I had assumed that Oswald Veblen had inherited his passion for the outdoors, and woodchopping in particular, from his midwestern pioneer grandparents, but the Times article suggests that his Norwegian roots may have played a bigger role.
These photos, from the last decade of Veblen's life, after he and his wife Elizabeth had moved to the outskirts of town at the edge of Herrontown Woods on the northeast side of Princeton, show some European-influenced structures near their house--the hay barrack, dove cote and, mostly hidden in the background, a large circular rock wall reminiscent of sheepfolds found on the internet.
Hopefully, close inspection of a higher resolution version of the photo will reveal whether the wood sheltered under the hay barrack is stacked with the bark up or down. According to the Times article, Norwegians are in passionate disagreement--deeply split, if you will--about which orientation of bark is best.
The Times article offers enticing tidbits about Norwegian firewood culture, and the link between firewood and character. Here are a couple quotes:
“You can tell a lot about a person from his firewood stack.”
The mixing of symbolic and literal warmth brings to mind my neighbor, an elderly woman and painter who told of Elizabeth Veblen inviting her over for tea in front of the fire, and the still intact tradition of tea that the Veblens started at the Institute. A recent post at another blog of mine, rhapsodizing about the radiance of wood stoves, can be found at the following link.
Post a Comment