The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

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To My Child by Anne Campbell

You are the trip I did not take,
You are the pearls I did not buy,
You are my blue Italian lake,
You are my piece of foreign sky.

You are my Honolulu moon,
you are the book I did not write,
you are my heart’s unuttered tune,
you are a candle in my night.

You are the flower beneath the snow,
in my dark sky a bit of blue,
answering disappointment’s blow with
“I am happy! I have you!”


Anne Campbell, “The Poet of the Home” (1888-1984)

Anne Campbell - Poet of the Home“Thousands of people know and love Anne Campbell, the only woman in this country who writes a poem a day. Here is a woman who is essentially a poet of the common-place. Her verses dramatize the contacts of every day. She writes of the home and all that it implies. She writes of children and does so with understanding, having two boys and a girl of her own (in private life she is Mrs. George W. Stark, wife of the dramatic critic of the Detroit News). In fact, her children’s poems, while they always possess an appeal for little ones, are written with the adult viewpoint. And she writes authoritatively of the farm and country, for she was born and reared in the back country of Michigan.

“Although Anne Campbell has written all her life, it was only three years (1920) ago that she attempted the task of writing a poem each day. At that time she was engaged for this work by the editor of the Detroit News. Her verse gained instant recognition, and soon a national newspaper organization began the distribution of her poems throughout the country.”

From a speaking brochure, c 1920, Source

Hearth and home

Vermont Castings Defiant wood stove

Among the most sought-after but always elusive features of the homes we have lived in is a fireplace. One of my favorite childhood memories was warming up feet-first next to the fireplace in our family room on a cold winter night. Becca and I have moved many times, but never to a home with a fireplace. I always lamented that.

This trend continued when we moved to our house in the country where the previous owners had knocked down the 19th-century fireplace and hearth a few years prior to our arrival. If they only knew! Needless to say, one of our most anticipated upgrades was the installation of our own wood-burning stove.

Living on three acres of woodland we knew that a fireplace was in the cards. Clearing out the deadwood alone would be enough to heat our house for several years. We looked half-heartedly the first year but never settled on exactly what we wanted.

But last winter, with historic cold and propane shortages, we paid literally thousands of dollars to heat our home. That sealed the deal.

We found an installer and got to work. It took most of the summer for all the pieces to come together, but it finally did and not a day too soon.


The hearth is comprised of Old World-style tumbled brick. Our kids found it a fitting play stage.

Kids playing on the hearth

Carrying wood stove through front entryway

Installing wood stove

After a long delay, our new wood stove finally arrived! Wood stoves are far more efficient than open fireplaces. Since we wanted to augment or replace our furnace heating, we needed to maximize heat output. We went with a Vermont Castings Defiant model. It has a huge firebox capable of putting out 75,000 btu’s per hour. It also has a cookplate surface so it could double as a cookstove in an emergency.

Using a mechanic log splitter

While waiting for the stove to arrive this Fall, I got to work splitting wood we had already cut and set aside to dry. Initially, I roped one of my neighbors into bringing his hydraulic wood splitter over and making quick work of the wood pile.

But then I discovered how much fun it is to split wood by hand. No, really!

Splitting wood with a maul

Truckload of split wood

Beginnings of our wood pile

We have a bit more than one cord of wood split and ready to use. Looks like a lot. But I came to realize that’s only about a fifth of what we’ll need for the whole winter.  Guess I’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors this winter. As Pa Ingalls said: “Chop your own firewood and it’ll warm you twice.”

Outside winter is coming

Soon after the stove was installed the snow started falling. We started a fire and turned off the furnace. Every day since we’ve had a radiant fire and a warm house.


America is an idea

Independence day flag waving in front of farm

Today, many of us gathered with friends and family to celebrate our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, and subsequent struggle for freedom. The impact of this world-reverberating document are still being felt today, 238 years after its signing. As I write this I can hear the crackle of late-night fireworks symbolizing the “bombs bursting in air” of a bloody revolution.

So momentous was this document that it rallied the first Americans to risk their lives to secure our independence from the world’s strongest empire. But it doesn’t take much observation to realize that the Declaration’s pivotal claim appears to be false: all men are NOT created equal. Different talents, varying intellects, wide-ranging interests and achievements, to say nothing of our outward appearances or station in life. We are anything but equal. So why did the Founders make such a claim, even going so far as to call it self-evident?

America, more than anything, is an idea. For nearly the whole of human history, man lived under tyranny. Whether warlords, caesars, kings or dictators the long arc of the human story is one of oppression, injustice, and poverty. Self-rule was never attempted nor even deemed possible. It was assumed that a society would devolve into barbarism if left to themselves, without a strong leader to rule over them (ordained by God, of course).

When our founders penned the Declaration, they were proposing a new idea; that man was not only capable of self-rule but that such a right was God-given. In this way we are all equal: our rights come from God, not men. This was the idea that rocked the world. Our rights are not granted by men and cannot be taken away by men. No king, government, majority vote or supreme court decision can deny what is granted by God.

Our right to life and liberty is guaranteed regardless of whether we are rich or poor, young or old, able or disabled. It is not our condition that is equal, but our inalienable rights.

Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time

The Stone Table by Henrick Tamm

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

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