Sweetheart’s Mama gave me this for my birthday maybe three years ago when we were still living full time in Brooklyn. The Davis Hill Weather Stick. A short wizenedy looking stick with a tag on it that proclaims:
Weather Sticks will tell you what the weather is doing. With good weather they will point to the sky; and when things aren’t so pleasant they will point to the ground. We don’t know why, but the Old Timers had faith in them and that’s good enough for us.
This little missive was followed by instructions to mount the stick outdoors, nail side up, under an eave or window frame, somewhere you can see it from inside. Now, Sweetheart’s Mama is an awesome lady. She saw this strange and ancient meteorological thang and thought “I know just the almanac-reading girl who would like a funny old fashioned item of use and beauty such as this”. She might not have realized, though, that the weather stick was a tiny call to action. In our sweet old Brooklyn brownstone basement we didn’t have an eave, our windows had bars, and the only thing we could see from inside was other people’s legs as they walked by on the sidewalk. Hardly a place for a natural barometer, hardly a place where the coming of rain means nothing much but a proliferation of guys selling cheap umbrellas outside of the belching mouths of the subways. So I’ve been carrying this stick around for, literally, years, it lived on the dashboard of my car for a while (a wanderlust call to arms) until I finally hung it last week. Outdoors, nail side up, under the eave of the shed with the sunflowers painted on it, where I can see it from inside. And this morning, as it is quiet and grayly raining, it points down. And tomorrow, when the sun will shine, it will point up. Just as it should.
Today it’s far too cold to show you the myriad of outdoorsy goins on that got tackled over the weekend, so, as often is the case on these blistering March-is-certainly-coming-in-like-a-lion-clear-and-bright-and-face-hurtingly-cold days, I thought I’d turn inward and share a few little spots around the house that have been giving me pause with their loveliness. First, the orange-red tulips Miss Rav got for the kitchen, the primroses with the compass Mama just brought me (and necessary Rosebud salve) on my bedside table, and the littlest mortar and pestle, just waiting to grind up the cumin seed that lives in the bird jar.With spring on its way, the house is in too much (eternal?) chaos for room tours, but I do so love these little glimpses. More to come, every week I think.
So, in the golden hour, Mama and I drove out into the sun in search of the mythical, the soft-needle Christmas Tree, a bushy varietal of great white pine that in New York City might as well be the great white whale. Miniature Forests pop up on every street corner there, but every last one of them only offers sharp needled balsam firs. We drove into the sun out to an old nursery up Afton that, despite rumors to the contrary, apparently no longer sells pumpkins or turkeys or wreaths or trees (pointy OR soft) or any other assorted holiday ephemera but is actually now a mushroom farm. Ok. Luckily, sweetly, the young stoned mushroom farmer came out and told us that there was a place right down the road that sold trees. “I don’t know if they sell the soft ones, but they sure are nice”. We traced our steps back and around and right, lo, by the side of the road were gorgeous orderly rows of fat soft trees growing, ready to be tagged and cut.The wonderful proprietor, who lives in a big, pretty farmhouse with a circular drive right behind the trees, told us to go pick the one we wanted and he’d be down to help us cut and pack it. We walked up and down the long rows, weighing the merits of each tree like Old Hat, New Hat (too leafy, too lumpy, too beefy, too bumpy, too Charlie Browny, too pointy, too townie), until we came upon the one. The slightly skinnier, somewhat awry, quite jaunty, gloriously fluffy, and perfectly soft one. The one that had the birds nest in it. Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid, Feather by Feather the bird builds its nest. We’ll take it, this is the one for home.
So, I know this isn’t the best picture…. but I couldn’t NOT share jar system 1.0 with you! This is what I was doing at 1am with a glass of wine, happy as a little clam, when I should have probably either been sleeping or trying to locate any.other.pair of shoes in the packing melee besides these painted clogs that I’ve been wearing everywhere because they were inexplicably packed in the box with the jars and so got unpacked first (top priorities, people):I’ll be slipping these puppies on and heading down to Williamsburg today to get some Colonial style pine and magnolia and boxwood swag for my banisters (!) that my Ever-Lovin Mama ordered for me in anticipation for the simultaneous arrival of a) me here and b) Christmas everywhere. Merry Merry!
So, this is my woodpile. The big kahuna arranged for two separate deliveries of a half cord of mixed hardwood to occur in the same afternoon (the trucks passed each other in the driveway). The first load delivered and joyously/haphazardly stacked by two young hirsute hippies who, in addition to the firewood operation, have a band, a furniture shop, and an antiquing business on the side. They spent their time unloading discussing how hard it is to find good drummers (this seems to be a universal conundrum across state lines?). The second load delivered by a “You’re my boy, Blue!” look-alike with a turquoise bandana, shoulder length white white hair, and a shirt with howling wolves on it under a denim jacket. A good spectrum of dudes to have on call. I dallied to get a tarp to cover it, because I liked going out there and looking at it, walking around it like it was a horse I might buy, picking the best pieces for my little nightly load. I felt like I was living in this tumblr. But then there was snow in the forecast and my practical side prevailed. When I got to the store, all they had was camouflage. One left.The sweet angel of a man at the small, local, awesome hardware store (who keeps a bird behind the old, wooden counter, and also cut me a length of carpet tape on the house to see if it would be strong enough to hang my knife rack without drilling into the brick) told me that ever since Sandy hit, he hasn’t been able to order any new tarps larger than 6×8 because they’re all being funneled into New York. “They need ‘em more there then we do here, at least until spring” he said. Truer words, sir, you have no idea. So. I am now the proud owner of a 12×16 Camo Tarp. Over the winter it’ll keep my precious woodpile safe and dry and, hell, come spring I might just put on an American flag bikini and rig up a nice lil slip’n'slide with the thing. The best part is that now (duh) it’s pretty well camouflaged, which is actually quite nice.
Now that the dust is (literally) settling around here, now the incredible joy of nesting projects begins! I have a serious long list of things I’d like to do (and finally the space and chance to do them! ay yi yi yip yip yippee!), ranging from hanging picture rail to building a series of tiny houses off the grid in the woods, compound style. A.Girl.Can.Dream. In the meantime, though (until we see if “bush hog”, “chainsaw”, and “ridiculous artisanal city axe that now actually kinda makes sense” make the cut on my Christmas list), there are some easy-to-execute little ditties that I can’t wait to tackle. First up: Jar System. Did I tell you? This house has a walk-in pantry (*passes out for a minute*). Here, some inspiration.
I have something I’ve been meaning to tell you. But then Sandy came along, and the election, and, well, I had some other things I really wanted to say. So. The BIG NEWS. After much discussion, Sweetheart and I are moving into this house. An old farm house with creaky floors and painted ceilings, exposed beams and milk glass fixtures on a decent passel of land that slopes down to a windy, woodsy creek. Because we need space and air and the warmth of a wood fire and a big silence around us where it’s just us but also the joyous noise of a room just for music (!) and a kitchen full of family and a view of the mountains and enough land for a sustaining garden and bees to start and chickens to follow and maybe a goat when it’s really time to settle down and all of the sweet and simple things that shouldn’t just be for vacation. BUT never fear, beloved Brooklyn, because we are ornery and require decent chinese food, because even though she’s been battered around a bit (and she’s battered us around a bit), we aren’t through with New York yet. So, we are also moving from our current apartment into one right up the street, keeping a place in our hearts and our neighborhood, a Brooklyn brownstone floor through right above this guy:BIG NEWS, right? Wanderlust vs. Homesickness, City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, Brownstone vs. Farmhouse, we just couldn’t decide yet. So, we’re going to try for both. Posts here will be fewer and farther between during our big move(s)—which also includes finding a home for unscathed furniture for the flooded Rockaway house, just for fun— but you can follow our adventures over on Instagram (@featherbyfeather) in the meantime. In love and nesting.
How brilliant is this: whenever my dear friend Kitty has a dinner party or an impromptu brunch or (in our case) a weekend-long carnivale of kitchen-and-wine goodness, she writes the occasion and the what-we-will-eat on a plain card, dates the back, and hangs it on a little hook for reference. Whenever the feast is over, she adds the card to the little stack of its brethren. Reference as a useful tool for the future, Good Meals as events of import worthy of record. As someone who loves list making and food making, ephemera saving, AND hanging-pot-open-shelving-situations, I think this might just be something I need to start doing.
On our way out to spend Memorial Day at Sweetheart’s house in Rockaway we drove past Floyd Bennett Field. I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with the old airfield (see here and here). How interesting, then, to discover this amazing photographic series “Found in Nature” by Barry Rosenthal: collections of items and objects found out at Floyd Bennett Field. This weekend, on that brilliant, sunny, fresh-hot birth of summer day, they had a carnival set up: a Ferris Wheel, a funny purple roller coaster, big fat circus lights and cotton candy. How many new contributions must have been left behind…
Sweetheart and I just returned from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s amazing annual plant sale with this little red wagon load of delectable goodies for the backyard! Early Girls and Kirby Cukes, Packman Broccoli and Medusa Peppers, Rosemary, Thyme, and Lavande de Provence… like all gardeners at the beginning of the season, out wagon brims almost more with hope than with bounty. Luckily my ever-lovin-horticultural Mama is coming next week for any course correction if we city mice have bitten off more strawberries than we can chew.
ps. I always love the Botanic Garden, every time you go it’s different depending on the weather and the season. Today, the bluebell wood was in bloom. After last night’s hard rain, the trees were silent except for the occasional drop of water and the flowers were like a quiet sea. It was truly beautiful.