Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plant Orchards - 1853

When I saw that Bill West would be hosting the Second Great Local Poem and Song Genealogy Challenge I admit that I groaned just a bit. Poetry has never really interested me and often I simply don't understand it.

Bill recommended that I search for poets or poems from an area that my ancestors lived. Easier said than done! I found several but could not see how they might have related to my ancestors in any way. I finally just searched for 'Michigan poem' and ended up finding myself reading from the 1853 volume of the Michigan Farmer at Google Books. The poem was not what I was looking for but I did find myself skimming through the articles. I would think that if they could afford to buy a copy that my family would have been interested in reading the magazine themselves. Further along I ran across the poem below. I know nothing about the author, Samuel Arnold, but Gilead is not far from where Mike and Sarah Ann Camfield settled. Apples were a staple for my family so even though I don't believe the following to be great poetry I do feel it connects to my ancestors.

Michigan Farmer, Volume XI, Detroit, June 1853, No. 6, page 175

Plant Orchards
For the Michigan Farmer.

An opinion too long in this country's prevailed,
As though on the people 'twere fully entailed,
That the climate of Michigan never could suit
Good peaches, or apples, or any such fruit.

For the buds of such trees would expand premature,
This being the case it must follow for sure,
That the frost with his cruel and sharp biting sting
Would wither the fruit in the blossoming spring.

The "old settlers" were sure that the buds would all freeze,
Than where was the use to be planting young trees,
If the trouble and pains would not warrant such cost,
When fruit would not grow the labor was lost.

To my shame must I own that I too was deceived,
This do-nothing story I partly believed;
In this manner I lived something more than eight years,
Neglecting my duty in doubt and in fears.

Of my friends, some had tried, and their fruit, who could beat?
Of which they did cordially press me to eat,
And whilst I of the same sis most freely partake,
I thought of my duty, and then was awake.

I soon planted some trees, and to all gave them stations,
Inserting choice scions and inoculations,
And e'en now my young orchard I highly do prize,
For we've apples in plenty for sauce and for pies.

There are those who stick to this miserable pies,
Refusing to plant e'en the first apple-tree.
O How lazy the man, how ungrateful the heart,
That never performeth his duty or part.

And what if though our orchards do fail in some years,
To yield us good fruit in spite of our cares?
We should know our Creator most surely has said,
In wisdom He's numbered the hairs of our head.

That He shows in abundance His fatherly care,
O'er beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air.
In His promise of faith all who hope may confide,
That also for man He will surely provide.

My do-nothing friends, you can do as you please,
But I shall advise you so plant fine young trees,
And no longer to make such a flimsy pretense,
But trust the event to a kind Providence.

Gilead, Branch Co., March 1853 SAM'L ARNOLD


Barbara Poole said...

Apple, I love this because of two reasons; I am thinking it is about my Alexander Farmer, who lived in Michigan and was a farmer, and second, the message is so apropos to the name of your blog. Perfect selection.

Astrid said...

Great choice!

Bill West said...

I knew you'd find something good!
Our farmer ancestors surely would have read this and nod their head in agreement with it.

Thanks for participating, Apple!

Nancy said...

Wouldn't it be fun to learn that your ancestors actually DID have an apple orchard?! I wonder if an agricultural census would tell you. Thanks for sharing this poem and that you found it in a book at Google Books.

TK said...

Apple, I love your choice of poem! In general, like you I'm not inclined toward poetry myself, but I learn so much participating in this challenge, both on the posting end and on the reading end. I'm glad Bill nudges me off my spot, and being a Michigan native, I'm glad he nudged you off yours too.

Susan Clark said...

When I think how many Orchard Streets and Orchard View Roads I've been on in MIchigan, how many apples I've picked or remember Fruitport and Apple Avenue I suspect more than a few West Michiganders heeded Mr. Arnold's words.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Thank you all.

Mike and Sarah Ann did have a small orchard on one of their farms in Branch County. I don't believe that there were any fruit trees at the Buchanan house so they must have bought them.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Apple, I really, really liked your choice. My daddy had peach trees here in Texas, and it is a labor of love, I think, to care for an orchard, whatever the size. I loved the simplicity of this poem.