Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spring Chickens and The Chicken Lady

Spring Chickens visit the Chicken Lady
Our long time friends Sue Branch and Joe Hall helped make one of my decades long dreams come true. I got to visit the cemetery on Martha’s Vineyard that includes the grave site of Nancy Luce, aka The Chicken Lady, who died in 1890.
Nancy was disdained by all (except her beloved chickens) and led a lonely life on Martha’s Vineyard, but she is now visited and honored by many. 

Distant view of Nancy Luce's grave.
Look at how bare this ancient graveyard is, but in the distance you can see the glimmer of Nancy’s burial spot, which overflows with chickens left by visitors. It so touched my heart I cried. Imagine, friendless while on the planet, but loved now.
Sue is trying to master her new digital camera. I was clueless about it.

Nancy's flock.

Now she is never alone.

Joe and Sue are the best. They spoiled us, and we didn’t refuse any of their attentions. We laughed a lot, talked non-stop, ate too much, and were shocked by how quickly the hours flew past. 

Candid shot of the adorable Joe in the kitchen as dinner was prepared.

I opted for dinner in the bay window of the living room. I loved the way the lace panels luffed in the breezes.

I gave a talk based on my book Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars sponsored by Eight Cousin Bookstore at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, Massachusetts. I was thrilled to have some blogging friends and their gorgeous daughters attend. Debra Jean Bosworth of Dandelion House and Marcia Simonds from Child in Harmony are my on-line, and now off-line, girlfriends. It is amazing to me how we forge bonds with people and feel as though we’ve known them forever.
More spring chickens.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Highfield Hall-DO IT. They saved and restored a national treasure for all to enjoy. Right now they’re having a wonderful exhibit of paintings focused on the garden. 

Highfield Hall as it looked originally. The interiors are stunning. This is a great place to have a wedding ceremony.
All joys to you,


AngieTink said...

♥ Hello Sharon...Oh How I Loved the Pics of Susan & Joe & You... & Your Beloved Chicken Lady at Rest...thank you for sharing this story & lovely photos with us xoxo~Angie(Tink!) Poof!

Mozart's Girl said...

Sharon my darling - I heard all about the evening from the other side, and it sounds just as wonderful this way round-and pictures too. Luffing is my new favourite word!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us xoxox Rachel

rebecca Sweet said...

Oh, the poor chicken lady! Such a sad story - I hope she realizes now what a rock star she'd be if only born a hundred years later. Do you know if she was scorned because of her love of chickens or was it something else? Maybe I should re-name of one our ladies 'Nancy' in her honor…I think I like 'Nancy' better than 'Jasmine' anyway. ;)

Terra said...

The chicken lady story is so sweet, how all of those handsome chicken statues surround her grave. The story is a new one to me.
Now I will visit some of the links you give here.

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Why did the Chicken Lady, Nancy Luce, become popular and loved afterwards? And why wasn´t she while she lived? Sounds interesting!

Highfield Hall is really beautiful!
Have a great day now!

Anonymous said...

So sad to be loved only after life...? I too wonder why?
Your dinner looks enchanting and makes me feel like a nice evening out...candles, a bottle of champagne, me all dressed up...wonderful!
Ronelle x

Erin @ I Heart New England said...

I don't even think I have to tell you how much I enjoyed this post :) Susan Branch! ♥ That cemetery must have been so fascinating! And Susan's house, absolutely gorgeous. I'm planning to vacation in the Vineyard next summer (can't wait!)

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i want to be the chicken lady. but i don't have chickens. that is the coolest story ever. in all the times i was on martha's vineyard i never heard of her. did anyone ever write a book about her? like christer, i wonder was she was appreciated after she died. what are you doing for the 4th?

lemonverbenalady said...

Glad to see you are still having fun, Sharon! Cemeteries are really interesting places! You do have a great life and so do I! Enjoy the 4th! Tell Jeff, hi! Bet my namesake is thriving! xx Nancy

Vee said...

What an interesting story about the chicken lady...and a few unanswered questions...nothing like a mystery. Glad that you had a good time with dear friends!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hello all,

Like you I am asking lots of questions about The Chicken Lady. I've written some inquiries about her and when I find out I'll let you know.

Oh the 4th of July??? I think we're spending it with Ginny Holihan who is our old friend not only from here, but also from California. We'll watch the fireworks over at Bristol on Pemaquid Peninsula. They flash over John's Bay and are doubly reflected in the sea water in front of our cottage.

Picnic time, old friends, flags, decorated sailing ships and lobster boats, potato salad, and so much more. I LOVE IT HERE!


Deborah Jeans Dandelion House ~ inspired living said...

Dearest Sharon,
What a nice wrap up to your whirl wind book tour with a cozy meal at a dear friends home...Glad your back in Maine and getting into the spirit of summer cottage style~ Can't wait to learn more about the chicken lady... poor dear...
Look forward to hearing more from Little Green Island!
It was a treat behond treats to meet you at Highfield Hall!
Much Love,
Spring Chicken...

Mama Ruck said...

The Chicken Lady is a unique story. Thanks for sharing.

farmlady said...

Seventy-nine years of loneliness in this world??... maybe she wasn't really. Sometimes folks like the company of animals. It becomes a way of life for them.
Here's to the Chicken Lady who choose her feathered friends wisely and spends eternity surrounded by the humans who criticized her for this. Guess they all ended up in the same hen house anyway...

Sharon Lovejoy said...

I LOVE farmlady's words. Yep, we all end up in the same chicken house.

But here is some more information on The Chicken Lady. When one of her beloved bantam hens passed on to the big coop in the sky, she had marble headstones carved for them. They had their own little chicken cemetery enclosed by a fence.


Thea said...

You, madam, have the funnest life. Enjoy your Maine summer. Wish I was there!! hugs, Thea

Kristina said...

What a sad story on such a beautiful island! Aren't old cemeteries the most beautiful, yet somber places? We have an old cemetery near our home that belonged to an old Czech settlement and the old ornate headstones make me wonder who the people were, what happened to them, were they happy in life. I hope the chicken lady is at peace. Have a spectacular 4th of July, Sharon!

country girl said...

Welcome back home in Maine, Sharon!

I loved this post so much. I, too, wonder about The Chicken Lady, and can't wait to hear more.

Sue and Joe are just such great people...doesn't it make you want to cry sometimes when you think about people with their big, good hearts? There are still some left, you just don't hear much about them!

I'm sending you a big June's to July, which I hope will hold many memorable Maine moments for you and Jeff.

xoxo Dawn

marcia @Child in Harmony said...

Hi Sharon!
So good to hug you at Highfield Hall! You are such an inspiration to me!

First on my summer agenda is to make faerie mailboxes in the woodlands for my two grandchilden...and Chloe too!

Poor chicken lady!
But I think The chicken lady was loved by those she loved the most...and maybe it was every person's loss..who knows!

I never considered myself a *bird* person until we got out first flock of chicks 5 years ago. Now they melt my heart . We have 9 hens and 24 wee ones right now now . 5 are Polish hens with the funky hair and 4 are Brahmas with feathered feet. They are their wonderful gift of nutritious eggs .

I LOVE Susan Branch's designs and illustrations! You have cool friends!

I can't wait to hear more about life in Maine. Above all
Rest up and enJOY!
happy day and happy 4th!

with love

marcia @Child in Harmony said...

ohhhh i meant to add..

and a hug and a hello to Jeff too!

happy day!

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

I must say I've never heard of the Chicken Lady until now. When you wrote about being friendless in life, but beloved by many in death, I thought of Van Gogh who lived a similar existence. Artists often do, why not chicken ladies?

I love that hen on top of her headstone. The garden is growing. I often think of you while I tend it. I'm off to Buffalo next week. Glad you're home.~~Dee

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon~~ You lead such an interesting life. The dining table at Sue and Joe's looks so inviting. I love those sheer curtains too. In fact I've got a few of my own. :)

Love Ms. Luce's gravestone. Being unfamiliar with her, I'll have to give Google ago. LOL

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Sharon,

I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your photos.
The chicken Lady's story was touching and thanks for sharing.
Your dinner in the bay window looks lovely, the light through the lace windows is fabulous.

Happy 4th of July.

nocton4 said...

bless the lovely chicken lady xx
wonderful post, lovely to catch up.
Our bean house grows and grows, new photos up on my blog.
happy 4th to you and all those you love.
smiles from across the miles

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hope all of you had a wonderful and old fashioned kind of 4th. It was great here, but HOT.

I'll post soon.

All joys,


Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Hi Sharon,
That chicken lady story is very interesting. And Martha's Vineyard, so wonderful! You have the most charmed life! It's fun to see all of your adventures!
Thanks for sharing with us.
Are you in Maine now?
Take Care,

Nan said...

First of all, imagine calling her 'Sue' - this woman that so many of us adore from her fine, fine work. Oh, I just love it that you know each other so well!
Second of all, how did you ever learn about this woman, the 'chicken lady?' And why was her life so very lonely?

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Nan and those of you who've sent notes. I first read of the Chicken Lady in an article (maybe the little Vineyard paper) many years ago.

My one wish when we stayed with Sue and Joe was for a visit to The Chicken Lady's grave site. I got my wish and it took only about 20 years for it to happen.

Someday I may write a story about this amazing lady.

Another amazing lady is Sue. You're right Nan. I love her work and am re reading Autumn, her last book, but NOT her last as she is now writing a wonderful new book. I got to peek at about 50 of the fabulous pages she has already completed. Talk about a perfectionist.

As soon as I can take a minute I'll do a new posting. I haven't had any time for the past few days, but I will catch up.

Joys to you all!

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Sharon,

I took a look back through earlier posts and saw your sweet bear Patience, loved seeing her and other friends.
Also I enjoyed seeing photos of your gorgeous garden and love the picturesque view from your windows.

Happy week

Rebecca said...

I enjoyed the charmingly simple sill-compositions....

But what really caught my eye was that dining table in the bay! My heart went pit-pat!

I've never visited Martha's Vineyard but my preconceived notions of it would not include chickens! Maybe the way they were "lodged" would make a difference???

the REAL girl said...

I just LOVE the little dinner spot.....and your blog posts always....sometimes, however, I'm a little late in posting a comment!! LOL