She was saying it from the vantage of acquaintanceship, looking into my life from the outside, seeing the picture I showed her, of the old house lovingly remodeled, the dear husband who is talented and kind and hilarious and so very thoughtful, the two cats with more personality than their little bodies can hold. And surely to someone with two little kids at home and free time a far distant memory, my life of writing and artwork and frequent trips and neighborhood adventures must surely seem romantic and enchanting. She does not see the dishes that pile up more often than I'm comfortable admitting, or the tumbling tumbleweeds of cat hair that roll across our dusty floors, or the week-long dash of work and responsibilities and mismatched schedules that mean Sal and I only see each other for a couple of hours each day Monday through Friday.
Nonetheless, she was right. I had fresh strawberries and cream on waffles my husband made for breakfast this morning. The weather has been unbelievably perfect, all temperate air and sunny brightness and brilliant blue sky and we spent yesterday on the patio reading before family arrived for an overnight visit.
We made our dinner as a family and blew bubbles and built a fairy house in the backyard and stayed up late playing board games. After they left this morning, Sal and I spent our day on the back porch, surrounded by the oasis of our little patch of earth, doing artwork and being affectionately exasperated by the kitties, feeling awash with contentment. Dinner was easy-going, something on the grill and the rest pulled together from odds and ends, so that we sat down to a meal that could have featured in any magazine. There was a table with view and star lights for ambiance and pretty little dishes to eat from and a bouquet of flowers, and none of it required any sort of fuss, it just all happened, like magic.
Today and yesterday, I walked barefoot through my house, my sweet little cottage of a house, windows thrown open to let the outside in, and just took a moment to be in each room. To be and to be grateful.
Here is the front porch: view of steep forests and the green arc of a man-made sculpture, a rocking chair and a lazy swing as front row seats to a tiny little paradise.
Here is the dining room: all rich wood turned deep dark by age, anchored by tables customized with our own artwork, and in the wide window alcove, two kitties curled into one furry ball on the cushions put there just for them.
Here is the kitchen: inviting and warm, filled with layer upon layer upon infinite layer of every meal and treat made with loving care for four generations of families.
Here is the back porch: a view to rival the front with a table for two and a reading chair tucked in the corner alongside the flower pots full of cheerful daisies.
Here is the studio: a room of creative energy, meant for paint and clay and stories of imaginary places, a room that turns briefly to magnificent gold at a very specific time of day and magic becomes very, very real.
Here is the library: a refuge for books and long days of nothing but escaping into them from the comfort of an overstuffed chair, the place to be when it's cold and rainy outside, when the only things that can warm me up on the inside are a cup of hot chocolate and sleeping cat and a well-worn copy of my favorite book.
Here is the attic: a nook for reading and a nook for leisurely Sunday breakfasts, a bed dressed in luxurious sheets and a pile of pillows and a blanket made of feathers, set beneath the stars, where we fall asleep to the sound of foghorns when the mist sits so thick on the river that ships the size of small villages call to each other in the damp dark.
Here is the yard: filled with plants and trees and shrubs planted before us and others we planted ourselves, transformed to a little patch of forest, with beds of vegetables to one side and moss-covered walls we built by hand, and silvery bells tucked amongst the ferns chiming at the passage of a breeze or a raccoon or a hummingbird.
Yesterday marked 11 years since Hall House officially became ours. Today marked 23 years since Sal and I officially became a couple. Without even planning to, we celebrated both anniversaries with this, our charming life.