Heavy dew this week makes for magic mornings. The apple blossoms are just starting to open on the north side by the henhouse. Violets and dandelions sprinkle the lawns, along with fallen branches from winter winds and snow—now just a memory.
12 May 2013 7 Comments
30 Mar 2013 6 Comments
in Art Portfolios, Artists, Creativity, Design, Holidays, Spring, Vermont Tags: covet garden, Easter, easter spirit, Masako Kubo, montreal, nature, Rabbit, Spring, spring weather, Terrain, vintage birdcage
A tiny touch of spring weather is in the air for Easter weekend here (this means sunny and a high of 48 F, with possible high 50s for tomorrow). The snow is receding. The farmyard is muddy. The sugarhouses will be boiling today.
I came across this rabbit artwork by Masako Kubo on the Covet Garden blog. A tea towel of the art is available at Terrain. I was smitten with its simplicity and it, along with the sunshine, are putting me in the Easter spirit. Masako’s illustration is so clean and fresh. I like her simplified palettes and use of words and emblems. Her rabbit may just inspire us to decorate some eggs today.
Yesterday I perused my photo libraries from spring in the last few years. All the blooming crocus, daffodils and tulips don’t show up until the April 20s of later, so I’m going to have to be patient. Tiny tips of green are popping up on the south side of the house where the snow is gone. And in three weeks we’ll be in Ireland where there will be plenty of green and spring flowers.
I leave you with two photographs I took in Montreal last May. A vintage birdcage that I plan to paint in a loose style on canvas (I’ll share if it’s worthy), and a cheery display from a favorite fleuriste.
17 Mar 2013 17 Comments
Another St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, with chill winter in the air, and hearty Irish fare cooking in the kitchen. A perfect day for that, though I wish our days would be ripening toward spring flowers instead of brewing up a big winter storm for tomorrow.
I’ve been looking at photo albums from April 0f 2006 when we first took our daughter to Ireland. She was four, and looked upon everything with the wide eyes and questions I associate with that year. We saw places that we’d loved and visited through her naive and tender gaze. And we loved them anew. She loved them along with us.
On this trip we returned to Roundstone, a small village on the western edge of Co. Galway, in a wild region called Connemara. In pockets of Connemara you can still hear the Irish language spoken, and there are roads that cross the bog where you won’t meet another car or person. Just sheep, sprayed with a color to mark their flock, and crows and the occasional seagull.
Back to Roundstone. I took R. there for our 5th anniversary (1995) and we stayed in a little B&B called St. Joseph’s on the main street. As we wandered from pub to pub that night we were followed by an elderly trio of two men and a woman. At the first pub they asked to join us at our table since there were no other vacant seats.
They mistook us for local kids, wondering if we were the children of anyone they knew. They were native to Roundstone, but had emigrated to England years before (as have so many from Ireland over the centuries). They’d returned for a wedding in the town. We all chatted amicably while sipping our pints, and since we had arrived first we also left before they did, wishing them a good night.
We moved on in the hopes of finding some live music. Further down the street we found some music in a smaller, more rustic pub. A few men were singing so we settled in to listen for a little. Who should walk through the door, but our three friends. They joined us again and we laughed at the coincidence.
Our last destination of the night was Ryan’s, on the harbor side of the street. Here two men were playing guitars and singing. Not the fiddle and accordion tunes I’d hoped to hear all night, but the quality was good, so we decided to stay. The place filled up and we barely found two spots at the bar. The crowd around us joined in on the singing and near eleven p.m. a rousing rendition of Danny Boy left us breathless as we raised our glasses and sang at the top of our lungs with the crowd. And who was beside us, but our three new friends. It was—we decided—a perfect travel moment.
Back at our B&B we settled in and were awakened an hour later by some noise in the downstairs hallway. “I’m sorry Christina,” we heard a man saying, and the soothing response of the innkeeper as she took in the newcomers and gave them a room.
Imagine our surprise at breakfast to see that the latecomers were our friends from our pub crawl! It was as natural as anything to sit and eat our generous fry up together.
This was the story we told our daughter L. as we walked the pier in Roundstone and pointed out Ryan’s Bar and our former window at St. Joseph’s B&B. Our daughter’s name is an Irish surname. We picked up some Roundstone brochures and discovered that Christina—whose name we’d mentioned in this story dozens of times over the years—has our daughter’s name as her surname. Really? Did we somehow intuit it when naming our child? Down the road in Clifden, we discovered a Bar, a woolen shop and a butcher with the same name on the main street. We had no recollection of this! Of course, our daughter settled in and felt right at home.
08 Mar 2013 9 Comments
Yesterday I discovered a paper bag with four paperwhite bulbs—forgotten and sprouting exuberantly. I tucked them in among the spent paperwhite bulbs I planted in December.
All our outdoor bulbs remain under a thick blanket of snow. The Irish daffodils are appearing in our markets and were irresistible.Their scent fills the house and nips at the tails of the woodsmoke. They increase my anticipation for a trip to Ireland only six weeks away. Travel and spring. Both worth waiting for, I think.
13 Feb 2013 11 Comments
in color, Creativity, Design, Garden, Housewares, Interior Design, Natural world, Spring, winter Tags: Fine Gardening, forcing branches, forcing forsythia, forsythia, Interior Design, Le Creuset, nature, orange, Staub, winter gardening
As I typed the words ‘forcing forsythia’ I heard them spoken in the voice of Sylvester, the cartoon cat who always chased Tweety Bird.
These metal industrial stools cheered me when I came across them this morning via Nest Design Studio. I do love orange, and a jolly little 1940s milk pitcher, a small le Creuset butter pan and a few Staub shallow dishes are practically glowing on my shelves this morning in all their orangeness.
Then the forsythia filled me with longing for Spring—which is a long way away in these northern parts. Just yesterday I found my secateurs under a dusting of snow in the alcove off the porch. (The wind blew snow into every nook and cranny in this last storm.)
I’ll cut forsythia branches to force today. If you’ve never done this, it’s so simple to do: clip branches close to the main trunk of your bush until you have a bundle to fill a vase (or put single branches into a group of glass bottles).
Put the branches in warm water, then fill your sink with very hot water.
Submerge each branch in the sink and (under the water) recut the end at an angle, then cut a one inch slice through the end of the stem (to help the branch absorb the water).
Make your arrangement and put it out to display. The branches will respond to the water and indoor warmth and blossom in due time. They will last longer if you change the water regularly and don’t have them in direct sun or near direct heat. That can be hard in our house, so I just enjoy whatever blooming comes my way. The yellow flowers are dazzling when lit up by sunlight.
Happy winter gardening.
More great information about forcing branches: Fine Gardening.
13 May 2012 7 Comments
in Chickens, color, Eating and Cooking, Family, Garden, Natural world, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Vermont Tags: al fresco dining, bees, blossoms, breakfast, chickens, crabapple trees, garden, home, mother's day, motherhood, nature, outdoors
But this morning Mother’s Day dawned with a bit of overcast that began to clear. Birdsong through our open windows was the alarm clock we hadn’t set. It was chilly, but not so much that we didn’t take our tea and breakfast out to the table on the patio. Above us crabapple blossoms drifted down like lazy benevolent snowflakes and the buzzing of bees hummed over our heads. R let out the lambs and the chickens who gamboled about (lambs) and waddled through the gardens in search of grubs and seeds (hens). Really nothing could have made me happier—hanging out with my family and the critters under the sky eating breakfast.
It brought to mind the morning 10 years ago and my very first Mother’s Day as an, um, mother.
Mother’s Day was not on my radar at all because it was the exact day of my husband’s birthday. My parents watched the wee baby and I went with R on an hour’s jaunt south to watch him play baseball with a southern Vermont league. Back then he was a stay-at-home dad, and playing ball on the weekend was his escape from diapers and repeated readings of Goodnight Moon.
That day we got to the ball field early for warmups. I dropped him off and went to Brattleboro in search of coffee and The New York Times Sunday edition. At game time it began to sprinkle. I left the bleachers for the comfort of the car, faced the field, and worked on the crossword while keeping track of the game. The rain got heavier, but they played to the 9th inning.
Afterward, we planned to go to brunch at a favorite cafe and chocolate shop—Burdicks— in nearby Walpole, New Hampshire. The birthday boy was soaked through but found something dry to change into in the back of the car. We were on our own without the responsibility of a baby (though we were crazy ’bout that baby!) and were giddy as we heading up route 5 north. Rain or no rain, we had a birthday to celebrate!!
The parking lot at Burdicks was packed. Huh? Sunday, we guessed.
In the doorway we had our first aha moment when we saw the room packed with families in all manner of Sunday finery. We were in our damp and disheveled ballgame closes. Eek. Not a free table in site. Right, it’s Mother’s Day.
Burdick’s waitstaff could have easily turned us away with an upturned nose, but instead—to their credit, which has earned them our lifelong devotion—they invented a new seating area at the counter near the cash register, locating stools in the back kitchen, and proceeded to serve us as though we had booked a table weeks in advance.
Happy birthday. Happy Mother’s Day. And all that.
30 Apr 2012 8 Comments
It is the day after a longest day. A day of traversing timezones and crossing continents and oceans. So here I am in my own timezone feeling a little like I’ve been run over by a car. Nothing another cup of tea won’t cure. And a few more nights of sleep.
My body could also be going through butter withdrawal. Or cured meat overload. Or post-paté panic.
Only a few days ago the skies of Paris shone kindly on us after days of rain. We wandered from the top of the city at Sacre Coeur to the river banks of the Seine.
It’s a world away, but still fresh in mind (and belly). But it’s good to be home with the grass greening, leaves unfurling, and the fresh bloom of violets sprinkled through the lawn.
I didn’t expect the violets.
21 Apr 2012 15 Comments
Narrow streets, sunshine, music, vibrant outdoor cafes. April in Barcelona!
Out to the end of Barceloneta, we take off our shoes and test the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Cold, of course, but exhillerating, too.
There are holes to dig and lots of seaglass to find. There is sitting to do. Pigeons and seagulls mix. This is the sea. But also the city.
20 Mar 2012 4 Comments
Pinch me. It’s the first day of spring and it feels like spring. Actually, it even whiffs of summer. The last few days have been hot, with no leaves on the trees to shade us. The grass is brown and littered with twigs from winter winds. The last patch of ice on the pond melted yesterday.
The pair of wood ducks that swim on our pond every year arrived yesterday. Now I’m anxiously awaiting the chirping song of the spring peepers in the evening hours.
Seed packets await me on the table. Maybe tonight? Peas. Beets. Spinach.
Green shoots poke through the garden beds, promising spring flowers a month ahead of their normal schedule. Maple sugar makers are closing up their sugar houses after one of the earliest seasons on record. Last year we had, not inches—but feet, of snow on the ground at this time. We feel like we’re getting away with something. My daughter skipped off to school in shorts today.
Wherever you are, I hope you glimpse a bit of spring today—a robin, a petal, a ripple on water. Welcome spring.