Earthworms are being pecked out of the ground at an astonishing rate, judging from the robin beaks I have seen today. Hungry mouths are waiting.
Observing feathered behavior is a favorite pasttime, particularly when one individual becomes part of my landscape, part of my family.
My girl’s nest building was furtive, unnoticed. But her alarm routine while I gardened prompted a determined hunt ending at a low growing pine, her nest just above eye level. Gleefully I imagined the clutch she was protecting, and anticipated the addition of nestling peeps to our spring bird symphony.
I sat at my desk Friday, the clatter of the keyboard drowned out by alarm cries. I was driven to such distraction that I left my desk and walked out on the front porch. At least a dozen robins were participating in a flock alarm pattern, alternately swooping through the air, diving toward the ground or calling from a nearby maple. Perched at the top of the six foot pine was a Red-tailed Hawk, leering into the shrub’s branches. At my nest.
AT MY NEST!!!
I joined the flock alarm, clapping my hands and shouting “HEY!!!” My herding dog turned his eye on the raptor and added his command. With great deliberation the hawk looked down, then around, then slowly spread her wings to a lazy lift off. Atop my neighbors hemlock, twenty-four inches of taloned feathers observed our interspecies team for another minute before abandoning the project all together.
A short while later I held a compact mirror above the nest to glimpse the raptor’s intended prize–four blind, down-covered nestlings. Several hours passed before I checked one more time on my nest, only to be met by a mother’s stern gaze. We both have our eye on the future.
The tooled leather volume resembles a family bible, ornamented by the addition of a bronze latch. The heavy cardstock pages are cut out in the middle allowing for two cabinet cards to be displayed, back to back. A thick gold line frames each photograph. Buckled into the Minor Album are twenty-eight portraits taken between 1860-1900.
JUST WHAT DO I HAVE HERE?
THIS is the title page. Gorgeous!! Right?
MEH. I want story. Story comes from details.
Let’s start with the known. The album was recovered by my mother from the attic of the farmhouse in which she grew up. In which her father grew up. In which her grandfather and his father grew up. From the attic of the Minor Home Farm on Ceylon Lane, purchased by John Pearson Minor circa 1830. Just who, then, might have purchased the album and slipped the cabinet cards into place?
She did it.
My mother’s father’s grandmother, Mary Jane Gwynne Minor.
Women of the Victorian era were associated with the collection of family memorabilia and its display; photograph albums were part of this creative work. Mary Jane was the woman of Ceylon Lane, the mom of the Minor Home Farm, during the period that this album was filled.
This hypothesis has been strengthened by my work comparing other labeled photographs in my collection with those that I am finding inside the album. I have identified several images as members of the Mary Jane and Francis Marion Minor Family.
My sleuthing adventures begin with this hypothesis–the cabinet cards of the Minor Family Album belonged to Mary Jane and Marion Minor, and represent members of their immediate and extended family.
Next post– Mr. Chin Whiskers is revealed.