Yankee Love

May, 2018 issue

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.

Covers of the seasons

 

 

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.

 

The kitchen in the center of this old house

I’m still unpacking in this new-to-me-hundred-year-old house in the redwoods.  Every now and then I climb onto a stool in the very large kitchen, stir some cream into my coffee,  and count my blessings.  I’ve had galley kitchens, pullman kitchens and whatever other glorified descriptions we use for “too small.”  One of my favorite memories is of my  first kitchen as a family lady.  It was a big, square room in a very small house.   

Over the years we moved on up and up and up to modern and big and fancy – but nothing ever took my fancy again like that old kitchen where my daughter’s first birthday party took place.

Nothing makes home home-ier for me than a kitchen that is the center of everything.  Modern houses have plenty of designated spaces for appliances and a granite counter for homework and a breakfast nook attached, but in these old places you can’t get from one spot to another without  going through the kitchen and I like that fine. 

In this house the kitchen is by far the biggest room.  It’s not fancy, but it’s welcoming. It has some funky built-ins.  A pantry and some curiously made shelves.  Rustic?  Oh my yes.  It takes  special mojo to keep the pantry door closed and leveling the new fridge into its spot is a joke. Nothing is level here.  

A side note:  Speaking of old houses, writer, Edie Clark, shares information about her restoration of the vintage “Mary’s Farm” in New England – with all its attendant quirks.  She’s featured in Yankee Magazine as well as her own books, and she blogs regularly at http://www.yankeemagazine.com/blogs/marysfarm/ Edie’s stories are like fairy tales  for a Californian who loves history.  Not the ice on the pond and the shoveling of snow followed by the mud season, but the Currier & Ives  pictures that make the farm look like a Christmas card all winter. 

Back to my old house.  When this cottage was built, there weren’t ranch-style residences with a long hallway.  That was suburban architecture and back then there  weren’t suburbs. There were no family rooms.  No special acvitity spaces.  The kitchen was the only space large enough for the family to gather – except, I guess for the homes of the very rich  and their grand palaces, with which I have only a tourist’s acquaintance. 

I like to think this little house reflects the way many families lived in ye olden days – tight but accommodating.  The kitchen stayed warm all day, what with the cooking and the big table and the coffee and tea brewed all day long. 

I’m a decent cook.  Mostly Southern food.  I’m already stewing-up and frying up a mess-a-sumthin’, but my daughter’s a far more accomplished cook and I can’t wait to taste what she’ll make when she visits.  This Old House makes a person think of things like that. 

Ó Anita Garner 2009