Yankee Love

I was visiting friends on a farm outside Maine, a picture perfect place with a pond and a winding lane leading to the main road.  The Missus and I planned to attend Sunday worship at the town’s perfectly-steepled white frame church.  But first, since I’m an early riser, I laced up my walking shoes for a stroll.

By the time I arrived back at the farmhouse, a battered truck was parked in front.  At the kitchen table was a crusty – no other word for it – man in overalls, with a shot glass in front of him.  The Mister of the house also had a shot glass and a bottle of bourbon in the center of the table.  I was introduced and the visitor left.

My friend said his wife died a while back and he’s looking for a new wife. He saw you walk past his farm and hightailed it over to ask if that was our friend walking by and is she single.  His wife always worked his cranberry bogs with him and until he marries again he’ll need to hire labor.

A shot of Sunday morning bourbon, a pickup truck outside and inside, a cranberry farmer in overalls, a wife-hunting widower, decades older than me, using his chair by the front window to spot a new arrival.  Practical. To the point. I carry that story around with me as proof of my first true Yankee experience and please don’t tell me I’m wrong.

This is not my only Yankee love story.  I’m in love with Yankee Magazine.   It’s my favorite publication and the first one I read all the way through before passing it along to a neighbor.

I love it in a specific sequence.  First I love the covers.  Inside, I begin with editor Mel Allen’s letter, then go straight to From Mary’s Farm, then I move to House For Sale and from there, I head back to the front and read every page all the way through. I love the writing, the respect for history, the photos, the covers, the celebrations of all things poetic and prosaic spread out over six New England states.

I imagine life in a cabin in New England. Any state will be fine.  Or maybe instead of the country I’ll take a cottage on the main street of some picturesque town. These are dreams born in a sunny Northern California climate, but while many people run toward the sun for vacations, I always want to be packing for fog and rain and weather requiring big puffy jackets.

California friends say, but the snow.  How would you deal with all that snow?  I don’t have that figured out yet.  I guess I’d find someone to shovel it or snow-blow it or somehow move it around just enough to clear a path for me to the source of the nearest diner with pie and coffee.

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Yankee Magazine’s website is New England Today.

Yankee has a  TV show, Weekends With Yankee.

 

Instagram Envy

Listen to this blog with music here.

I was late to Instagram and I still don’t post all that often. I use it mostly to watch what other people do. Building and remodeling and designing, planting and pruning and cooking.

I’m a little bit envious until I remember that my personal interest in the domestic arts has been on the wane for years. I don’t plan to begin any of these projects but still, I’m fascinated. A little voice says, I might like to have a wall like that.  Another voice says, too much work, but hey here’s one on Instagram and isn’t it fine? And that chicken pot pie.  Those hydrangeas. That charming old house for sale, cheap. Some of this and some of that which I get to see without doing any of it.

I’m presently following entertainers I like and deep thinkers and silly people and all kinds of home-related posts. Here are some I check often. Nigella Lawson. This Old House. All things San Francisco. All things New England. All Southern cooks, and weather everywhere.

But my current Instagram obsession is Elizabeth’s Humble House. She’s a talented photographer and designer and it shows in all her posts, no matter how brief, which are accompanied by photos taken inside a cottage she and her husband are restoring.

Look at that wood stove.  

 

 

 

 

The floor she painted by hand.

Now I have to go over there and see if she’s posted anything new today.


Photos: Elizabeth Maxson

Music: Nat King Cole Trio “Penthouse Serenade”

 

 

 

Weather-watching obsession – does this make me an ol’ coot?

Watching the weather is a favorite hobby of mine.  I don’t generally get my weather reports from television, but I might as well be one of those people we see in comedies, who fixate on the Weather Channel and sit there for hours, soaking up data about places they’ve never been, never intend to go, and if they did go there, they wouldn’t know anyone. Those people are portrayed as coots. (One definition of  a coot:   simple-minded.)  A weather fanatic will say to no one in particular,  “I knew it.  I knew that system was gonna come in early.”  

Except for not watching the Weather Channel (tornadoes and hurricanes are exceptions that demand TV coverage) I may be one of those people.

I check the Weather Channel’s website several times a day for places where friends and relatives live.  Every trip for me begins with www.weather.com where I can fill in the name of any city and see what’s predicted for the next ten days. 

It might be an inherited trait, since my country born-and-bred father had a set of weather instruments on the back porch and glanced at them  several times a day, always remarking out loud on what he saw there.  He often disputed what the dials told him, and he was always right.  He could feel changes in his bones. 

Something about working out in the fields as a boy and his own deep respect for nature had permanently tuned him in to the time for sowing and the time for reaping. His instincts often did not agree with the calendar. He’d wake up and announce that he was going out to our vegetable garden. “I better go pull up the radishes and the collards before the sun hits ’em again.”   And this while rain was still falling.   He knew when a big change was coming.

I don’t have the knack he did for predicting imminent change, but I’m always hopeful about it. Our problems may stick around, but at least we can count on the weather to change.  When my diagnosis is boredom,  just watching the weather offers promise. 

One reason I love  my part of Northern California (and envy New Englanders)  is that the weather plays tricks on the forecasters.  Mother and Father Nature send along surprises  for us several times a month.  We’ll get rain when the sky was clear a minute ago.  Big winds arrive high up in the treetops, when the lower limbs don’t even know it yet.   Fog rolls in and out, but not always on the schedule we expect.  I’m disappointed when the fog fails to appear.  Like the redwood trees in the back yard, I rely on absorbing fog through my pores.  

I like being surprised by the weather.  Keeping the family’s weather-watching tradition alive  (my brother does this too) the first thing I do when the day arrives is go see what the weather is like outside, and I do it again before sleeping.  It seems I’ve been making my own notations out loud to no one in particular, without realizing it.   (Another definition of “coot” might be “predictable.”)

I haven’t been a grandmother all that long and sometimes I forget a small person is nearby. They’re always listening, aren’t they?  One recent morning while I was visiting at her house, I opened the drapes and stood there for a minute with my coffee cup.  From the little girl who’d snuck up behind me I heard, 

“Hammy, you forgot to say ‘It’s a beautiful day.'”

Generations of weather-watchers later, we’ve added one more.

Ó Anita Garner