W7876 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Muriel [surname unknown]
Mar 15 1931
To: Rev. Calvin McQuesten 'Whitehern,' Hamilton, Ontario
From: Lynden, Ontario
You have no idea how many times I have thought of you this winter. If you were a sarcastic creature instead of the soul of good natured tolerance you would say you had no reason to believe that I ever thought of any of my friends.
But I have been having a bout with the old enemy and have been lying low all winter while wave of wave of that tired feeling swept over me.1 My metaphors are really mixed, and it sounds much worse than it was, for during five weeks of it, Hal was with me constantly and that was a rare treat indeed.
After five months & 7 weeks, (12 hour days) he was glad of a rest, but was soon eager to be back at work and is now happily re-established at Lake Shore Mines where he feels much more at home than in the Abitibi Canyon, altho' there was indisputable fascination in watching a huge camp spring up in the wilderness. You will appreciate his satisfaction in the gang's acceptance of him as a "genuine hard-working miner" not a mere student interloper. He has gained considerable brawn, seems actually taller as well as thirty pounds heavier.
Your name reaches me occasionally as President of the N.B.P.S. [National Bird Protection Society]. Isn't the season late this year? I heard Kildeer this morning, my very first bird sound this spring. Has anyone drawn your attention to Julian Huxley's bird articles in the Atlantic? There is one in the February number, and a previous one appeared in November, I think, possibly October. They evince the most intense and extensive observation, and draw amazing conclusions, surprising at best to this addled-pate.
Have you been putting in your bulb-borders yet.2 I have been craning my neck out of my window in the vain hope of a glimpse of a few Chinadoxia crocus, no, snow drops and scilla, planted last autumn. If you have any suggestions for a garden which will care for itself, I humbly beseech you to offer them. Flowering shrubs of hardy varieties approach most nearly that ideal of an idler, I think, and I have been wondering how I could extend my season of interest.
We have a number of common sorts of Japan Quince (from great-Grandfather Christie's Garden), Mock-Orange, Lilac, Common Mauve and Double White, Spirea Van Houttei (sp?) Double White, and Anthony Walter and "Plume hush," Weigela, Rose and Red (Eva Rathke), Forsythia, Pink Bush Honeysuckle. A couple of years ago I added Caragana, High-Bush Cranberry (which contradictorily remains a very low bush), Japanese Barberry and Wild Crab-apple for the sake of the birds.
Someone suggested Rose of Sharon. Do you know if this is pest-free? and shade-tolerating? I thought I might get a red leaved blackberry. What of the bronzy-purple shrubs one notices in the gardens? I merely want something that will be of interest at all seasons, especially off-seasons, and pleasing to the birds as well, if possible--no trace of Scots blood in a desire of that sort is there?
My plea for information will make you suspect that it was because I was "after wanting something" that I wrote, but I deny such a base charge. I have been wanting a chat with you for months, and my thoughts are prone to wander into gardens, one of the nicest places I know to wile away idle thoughts and moments. Mother laughed at me because I confessed I had spent some sleepless sma' hours planning what I would do with five hundred tulips. I put one hundred in in 1927 and my neighbour increased to that extent in four seasons. This friend is provincial W.C.T.U. [Woman's Christian Temperance Union] Secretary and a most enthusiastic gardener. She called yesterday to view our cluster of three glowing poinsettia. Mother bought the "stick" from California in her trunk. Our potted bulbs have been particularly pleasing this year. Narcissus albo pleno and poetaz, are happy with a pink "ivy" Geranium on my dresser at present.
[letter terminates, page likely missing].
[Muriel] [surname unknown]3
1 "Muriel" may have been a tuberculosis patient at the Hamilton Mountain Sanatorium where Calvin was chaplain.
2 Calvin was an avid gardener and kept a Garden Diary at Whitehern from 1918 to 1933, see W8296.
3 Whitehern Calendar states that the letter is from "Muriel," but no surname.