The fields surrounding our house have been tended by the same farmer since the 1940's. Now in his eighties, he loves to chat with Charles and I, sharing stories of our house and the people who lived here before us. He has also shared stories about the old cabin next door. According to our farmer, the last person to live in the cabin was an older bachelor whose hobby was gardening. He is said to have kept a large garden behind the house where he grew all kinds of fruits and vegetables. When the bachelor died the garden was left to grow wild. The vegetables eventually died off, but the raspberry bushes thrived, spreading through the woods around the cabin. Our farmer will smile as he remembers breaks taken from the field to pick a few berries ("as big around as my thumb" he says holding his hand out in front of him).
The berries are not quite that big anymore, but there are so many of them that it really doesn't matter. Any semblance of an organized garden is long gone, but I find it telling that even today the raspberries are all found in the front half of the woods surrounding the old cabin and barn foundation. Once you pass the cabin the raspberries bushes become fewer and fewer and the last third of the woods has almost no berries.
Cecilia quickly tired of picking berries (too 'pokey' and too many daddy longleg spiders), but Neil was a tireless berry picker. We picked the first berries to ripen this season, so I plan to take Neil back in a few days and there should be even more raspberries ready to pick.
While there I also took some pictures of the old barn foundation:
According to our farmer, the barn was burned down by a hired hand who felt he had been underpaid for his labor. When the fire was discovered neighbors from throughout the area came to help, but the barn was a complete loss. And with everyone's attention focused on the barn, it was only after the fire that anyone noticed a ladder leaning against the back side of the house. The window at the top of the ladder opened into the land owner's bedroom, where a large sum of money was missing from a bedside dresser. Only with this discovery did all of the gathered neighbors realize that the hired farm hand had been conspicuously absent during the chaos of the fire. He remained conspicuously absent afterward as well.
And, since I'm still completely fascinated by it, here are more pictures of the abandoned log cabin:
(I think you should be able to click on any of these for a larger view)
Yesterday after working outside in the heat most of the afternoon, the kids and I washed our black raspberries from Thursday's expedition and just before bed we all enjoyed still warm from the oven black raspberry pie with vanilla ice cream melting against it. It makes me smile to think that raspberry bushes planted and tended by an (apparently stingy) old bachelor a hundred years ago or more are still bringing pleasure today. : )