It’s easy to focus on Emily Dickinson’s history of lost connections (both friendly and romantic) and assume that her descent into seclusion was driven by despair, and that, if only one of her attachments had stayed with her, life might have been perfection for her. But every time I’m tempted to take that view I slide myself over to Macgregor Jenkins’s slim volume of reflections on his childhood, Emily Dickinson: Friend and Neighbor. He and other neighborhood children often played about around the gardens of the Dickinson homestead and he left us his reflections of those days, when Dickinson was in her mid forties. As we leave her here for a while in the Pierce household, I’d like to quote a bit from that book as a way of beating back somewhat the gloom which people (including me) have tended to wrap Emily in. It breaks the unspoken internet rule of never quoting more than two lines at a time, but as it’s charming and lovely, I hope you’ll indulge me:
What a perfect playmate she was. Never actually in the game but always hovering near us, adding that touch of mystery and charm that children feel and love. We were pirates, storm-tossed, starving on some barren isle (starvation played an important part in all our games) some signal would be given, a soft tap on window glass or a fluttered handkerchief, and succor would come from an unexpected source. We had grown to half expect it, but its arrival always gave us the thrill of the unexpected and unusual. A window would be opened, silently and with the utmost caution. I never could decide whether her care and deliberation were part of the game or whether they were to avoid attracting Maggie’s (a housekeeper on the Dickinson estate) vigilant attention. But the window would be in Miss Emily’s room, and soon on the window ledge would appear a basket. It would be slowly lowered. I can see it now, jerking its way down from what seemed to us then an incredible height. We saw two delicate hands playing out a much knotted cord, and framed in the window above a slender figure in white and a pair of laughing eyes.
I shall never forget the contents of that basket. It was as like Miss Emily as it could possibly be, and by the same token unlike any one else. The basket always contained gingerbread, whether of her own making or Maggie’s I do not know. It was not like any gingerbread I had ever seen before or have encountered since. It was in the form of long, oval cakes, crisp and brown on the outside, but within a light brown or yellow and delicately sweet and gummy. The flat tops were hard and shiny and on these a bit of decoration was often added, in the way of a penny or other small flower.
Not abruptly and with wild whoops of delight did we approach this manna. It had come to us in the accepted and appropriate fashion and all must be done with nice attention to the proprieties. So we would approach the basket with due caution and indirection, creeping through the grass, taking every precaution lest we be surprised and overcome by unfriendly savages. At last the prize was in our hands, a crumpled daisy or clover put in the basket by way of tribute, and it would make its uncertain ascent to the cloistered window.

See you back here on Tuesday, as Geoff takes Frederick and company on a brand new adventure in a period of time as yet untouched by our redoubtable zeitsgeschlaegers! Just four days away!
– Count Dolby von Luckner