Spring is starting.
You might not feel it, but it’s there. The ice is clearing from Lake Champlain, and little buds are starting to appear on the trees. Geese are returning home. And it is almost time for the Kent-Delord House Museum to open its doors for the season! Time to dust off the artifacts, heat up the house, and let the sunshine in! Oh and the garden…it’s almost time to prepare a garden in the memory of the women of the house!
Back in the times of Betsey Delord, the coming of Spring did not just mean warm weather. It meant a pathway down south was opening again for the season. Lake Champlain was a major avenue of travel in the 19th century. Once it was frozen during the Winter, it prevented many travelers from as close as Albany to reconsider the journey. To come to Plattsburgh meant exposure to high winds, ice, snow, and bitter cold of the Adirondacks. It also meant a very long journey compared to sailing the Lake Champlain waters. Once Lake Champlain was clear of ice, a new world of visitors and commerce opened up throughout the North Country community because traveling was so much easier on a boat than trying to navigate the treacherous roads leading north to Plattsburgh.
To see the ice clearing meant that Betsey would see her beloved granddaughter Fannie again. Fannie was living in Hartford with her Aunts and could not travel up to Plattsburgh during the winters because of the cold, harsh conditions. Betsey wrote to her son-in-law Henry Livingston Webb on March 26, 1844 from Plattsburgh about the coming of Spring,
I’m glad to learn navigation is open between Albany and New York. We shall rejoice to see our lake once more clear of ice. We shall better accommodate the comeing [sic] season as to steam boats. They are to leave Whitehall in the morning and arrive here about five in the afternoon. The boats meet here. The one from the north will leave here as usual and arrive at Whitehall in the morning. So much less time will be taken in the northern jaunt and objections of stopping so long at Whitehall will be obviated. If there is a rail road from Schenectady to Whitehall, I hope I shall see you oftener. I have recently read all of Bishop Hopkins letters in one volume. Once more may I trouble you to send me one paper of Double whit stock and one of Cauliflower. Your kindness in sending me bulbs last fall has afforded me beautiful sweet flowers during the winter. The Polyanthus narcissus is now in bloom. I hope to hear soon that you have been to Hartford and seen our child.
The coming of Spring is exciting to us because it means warm weather, sunshine, flowers, and it means we are closer to Summer. But for Betsey, it meant a time of visitors and traveling. It meant it was time to prepare the house for visitors, to start on her gardens, and come out of hibernating in Plattsburgh during the cold.
So in celebration of Betsey, come out of hibernation and start preparing for Spring and warm weather and the gathering of friends and family!