Walking the Frost Farm

Sunday restlessness prompted a short road trip up to an apple orchard for some apples and pumpkins. This proved to be too brief, so it seemed a good day to revisit the Robert Frost Farm. Maybe it was his poem October that inspired me, or maybe the beautiful fall day, but either way he whispered to come over and stay awhile.

The last visit to the Robert Frost Farmhouse was during a different time when you could actually walk about with a group of strangers and not think about the risk associated with doing so. This time we skipped the farmhouse and just walked the property and the adjacent Grinnell Farm conservation land. Walking slowly, reading the poems and biographical information that lined the path on the Robert Frost Farmhouse property, it was still a quick walk even with the extended walk through the conservation land. But still altogether necessary to be outside in the world, and especially in Frost’s former world.

A lot changes over time. The farm was used after Frost sold it as an auto graveyard for a time, with the top soil scraped away and car parts scattered all through the property. Thankfully all that is gone now, and though the farmland itself isn’t what it once was, it’s grown back into a field that feels largely feel like you’re walking the land that Frost would have known. The land that inspired his writing. The auto parts are gone, but the wildlife, the farmhouse, and especially the stone walls remain largely as they were for Frost during his formative years as a poet. Having visited the farm on several occasions, I manage to draw something new out of the experience each time. I’ve toured the farmhouse and recommend it for a first-time visitor, but for me walking the path is what makes you feel like you’re a part of Robert Frost’s world, if only for a short time.

Frost lived at the farmhouse from 1900 to 1911, honoring his grandfather’s wish to maintain the farm for at least a decade. It proved formative for him as a writer: “the core of all my writing was probably the free years that I had there.” He would leave this farm and rise to fame and relative fortune (for a poet) in the years that followed. He would read a poem he wrote at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. And his words would ring in the minds of millions, including mine. And really, it all started here at a little farm in Derry, New Hampshire.

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