professional cleaning will remove only those contaminants on the surface of the painting that will eventually eat into the paint if not properly removed.  There are several reasons why it is so difficult to clean Eric’s paintings, not the least of which was that Eric thinned his paints with leaded gasoline.  The approaches and procedures normally employed with other artist’s works simply do not apply when it comes to Eric Sloane originals.

Even if you choose not to use us for your cleaning and restorative work, we want you to be informed.  Make sure that whomever you choose knows Eric Sloane’s works and that he or she has several years experience cleaning Eric Sloane paintings specifically.   A professional cleaning will not only add value to the work, but you will be amazed at just how much better the painting will look when finished!

April 22, 2012 |  by  |  No Comments

Today was spent with my six year old daughter, Edith, setting out the other half of our orchard.  While Eric probably would have suggested Westfield Seek-No-Furthers as the appropriate choice for an orchard, Edith and I opted for the hearty hybrid of Honey Crisp.  If you haven’t tasted one of these, you are in for a real treat when you do.  We also planted some Red Haven peaches, so we now have a nice mix of apples and peaches in the field directly in front of our barn.

Spring, and in a light rain, I think, is a wonderful time to work.  The surrounding hillsides are tinged with various colors that  reminds me pleasantly of fall.  The sound of the brook swelling with the new rain is a pleasant sound.  I have considered creating a series of recordings of sounds one might have heard in 18th and 19th century America.  Eric wrote often of sounds and smells and how we have lost some (and some forever) in the ensuing generations.  Perhaps I will include my babbling brook, perhaps an Amish friend will run his wagon through the covered bridge down the road for me to record, perhaps I will record the sound of a broad axe shaping a beam…but for now, the rain is coming on a bit stronger and it is time to go inside, take off our wet coats, stoke the wood stove, and have some tea.

A bored Eric Sloane…

April 22, 2012 |  by  |  No Comments

Prior to our luncheon engagement at the Fife ‘N Drum Restaurant last Friday, one of our members told the following story about Eric, which we all found charming.  Our member friend had been invited by Eric to lunch at the Dutch Treat Club in New York City.  As was typical, there was a speaker during lunch.  Apparently, this speaker did not, in actuality, capture the attention of his audience.  Our friend saw that Eric was becoming noticeably bored with the speaker or his topic (or perhaps both) and then saw Eric do something curious.  Eric grabbed a lunch plate, took out the felt pen he nearly always carried, and began to sketch something in the room.  At the conclusion of the lunch and the speech, Eric walked over to another man in the audience, handed him the plate, and said “Here – this is what you looked like while you were listening to that guy!”.  Priceless….

Please Join the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum

April 17, 2012 |  by  |  No Comments

I’m happy to report that we had a productive and robust meeting last Friday at the Fife ‘N Drum Restaurant in Kent, Connecticut.  If you have never been, the Fife ‘N Drum is a wonderful eatery in downtown Kent and was a constant favorite of Eric’s through the years.  The restaurant houses a collection of works by Eric and by David Armstrong.  The food and service was superb.

Our focus group consists of a number of leading thinkers about, and admirers of, Eric Sloane and his legacy.  We had a wonderful conversation, topped off by a private tour of the museum by museum curator Barbara Russ.

We are actively seeking members to join the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum as well as donations in support of our activities and programming.  Currently, we are also offering a lifetime charter membership for the first 100 Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum.  Please email James Mauch at or call 570-204-2906 for more information.

My heartfelt thanks to all who have helped to make this friends group a reality.  We are working together to help to make the museum more vibrant and to share the message and legacy of Eric Sloane with a new generation of admirers.

Initial Meeting of the Friends Group

April 9, 2012 |  by  |  No Comments

The Friends of the Eric Sloane Group will be meeting in Connecticut this Friday, April 13th, to discuss the role that our group can play in supporting the work of the Sloane-Stanley Museum.