Have you run into any Little Free Libraries in your travels? I love these little boxes of delight scattered across the country and I hope to unveil one of my own someday. In 2009, Todd Bol built a tiny one-room schoolhouse for his mother, a teacher and avid reader. He attached it to the top of a post in his front yard in Wisconsin. Then he filled the little building with books and added a sign saying: Free Books. His little schoolhouse received a very positive response with requests for more. Inspired by this and those who came before them in support of free libraries and ‘take a book, leave a book’ collections, Todd and colleague Rick Brooks soon saw the full potential of this worthy enterprise. From this humble beginning there are now over 40,000 Little Free Libraries across the globe. Note the boogie boards used in this little library I came across last week by the ocean. And here’s another pretty one I discovered on Martha’s Vineyard.If you do an online search, you’ll come up with some amazingly creative Little Free Libraries—from gorgeous cottages and castles to giant robots and even Snoopy’s doghouse. What a great method to share millions of books with curbside convenience.There are many ways to go about starting up your own Little Free Library with helpful pages on their website, as well as kits and finished models to purchase. Here is their mission statement: “To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”There’s no need to put a lot of money into it, though. Building your own from wood scraps or using a recycled newspaper dispenser (many newspapers are discontinuing print and getting rid of their old vending boxes) are both economical ways to go. You can still register your library with the organization no matter what your finished product looks like. Once registered, you’ll be added to a map showing all the locations of Little Free Libraries—a fun way to discover if there might be one near where you live. While figuring out this post, I thought it might be fun to design a library inspired by all the sunflowers I blogged about last week. Here’s my attempt:
I had my annual check-up yesterday and discovered my vitamin d was a tad low, so what better way to spend the afternoon than in a huge field of sunflowers!Sunflowers have been around since ancient times, possibly even before corn was cultivated, and they’ve travelled back and forth around the world. Knowledge of their first appearance is from approximately 3000 BC in present-day Arizona and New Mexico by American Indians.
A year or so ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed butter made from sunflower seeds. I’m sure it would make a great alternative to peanut butter for anyone with allergies.
The sunny cheerful flowers have served many purposes over the years, including medicinal, ceremonial, and food, such as grinding up the seeds into flour for cakes, or using the oil for bread. Or simply cracking the seeds open for a quick, healthy snack.
In about 1500, sunflowers were taken to Europe by Spanish explorers, mainly for ornamental use, but they were also developed as medicine. During the 18th century, the sunflower became a very popular cultivated plant and its oil was commercially manufactured to great demand.
Below is Vincent Van Gogh painting his famous sunflowers in 1888, while in turn he is being painted by Paul Gauguin.I came across several artists in the sunflower field yesterday.By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing more than 2 million acres of sunflowers for two main uses–oil production, and human consumption. The Russian sunflower seed made its way into the United States by late 19th century, where the first commercial use was poultry feed.
With the help of humans over the years, the flowers don’t look the same as they once did and their seeds are much larger now. Here’s an easy way to brighten a party table, using little individual snack cakes for the rays. Worked out well for my daughter’s birthday party one year.
The sunflower is the national flower of the Ukraine and the official flower for the state of Kansas. I can’t take credit for this final shot, but wow, what a beauty!Have a sunny day!
Last week I visited the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH and enjoyed a lovely private tour of the two-story typical New England-style white clapboard farmhouse. First you go into the big barn where there is a lot of information and displays, and a video to watch, too. The property is a New Hampshire State Park, as well as a National Historic Landmark. Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963), an American poet and four-time Pulitzer prize winner, lived here with his family from 1900 to 1911. He graduated from Lawrence, MA high school in 1892 and then after a brief time at Dartmouth, he came back to the area to teach 8th grade. Three years after high school, he married his co-valedictorian Elinor White and they had six children. (Only two outlived their father). He attended Harvard for two years, as well. While in Derry, he taught at Pinkerton Academy (1906 to 1911).After the barn, you enter the connected house and see room after room of how life was during his time. My informative tour guide, Randee, pointed out many objects actually owned by the Frosts, including an original soapstone sink with marks where they sharpened their knives. I was told not to share any indoor pictures in this post, but there are plenty online for you to see with a simple search. The picture of two windows above is where Randee said Frost did a lot of his writing at a small table. I pictured him looking out at the flowers growing there while dreaming of new poems. I went back outside and did a short trail walk past some of the areas where Frost found his inspiration, a brook, lots of trees, a path, and even the famous mending wall. A few lines from “The Mending Wall”
He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.' Opening of "The Road Not Taken" Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
After living in England for several years, Frost returned to New Hampshire, settling in Franconia for five years, before moving to Vermont in 1920 (where he helped found the Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College), followed by two years in Michigan and then finally to Cambridge, MA in 1941. This next shot is looking back at his house from a far edge of the trail that circles the property.
Please click on the above mailbox to see a post I did two years ago after seeing his home in Franconia. There’s a beautiful poem from A Boy’s Will included there.
From the end of a long poem titled ‘New Hampshire’ written in 1922 after he’d left NH:
Well, if I have to choose one or the other, I choose to be a plain New Hampshire farmer With an income in cash of, say, a thousand (From, say, a publisher in New York City). It's restful to arrive at a decision, And restful just to think about New Hampshire. At present I am living in Vermont.