My absence from this blog for the past few months is due to a personal project I have been working on, in addition to a seperate blog called memory index that has been tracking much of its progress. Basically, it is a yearlong inventory of items and tasks exploring the past in the modern world, one day at a time. This project is inspired by my ancestors presence in and eventual migration from the American South beginning in the late 18th century. By taking on many of the chores that were surely practiced, the foods that were undoubtedly prepared, and the objects that would have been part of their daily lives, I hope to get to know them better - and perhaps bring a greater sense of simplicity to my life.
The daily posts are organized in the following 5 categories: COLLECT, MAKE, COOK, VIEW, and NATURE.
So please, when you have some time, feel free to drop by memory index and check on its progress. Below are some of the images that can be found there.
Row one: Garfield Park, postmarked Sept. 14 1909; City Hall and County Building, postmaked Sept 3, 1914. Row two: Union Station at Canal and Adams Streets, postmarked Sept 6, 1907; Floral scene and conservatory, Washington Park, Chicago: 1910. Row three: Post Office, postmarked Aug 13, 1908; Washington Park, postmarked Sept 30, 1907
They set out for cities they had whispered of among themselves or had seen in a mail-order calalogue. Some came straight from the field with their King James Bibles and old twelve-string guitars. Still more were townspeople looking to be their fuller selves, tradesmen following their customers, pastors trailing their flocks.
-From Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns
“The first white visitors to describe it found the Barrens, treeless reaches of grassland where in late spring the wild strawberries reddened with juice the travelers’ horses up to their knees…”
-From Harriette Simpson Arnow’s Seedtime on the Cumberland
From left: 1951 vintage botanical print of the purple coneflower, echinacea purpurea, native to the midwestern and southeastern United States; purple coneflower heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange.
“God love admiration….I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
-From the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A weathered, handmade brick, a branch, and courthouse map dividing up the Kenton County property of Congressman Richard French following his death on May 1, 1854. His northern Kentucky homestead totaled over 265 acres. The main family homestead was located on the outskirts of Mt. Sterling, KY.
In November 2010, I traveled to the neighboring cities of Erlanger and Elsmere in Kenton County to research my ancestors who were slaves belonging to the French family. While there, I found the brick and branch on an empty plot of land in a wooded area that is said to have belonged to French and is included in the above map.
“It is disquieting to be in a place where history is so physically present, yet so glaringly absent from people’s consciousness.”
Caryl Philips from his book The Atlantic Sound