When the wanderer stays home, Part 1
I must refer you to Vivian Swift's really marvelous and beautiful book, When Wanderers Cease To Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put - Bloomsbury USA, 2008. I haven't by any means ceased to roam, but do it far less in winter for all of the obvious reasons. I remember a torrid trip to Miami one winter long ago, when I left that tropical paradise in 80 degree temperatures and flew home where it was -20 F. Not a good idea.
The best reasons for staying home are, of course, my darling dog Renny (Le Petit M. Renard) and cat Catrick Swayze aka Bodhi. I also came to roost five years ago at a wonderful 1876 Cape sitting on a charming gardened acre in Downeast Maine. It came with two chickens who were with me for several years before old age took them, followed by two Barred Plymouth Rocks who supplied me with eggs for two years and were dispatched by predators.
But here at home in a relatively mild February, I'm engaged with travel plans as usual, but also "home improvement" (actually perpetual maintenance and upkeep) renovation / remodeling ideas and garden planning / daydreaming. These are all perfectly delicious occupations. I keep looking around my house, which to the best of my knowledge has been occupied for most of its 149 years, seeing what I should or could "improve." It's a modest house, not too large and not at all fancy, and I like that. It apparently started life as a farmhouse, though the farm itself is long gone. I have every intention of keeping this farmhouse or Cottage feeling. It's not at all what we see in shiny magazines as "new farmhouse style" which I find really unattractive and contrived. It's functional and beautiful, as William Morris insisted. My goal is simply to make it more functional, more beautiful. In its long life, no one who's lived here has made any garish changes beyond some unfortunate (to me) paint choices, easily remedied.
I look around, today as other days, to see what I would change. More bookshelves, always, for my enormous collection of books. A few kitchen updates. More art, but not too much. Decorative touches. Nothing enormous, all optional. It is quite simply pleasant and cozy as it is, and I'm in no hurry to change that.
The other (enormous) issue about changing things in an old house is that, once started, you never know what you'll find. This house has stood firmly for more than a century, so I'm hopeful that it's solid. I did have a good home inspection done before I bought it, which revealed no major problems. I'm of an age where, if it looks like it will hold up for twenty-five or thirty years, I'm not going to worry about it too much.
The garden, too, is beautiful but of a size that I need to carefully consider for my time and energy. I want poultry and miss delicious organic, free range eggs, the decimation of unwanted insects, snails and slugs, and cheerful sounds. I would rather like to have guinea feel but don't think my neighbors would appreciate their screams at dawn. I want vegetables, herbs, fruit but have very little soil and only a few really sunny spots. I have huge, beautiful trees - oaks, maples, cedars, fir and spruce, and ancient lilacs. What to add and where? What to take away? These are all pleasant pursuits sitting near the wood stove on a chilly evening.
To be continued...