Pay it Forward

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All along the Mohawk Trail through the town of Charlemont someone planted daffodils years ago.  It’s probably a 10 mile stretch of the road on the north side where there are clumps of various types of these flowers.  I look forward to seeing them every year and am always sad to see them go.

Daffodils also grow in what seems to be random places.  You drive by what may once have been someone’s home, now gone and there are daffodils blossoming on what may have once been their front yard. I find the resiliency of these flowers amazing.  Not only do they come back year after year they multiply.  A few turn into hundreds.

This is one of the things I’ve learned about gardening over the years – it’s slow.  Whenever you are planting perennials, shrubs or trees you always have to think years down the road.  Don’t plant things too close together or you will end up digging them up.  Take into consideration the spread of some plants before you plant them.  I have echinacea that takes up a good part of a garden now, that was the intent.  It has other things growing with it but I love that sea of pink in the summer.

Bill thinks the idea of planting new maple trees in the front yard of the house as pointless because we won’t live to enjoy the shade.  I say plant them now so my grandchildren will have beautiful trees shading the front of the house in the summer like they did when I was a child.

Perennial gardens are gifts to future generations in my opinion.  Some of the gardens I have in Rowe were planted by my mother, most of the plants cames from her friends and aquaintances.  She planted them for herself and to beautify the property but as a gardener you know that she probably knew that the garden would go on long after she was gone.  I love being able to go through my flower gardens and know where the peony came from or the dark purple iris.  They came from people I loved dearly that are no longer with us.   I love my gardens because I remember a day spent with Bill or my sister sweating with a shovel or moving stones.  Year after year I will walk down the stone path and see how my flowers are filling in.  A few years from now I won’t have to worry about the weeds because the perennials will have taken over.  A few years after that I will be dividing things up and giving them away – to people I care about.  It’s all about paying it forward.

Quiet Beauty

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It seems as if it snows every day in Rowe.  Last night we had maybe a half an inch of light, fluffy snow.  It settles on the trees and shrubs and waits for a breeze to come along and blow it to the ground.  There is such quiet beauty here.  The sun came up this morning competing with the low clouds shrouding everything in a pink glow, wonderful.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

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After getting our Christmas tree in Heath a week ago I was thinking about our first Heath tree.  The living room had been in the process of rehab and I forced everyone to make commitments to get things done by promising a Christmas Eve celebration when the walls had very large holes still in the drywall, nothing was painted and the plastic had not been off of the floor for almost 3 years.  There’s nothing like the thought of 20+ people coming to your house for dinner to get things done.

Russell was to finish a paneled wall  going over the huge hole above the fireplace.  The entire room, walls and trim had to be painted.  The baseboards had to be trimmed (another job for Russell).  The plastic had to be pulled up, the glue from the tape removed from the floor.  Furniture had to be rearranged throughout the house – it had all been in one room since we started this project.  Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

Christmas fell on a Friday that year.  When I arrived the Saturday before the panel was on sawhorses in the living room – unpainted.  They needed to “acclimate”.  I believe the woodwork had one coat of paint and not all of the walls had any paint at all.  To say I was a little stressed is an understatement.

Russ and Carmen insisted we come and get a tree for the room.  I was thinking, “Is it going to be big enough to cover that HUGE HOLE above the fireplace?!?”  Russell just smiled.  We spent the morning hunting for trees, eating, socializing.  We came home to see that my brother in law had finished painting the entire living room while we were gone (he’s a painter by trade).  The girls pulled up the plastic from the floor and we moved and cleaned for the rest of the day.  And the first tree in over 20 years was put up in front of the bay window.  The vintage Santa took his place and it seemed as though we could pull this off.

That Monday the panel was primed and placed above the fireplace.  When I arrived it was just a matter of a few decorations and some major cooking.  Large candle sconces went over the electrical boxes on the walls.  We put candles everywhere.  Cait had made 80 luminaries for the driveway.  Candle carriage lamps lit the mantel covered in fruit, nuts and berries.  Every place at the table had a candle and there was very little electricity used that night.  People were charmed, enchanted by the soft glow.  Those of us that had pulled this off were just thinking, “It’s all theater.”

I had just spent the past couple of months working at Old Sturbridge Village when all of the events were by candlelight.  Initially we had an event where people took guided tours at night to see how people saw things in the 1830’s.  It was all a matter of social standing.  If you were poor you saw things by the light coming from your fireplace.  As you moved up on the social ladder you may have had candles made from tallow or beeswax.  Those in the fine houses with money had oil lamps in addition to the firelight and candles.  So you saw a progression from poor to rich and it got brighter all the way.

I think the house at Fort Pelham Farm saw a complete progression.  I’m sure many candles were used but they were used in a much more judicious manner than that Christmas Eve in 2009.  We’ve come a long way in our creature comforts but there is nothing that says Christmas to me more than candlelight.