22 Nov 2012
in Autumn, Eating and Cooking, Family, Holidays, Travel
Tags: family, Feast, Flea Market, Kansas, Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving from the American prairie.
Here we are in Kansas. An eclectic feast is simmering in the kitchen- tamales side-by-side with turkey gravy. Two pumpkin pies bake, scenting the air with allspice and cinnamon.
We’ve come here from Vermont, Pennsylvania and Brooklyn, to gather and cook, laugh, catch up and relax at the home of my sister and brother-in-law.
I’m grateful for the brief change of scenery and climate (it’s warm here!). The wide plains of golden fields, baked crisp from the summer drought, and greening fields of freshly planted winter wheat are vastly different from my view at home, yet so beautiful to me.
In our flea market exploring yesterday I found this vintage bakelite telephone. It reminds me of all the connections in life-near and far.
I immediately dialed my childhood phone number, and for a moment the years slipped away. I almost expected that my 10 year old self would pick up. What would she say? Probably, “When will the pies be ready?”
22 Oct 2012
in Autumn, color, Eating and Cooking, Farm Life, Garden, Local Food, Natural world, Vermont
Tags: autumn dusk, fall garden, nature, planting, planting garlic, plants, sun goes down
My husband came through the door about 30 minutes earlier than usual this evening. “Quick!” he said, “Let’s plant the garlic before the sun goes down.”
I was fiddling with an image in Photoshop and the glow of my computer screen temporarily blinded me. Hadn’t the sun already gone down? But there was still time.
We raced to the barn where the garlic was drying in the rafters after we pulled it up in late July. Grabbing the best bunch of the largest heads (R had marked these so we wouldn’t eat them), we bee-lined down the hill to the garden, the sky darkening in strips of purple and magenta behind the tree branches, turning them from dimensional forms to flat silhouettes before our eyes.
R husked the cloves, papery chaff falling across the grass like wedding confetti. He had the furrows hoed in a flash and I started tucking in cloves, six inches apart. Fingers in the dirt—an instant cure to stresses from the day—from the last week that still linger. The soil just soaked them up, thank you very much. And left my fingertips muddy and skin dry and smooth.
I was glad that we ran out of cloves and I had to run back to the porch for a few more heads. It gave me an excuse to grab the camera. All before the sun went down.
10 Oct 2012
in Autumn, England, Family, Natural world, Seasons, Sewing
Tags: arts, bed of leaves, Born Yesterday, Midsummer Night's Dream, nature, Northern Stage, Shakespeare, Stage plays, Stage sets, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Theatre
An autumn bed of leaves under our maple tree reminds me of a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream that I saw in Stratford, England, when I was 19. It was the later 1980s. Life was my oyster.
Before the woodland scenes the stage crew rolled out a carpet of jumbled textile pieces, layered and sewn to resemble the forest floor. Puck, Oberon or Titania flitted about in the nets and branches that were suspended above. The stage lights cast dappled shadows onto the rumpled cloth collage and you could almost smell damp leaf mould. I thought at the time that I’d love to carpet a room with something like that someday.
Now it is that someday, and I sew lots of out-of-box things. No reason why I shouldn’t try t0 sew a textile carpet of raw-edged fragments.
Last night I saw the stage play Born Yesterday, produced by Northern Stage, and here I am looking at fallen leaves that remind me of a play from twenty years ago. When three friends invited me to join them last night I jumped at the chance, and this morning I’m basking in the starry afterglow of being to ‘the theee-uh-tuh.’
My parents were avid theatre-goers during my childhood, but I haven’t made it a habit. I completely forgot the thrill of sitting so near, seeing and feeling the energy come from the actors, and reacting with gasps or laughter in a collective way with the audience all around.
So many kinds of artistic expression are right here to grasp. I plan to book a seat for next month’s production and get back in the theatre habit.
29 Sep 2012
in Autumn, England, Seasons, Summer, Vermont
Tags: apples, Humbert Wolfe, leaves, October eves, plum island, summer evenings, sunflowers, wind
“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
Autumn has only arrived, in accordance with the calendar. Though leaves have been falling and the air is chill each morning for a few weeks now.
It’s apple time, but I feel a glimmer of nostalgia for some special summer evenings that passed this year. Artisanal pizza eaten outdoors in Waitsfield, Vermont—with old dear friends who live in Ontario, al fresco dining at a secluded cottage in Corinth, Vermont—with our exiled Vermont-to-Glasgow friends, walking the beach on Plum Island in late August as the sun went down, watching fireworks by a campfire with friends….
So let the leaves fly, I’m okay with that.
We had heat, a good garden, a few hard knocks on the farm—and yet here we are, ready to put the grounds to bed before another year. The ground can only be fertile by being allowed to rest. It is the same for we people, I think.
Ready for pumkins and wool sweaters. Ready to take the quilts from the cedar chest and fold away the light cotton covers of summer. As I write the fire crackles, rain and fog cloak the morning.
01 Sep 2012
in Autumn, Chickens, England, Family, Farm Life, Garden, London, Paris, Travel, Vermont
Tags: Anniversary, Chores, Duality, hops, hydrangea, London, Marriage, Packing, signs of autumn, travel, woodbine
This morning I woke to wish R a happy 22nd anniversary.
We celebrated last night, since today would take on the non-reality that days do when you prepare to travel.
We shared a nice breakfast together and then he took off on a long rugged bike ride. L got up and played with her many toy horses, and I—well—I cleaned out the chicken house.
You may think I spend all my time mucking barns after my lamb post last week. I probably should spend more time mucking (I thought to myself as I scooped the wheelbarrow full from our little hen house). The hens were gathered around watching me. I had clucking commentators.
All around I noted the tangle of my gardens, growing wildly out of my control. The hydrangeas are tinging pink, and the woodbine is getting its first kisses of red at the edges. The hop blooms are shaking their beer-fragrant pollen around the patio. When I return the steps toward autumn will be more pronounced.
A few hours and several other unsavory chores later, I got to packing in earnest: checking my many lists, moving piles around. Eying my luggage dubiously and wondering how I’d make it all fit.
Such is my life at times. One moment in the wellies, and the next picking out clothes and shoes that are suitable for urban Europe. No complaints, just acknowledging the inconsistencies and surprises that life brings. And when you face a 22nd anniversary it’s nice to rewind the years and think of the things, places, events and people that brought you to this place where you look down and see your feet in mucky boots one day and kicky little black flats the next.
Just before the leaving the ache of love can be so strong and powerful. Our family lunch made me miss R and L, before I’d even left.
Then back to the packing—but now making the decisions of what was essential and what could be left behind.
Highway miles are flying by my window as the first leg of the trip begins from Vermont to Boston. Then on to Heathrow tonight and a much anticipated time in London. Later Paris.
Already anticipating the first cup of strong tea.
24 Aug 2012
in Autumn, Creativity, Design, handmade, In the Studio, Natural world, Sewing, Summer, Vermont
Tags: august, fog, morning, sewing, studio
This is what late August feels like-misty and chilly when we wake up. Our view is eclipsed by clouds that sit on our hilltop obscuring everything a few feet beyond the windows.
I am out in the studio at 7 am and the sun just broke through the fog. Outside me door jays are calling, the white pine is aglow, but all beyond it still lies behind that cloudy scrim.
By noon all hints of autumn will be lost again to August sun.
Six stacks of cloth, trims and bits await sewing today. Possibility!
01 Nov 2011
in Autumn, Holidays, Seasons, Vermont
Tags: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Halloween, Jack O'Lanterns, Vermont village
Gabriel García Márquez wrote:
“Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life.”
On Halloween we get a chance to let that secret life leak out. I like the chance to cover up my freckles and light hair and become some other person, if only for a night.
It is a yearly tradition—this being the eighth year—to walk the dirt roads of the tiny village where my brother and parents live, and visit about 10 houses. We know everyone we visit, and some years our group is the only trick or treaters the villagers see.
This year, I was Professor McGonagall, and part of a Harry Potter crew that walked through falling snow on Saturday night. We were joined by a convict, a much-moustached Mario, a cat, a half man half woman, and several muggles. Donning my small squared spectacles, I fell into character, peeking through the narrow space between the top of their rims and the wide black brim of my pointed hat.
The seven year old—who was Albus Dumbledore—and I had fun taking and giving points to Griffindor or Slytherin (both houses represented by others in our party). I watched through snow to see if Tonks’ hair would change color, and it did—mostly because it was more and more wet with melting snow.
The snow made us feel like Christmas carolers, and the kids called, “Merry Christmas!” as each new door opened.
Several houses offered fresh baked cookies along with candy. At one house we signed our names in the Halloween notebook and looked on previous pages to find our names and to see how our childrens’ handwriting has changed.
We walked a few long steep driveways and earn our treats. It was the weather that was up to tricks.
Trailing footprints in the new fallen snow, we wandered back to my brother’s house, its windows casting rectangles of yellow light out onto the frosty lawn. Hot chocolate was waiting for us.
29 Oct 2011
in Autumn, Natural world, Seasons, Vermont
Tags: autumn snow, seasons, snow, Vermont
Thursday evening I drove a co-worker home and made a circuitous route to my house via dirt roads and snow squalls.
On Friday morning we woke to a world of white, with a few snippets of russet, ochre, and blackened green peeking out.
It all melted by noon.
This morning we are back to a normal autumn view—frosty grass, pale blue sky, amber sun sweeping across the meadow and clusters of gold, auburn and green amid many bare branches.
More snow forecast for tonight. *sigh*
19 Oct 2011
in Autumn, color, Garden, Natural world, Seasons, Vermont
Tags: autumn, bird nest, color palette, cosmos, falling leaves, Geranium Anna Folkard, paint colors
Autumn has a many hued wardrobe—one I’d be happy to wear. A cloak of cadmium, to face the chilly night.
The afternoon sun washes broad strokes of yellow on leaf and petal. But it’s not just any yellow. I think it is Naples Yellow Deep. A single leaf changes color a dozen times as the clock ticks slowly toward sunset.
If only I could mix that blue. Enough said.
My favorite Magenta is worn on the blooms of Geranium Anna Folkard. The black centers and delicate veins set off the deep color and suggest velvet, silk, sateen.
The twigs and vines of bird nests are now abandoned among the last sizzle of crimson, ochre, phthalo green and chartreuse.
The colors hang suspended against that un-mixable blue. Then shift and release and gently fall to the ground.
09 Oct 2011
in Artisanal Living, Autumn, Eating and Cooking, Garden, Natural world, Seasons, Vermont
Tags: apples, autumn, chickens, compost, fall, frost, harvest, Indian Summer, laundry
We had heavy frost this week. Unavoidable heavy frost.
The world was crackling with the sparkles in the morning and now we have a taste of Indian Summer with a hot sunny weekend. Yesterday we worked outside all day, cleaning the lamb barn and chicken house, repairing a gate, hanging laundry on the line—perhaps for the last time, but who knows?
Though we covered the poblano peppers and annuals, the cosmos didn’t handle the weight of the cloth well and look browned and crispy at the edges. A few blossoms still face the sun. The rest are on the compost heap, contributing to next years’ good soil.
Under the apple tree, the drops were a blanket of red, like thousands of red Easter eggs hidden in the green grass. Enough of them fell into the chicken pen to make the hens happy. The rest, we picked through for making pies and apple sauce, and the rest we gathered to put in the compost layer cake.
While we repaired their gate, the hens had free range. We have too many hawks and foxes to let them range about without our watchful eye, but I love to see them scratching the mulch in the garden, and wandering among the black eyed susans. Happy chickens.
I love the melancholy of final harvests and clean up that comes in the fall. Maybe I am tired enough from the work of summer to welcome a time of rest by fireside.
And there is always next year to dream about. But we will surely have a few more spectacular autumn days to revel in before the trees are bare and the snow clouds settle in for good.
This pillow made by Brenda will soon appear on the ilocollective shop.