Traditionally speaking

Ashby door close up

 

Just imagine how many feet have stepped over the threshold of this old house, back in the days when the front door was for receiving company and the side or back door for the family. This old house sits on the main street of a small New England village with the church and store just down the street, very picturesque. Now it seems we use the garage door for all traffic into the house, a front door seems almost a cosmetic after thought, a nod to a time when we had parlors, and hand towels and linens we kept “for best”. A better or worse way to live? It can be argued either way, I think it was just different. It certainly is nice to have the option to pick and choose what items we want to embellish our lives with, versus society telling us what the good host/hostess does in ironclad terms. If a highly decorated table appeals to you, I say go for it, if the thought of hand washing all that china and polishing the sterling flatware gives you anxiety, then use the everyday items. Life is way to short to fret over the finger bowls and proper forks if that isn’t your thing.

Live with your own sense of comfortable style and elegance.

Gathering in the days

leaves an grassesHat and glove weather is upon us, the frost is not burning off when the sun hits it and the moon casts a cold light over the leafless landscape. It makes me appreciate the hum of the boiler when it clicks on, and the warm water of a morning shower. The sun during the days has its own sharp light but still retains a touch of warmth from summer, but there are phantom snowflakes waiting to fall and blanket the ground. I like to get out on hikes on days such as these and look closely at what autumn has left behind as it slips away. The nip in the air as Thanksgiving draws near brings to mind all the things to be grateful for. Maybe it is the inky darkness that falls in the evenings or the sunrises, but it seems as if this time of year asks us to slow down and count our blessings one by one. To hunker down and gather in what is dear, and share what we can.

 

Late fall walk

11-21-2013_099Yesterday, early in the morning I set aside the regular chores of the day and took myself out to the woods for a quick hike. Cold air the night before had created beautiful swirls of ice and clusters of frost on the grasses and leaves, even the path glittered where the sun rays illuminated it through the trees. The sun had not yet made it even halfway up the trees when I started, and by the time I reached this point the morning was changing from early to school bus and commuter time. But the skim of ice was in no hurry to be on its way, there was no need for me to rush either. My very chilled fingers finally pleaded for relief, gloves just didn’t quite do the job. When I walked back around the pond and left the cover of the woods, the suns warmed me and I paused to let it soak in. By then it was 19 degrees, but what a beautiful morning it was. These late fall days are a gift not to be passed up, then again- no day is.

Mid week snacking

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It is squash season, and there are so many ways to enjoy them.

But what about the seeds?

Bake em!

Your are fixing the squash, so why overlook the seeds?

They are fabulous, and easier on your jaw than pumpkin seeds.

Scoop out the seeds and cluster on a foil lined baking sheet.

(stray ones will bake too fast, so grouping them together is better)

Sprinkle with salt.

Bake at whatever temp you have your oven at, flip seeds once to keep from sticking, and enjoy!

I made some earlier this week, but have no photo as I ate all of them before I thought of taking one.

The squash in Vanessa’s photo above are delicata (long) and dumpling versions, either work great for this.

You can snack on the seeds while you fix the rest of the meal.

Approaching

2-1-2013_070Soon it will be winter.

It is approaching a bit everyday, encroaching on the daylight at both ends, bringing a swift, deep darkness where there was a soft twilight just a few weeks ago.  the wind will sharpen and bring snow in its wake. The lake will freeze and be declared thick enough for bob houses. The winter will seem to have its grip tightly on us, yet in just 33 days we will start to gain back some time, albeit slowly at first. It will probably go unnoticed until we realize suddenly that we don’t have to turn on lights quite as early.  But one evening we will realize that the sun is a staying a bit longer, or one morning we will notice the slant has changed bringing all of us in the Norther Hemisphere inexorably closer to spring.

 

The Death of the Hat

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The death of the hat

by Billy Collins

Once every man wore a hat.

In the ashen newsreels,
the avenues of cities
are broad rivers flowing with hats.

The ballparks swelled
with thousands of straw hats,
brims and bands,
rows of men smoking
and cheering in shirtsleeves.

Hats were the law.
They went without saying.
You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.

You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
who branded your initials in gold
on the inside band.

Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
Men with hats gathered on the docks.

There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
In your office stood a hat rack.

The day war was declared
everyone in the street was wearing a hat.
And they were wearing hats
when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.

My father wore one to work every day
and returned home
carrying the evening paper,
the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.

But today we go bareheaded
into the winter streets,
stand hatless on frozen platforms.

Today the mailboxes on the roadside
and the spruce trees behind the house
wear cold white hats of snow.

Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.

And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,
a lighter one of cloud and sky—a hat of wind.