Roots give you something to stand on…


Why Traditions? Because I said so that’s why! No, really ..traditions reinforce; tradition works.

Have you ever been a bystander, a guest of another family – viewing a family tradition? Kinda lonely right? Tradition reinforces who we are; who our families are…it doesn’t matter who you ARE individually, you’re family…

….the hilarious uncle, odd cousins, senile grandparents, or eccentric Aunt, when a reason arises for the a family get together; we are all welcomed back into the fold despite past disagreements, Thanksgiving is such a time.

Generation after generation has gathered together to celebrate and gives thanks…a tradition that has been around for a LONG time (well, in relative terms; this is a young Country after-all).

Roots give you something to stand on. They give you an identity that you can be proud of.

Traditions are tried and true…with the onslaught of commercialism; and “gotta’ have it mentality so prevalent at the holidays it’s easy to lose track of the reason they exist. It is about family and friends. Without family, all the material and money in the world wouldn’t mean much.

Getting together as family during holidays, celebrations, and life’s milestones is second-nature, a custom, a way of life…a tradition, and traditions evoke a deep seated emotional response, a connection to our past and our present. This is why tradition works.

Tradition is about creating a refuge, a comfortable haven, away from the world. It’s all about putting some meaning behind life’s steps. No matter how much you’ve done in your life, how many miles are on your frequent flyer account, how rich you are, or how powerful, tradition will always be bigger than you are.

Be well,
Jess

Did you stay ~ while I was away…


Well, hello there! Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard.

We needed to escape…leave our worries and cares behind. We hopped on a ferry and in just a 45-minutes  from Woods Hole on Cape Cod, the Vineyard with its serene features, pristine sandy beaches, sand dunes and oodles and oodles of natural beauty waited.

Heading out to the other side(southerly) of the Island we left much of the commercial tourist traps behind (though not entirely). A few shops owned by the native people could supply needed trinkets and souvenirs.
Getting there was relatively stress free; an economical, convenient bus service from Oaks Bluffs ~ “Up Island” to the rural community of Aquinnah, formerly known as Gay Head,home to the Wampanoag**.

Once there we found the dramatic, color-streaked Aquinnah Cliffs. Walking along the narrow path of scrub bushes, down to the rocky shore is one of the most beautiful walks you will ever take. If you choose to, you can walk to the right toward the clay cliffs… you will encounter Jungle Beach, clothing optional. (oh, Dear)

Driving back through the winding country roads, many with stone fences and lush vegetation, reminded me of rural Ireland.


The cliffs are cherished by the Wampanoag tribe, who love to tell people about the importance of the cliffs to the tribe, and how they feature prominently in their spirituality and myths.

In 1997, the town changed its name to Aquinnah, which is Wampanoag for “land under the hill.”

MOSHUP TRAIL was completed in 1958 and follows the south shore across the dunes to an exit near the lighthouse. So important is Moshup that the main Aquinnah town road along the shore has been named after him. When Moshup envisioned Europeans coming to his fishing grounds, he is said to have left Aquinnah. He then changed his children into killer whales, turned his pets into stone, and with his wife Squant walked down the beach to disappear behind Zack’s Cliffs. Fog today is attributed to the smoke of Moshup’s peudelee (pipe). Cries heard off the south side during a storm are said to be Squant calling to her lost children.

The Cliffs are ecologically protected, and it is forbidden to climb the cliffs or even touch the clay.

THE AQUINNAH CLIFFS are one hundred and fifty feet of sediment – including red and white clays, green sands, white quartz, black organic soil, and lignite. They tell the story of the past hundred million years one colorful layer at a time.

The streaks of red in the Cliff are from the blood of whales that Moshup would drag onto the Cliffs to cook. The discarded remains from his table are now fossilized deep in the clay. To the Wampanoag, the Aquinnah Cliffs are a sacred spot for the very reason that Moshup chose this special place as his home – they are a watchful place of great bounties.

The ocean is a rare aqua color here, and the waves are quite high.

**The ancestors of Wampanoag people have lived for at least 10,000 years at Aquinnah (Gay Head) and throughout the island of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard), pursuing a traditional economy based on fishing and agriculture. The Aquinnah Wampanoag share the belief that the giant Moshup created Noepe and the neighboring islands, taught our people how to fish and to catch whales, and still presides over our destinies. Our beliefs and a hundred million years of history are imprinted in the colorful clay cliffs of Aquinnah.


As we boarded the ferry for our ride back to the mainland, a beautiful, bright full move eased out from its cover of clouds…the photo taken without flash, I think gives the best feeling and likeness of the night. We were tired and content.

I hope you are well,
Jess

Have you ever…?


Have you ever just taken a drive, to see where the road takes you? As we meandered about on the back roads of Greenwhich; a hamlet near to our home.

We stopped by a local ice cream shop; drove through the town center and headed west. As we rounded a bend in the road along the Battenkill River, we came upon some local history ~ in the shape of a painted brick colonial home…

A few miles west of East Greenwich, also on the banks of the Batten Kill, is the hamlet of Battenville.

The home where Susan B. Anthony [the woman suffrage movement who's motto was,"Men their rights and nothing more, women their rights and nothing less] spent part of her formative years has since been restored, as has the adjoining building which served as a tavern and stagecoach stop.

I am sure it was restored, but it seems to have fallen back into disrepair. An abandoned bit of historical architecture…

This area was also important to the underground Railroad; The abolition of slavery was a cause that many local people were actively involved in. Dr. Hiram Corliss guided the movement in Greenwich. His son, George Corliss, was the inventor of the Corliss Steam Engine. Legend has it;an important station of the Underground Railway to Canada was located in Greenwich.

The Battenville area was used during parts of the filming of The Horse Whisperers.

We had to stop to get this fella headed in the right direction…

In researching this homestead, I found the info here: Greenwich, NY.

Where are you headed? Have you ever…?

Be well,
Jessica

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day


Beannachtam na Femle Padraig ~ Go mbeannaí Dia duit
Happy Saint Patrick's Day and May God Bless You.

Go raibh tú daibhir i mí-áidh
Agus saibhir i mbeannachtaí
Go mall ag déanamh namhaid, go luath a déanamh carad,
Ach saibhir nó daibhir, go mall nó go luath,
Nach raibh ach áthas agat
Ón lá seo amach.

May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies,
quick to make friends,
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.

My Grandfather’s family was from County Mayo, Francis McHale – he was Scotch Irish.
Do you have Irish Lineage? Where from?

Be well
Jess

3 of my favorite things…one of them is a herd.


I was reading http://thesimplecountrylife.com where she was talking about her favorite things and the beautiful photos of them; so, I got to thinking…
What are my favorite things and can I choose just three? hmmm…probably not!

Let’s see…my very most favorite thing is my collection of photo albums…some from when my ancestors were babies, then children, soldiers in the civil war and others, first time parents, then Grand parents, only 2 photos of me as a child)…my children and their friends, and activities through out their lives. I don’t know how they could ever be replaced. I should really have them copied and saved on my hard drive.

Then probably an old ( very old) Bible, this is from the 1600’s with baptisms, marriages, children born, illnesses and deaths all recorded. The first recording, Deaem John Birdseye, born in Reading,Berkshire, England in 1616. Funny thing about this..there are 10 Katherine Jennette’s …Birdseye, Ledger, Burr, and McHale (my Gramma)…them my Mother was the last. I could read the entries for hours, there are notes written on “promises of material goods ~ written in the late 1700’s…and an insurance company letter head from the 1800’s. From what I can discern, they came to Connecticut in the late 1600..very Early settlers. Thaddeus Burr, was Aaron Burr’s Uncle, we won’t go into his sorted past.

My 3rd~ish most favorite thing is my collection of animals, 14 llamas ( not to be confused with alpacas) 2 dogs, Riley cat, and a flock of 10 birds ( 4 ducks, 6 chickens).

And finally, tea… can’t live with out it. Earl Grey please, and often. It soothes my soul, smooths out bumps in the road, warmed my children’s rumbly tumblies , they often had a cup of tea after school and it is their go to beverage of choice to this day. (Well, Justin might be an exception).

My favorite movie, just in case you were wondering..Sound of Music. I saw it 3 times at the Theater in Manchester, NH in early 1966 I think.

A Few of my Favorite Things
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Through the years...

Gramma ( Katherine Jennette Burr - McHale) and her childhood dog Trixie

Kindergarten Picture..oh boy, Gramma and I shared a love of Robert Frost and Auburn hair.

Burr Family Bible

A hand written note remnant

The first page...with repairs

one of the entries...

Riley cat

Lexington..sweetest girl ever...and biggest bed hog


She now weighs in at 100+ lbs. Still just as cute.

Finn, need I say more.

Llamas…a few.

Little Andy with Jenn

Malokai such a love.

Phantom of the opera...

Andrew joining the girls for lunch.

one of my favorite photos.

and other farm critters.

2 of the ducks...

A silkie chicken, how's that for a hair style?

Sophie, a Rhode Island Red.

I call him Mr. Nasty...this could be an entire blog. Let's just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

What are your top 3 favorite things?

PS, I am still on the search for my husband’s Perfect gift; heading to Upland Outfitters, perhaps some sheepskin seat covers? To keep his toushy nice and warm…toasty buns!

Be Well,
Jess