A donation of daffodils from our local Ace Hardware brought some of us volunteers together for a volunteer day at Veblen House and Cottage this past Sunday. Daffodils planted last year did not seem to care about being planted in spring rather than fall. They bloomed in early summer and are up and growing well this spring.
Board member Pallavi and her son Gautam added to daffodils her girlscout troop helped plant last year.
Rose, Martin, Victoria, and Andrew added some in the recently cleaned up woodland next to the Veblen Cottage. The scattered clusters of daffodils will remind us in coming years of the enforced social distancing being practiced as the pandemic reacquaints the nation with the concept of collective effort.
There was a wild persimmon tree growing too close to the cottage. We dug it up and transplanted it to a spot where many fallen and partially rotted persimmon logs made clear there once was a grove. In its place, in this spot where Elizabeth Veblen was once photographed serving tea to a young man, Anika planted some daffodil bulbs.
Below is a photo, probably taken by Oswald Veblen, who took an interest in photography late in life, of Elizabeth standing in the yard next to the cottage. Born in England, she loved gardening, hosted Dogwood Garden Club meetings each month, and especially liked her daffodils, which she'd propagate and plant in clusters all over the property. The boulder in the photo still remains, but the young, dynamic landscape with spires of red cedar and hardwoods beginning to claim the sky, has succeeded to second growth forest.
In the 1950s, when this photo was taken, the Veblens would have been in their 70s, and yet their spirits were more reflective of the young landscape all around them. From Deane Montgomery's eulogy:
Veblen remained rather youthful in his point of view to the end, and he was often amused by the comments of younger but aging men to the effect that the great period for this or that was gone forever. He did not believe it. Possibly part of his youthful attitude came from his interest in youth; he was firmly convinced that a great part of the mathematical lifeblood of the Institute was in the flow of young mathematicians through it.