Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stumbling upon the "Briar Patch", Thornton Burgess

In 2007 our family drove along the highways of upper New York State to visit Cape Cod over the Memorial Day long weekend, see HERE. Family was gathering to remember once again, my sister's husband who passed away a few years before.

The Memorial Day long weekend was the signature time to reflect, recall, remember and reminisce while planting another lilac tree in my sister's backyard in honor of him. Two years ago marked five years since his death, and the final gathering of such a kind.

For our family's journey, we had bookmarked several touristy and of -interest sights we wished to visit if time allowed for possibilities. Oh sure, we caught many of them; Norman Rockwell museum (see HERE), Plymouth Plantation (see HERE), Baseball Hall of Fame (see HERE), walking the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston, and much more.

One such possibility we weren't able to include and visit was
Thornton Burgess' Briar Patch (here). No one knew it wasn't bookmarked for the purpose of merely bringing our children there. Heavens no!

I for one became so excited over a visit to step foot onto the property where all of our beloved animal characters came to life; Reddy Fox, Unc Billy Possum, Peter Rabbit, Johnny Chuck, Blacky Crow and so many more. Briar Patch was where Thornton Burgess became inspired to write all of his wonderful and so very precious series.
He is our Beatrix Potter of America! In fact, during his time living in the Sandwich area (1874-1965), through his stories he ignited much interest in topics of conservation and the love of animals.

If you get a chance to browse books in a book store, you will likely not find any of Thornton Burgess' original 170 books or any of his 15,000 newspaper stories. Most original books are long out of print and hard to find. Not only that, some are rare and worth a pretty penny. For instance, I was lucky to locate his book titled; "The Burgess Book of Birds for Children" at a thrift store for a song. Lucky me. We love this book! Please enjoy reading more about this author by clicking HERE. The good news is, many of these sweet books have been reprinted by Dover books in paperback form allowing anyone the ability to purchase them for realistic pricings. Check out Amazon by clicking HERE for a page of these lovelies!

Traveling around route 6A and stumbling upon the Sandwich main street area offered me inspiration to make an attempt to find the Briar Patch on my iPhone's GPS system, but no internet ability was offered quickly enough to perform my search.

Just as I placed my cell phone back into my purse, surprise of all surprises, we passed the Briar Patch signage on the roadway. YES!

(And just a note; when two sisters are sightseeing, anything can be possible. We prove it every time we get together, kindred spirits who share the love of adventure and wonder....)

"There it is", I shouted "Back up, back up!"

My wish was my sister's command as we circled around the road and returned to the site of the indicator sign. Yes, this was the Briar Patch! Up the long drive we drove to find several buildings, spotting the "closed" signs on the glass doors. But that was okay, we found it and I was happy to skip about with my camera pointing and shooting at the photos enclosed here.

(These are some of our own personal Thornton
Burgess out of print editions in our family library.)

Thornton Burgess is one author who has presented wholesome, loving stories for all generations. I have read almost our entire collection in our personal family library to our children, many times over in fact as each child has risen up the ranks.

Artistic drawings of all these animals have graced our home, hung on our refrigerator and the walls of the house, sketched into drawing books and the front of cards given to others.

If you'd care to take a moment to visit the "Briar Patch" website, you'll find something for everyone there. From naturalist information, hikes, various and most interesting classes to attend, kitchen jam making, gardening talks of interest, children's activities, Victorian events, and so very much more, And, if this spectacular area is not enough for anyone, the original Thornton Burgess Museum rests not too far away where one can hop along on a walking historical tour and commentary of the area of Sandwich.

The Blackberry Kitchen

My sister was not familiar with Thornton Burgess and his books, and obviously had no clue about this "Briar Patch" either. She our stumble upon, she has already alerted a group of friends to our find and to the website of this great place. The bunch of them are happily thrilled to list several upcoming events on to their calendars. Hmmm.... maybe I should remain a bit longer. :) You can link up to the official website HERE.

I was so excited to get out of the car and walk up towards the paths along the edge of the nature patch's forest, and then I took a double take, elated to note a small wild bunny hopping along directly ahead of me. He very soon disappeared into the thicket beyond the signage above.

I can only imagine the natural inspiration this author was able to view and eventually capture in all of his beloved stories. If I lived here, I would be hanging out here often! How about you?

If I can convince my sister to visit there again before I leave town, that would be an amazing experience for me. I would leap at the chance to do that for sure. I'll definitely let you all know....