Some moments in the new house feel like camping or waking up the morning after an airline loses your suitcase – not sure where things are, not sure why I forgot to pack a few table knives.
But moving day went so well, three strong guys and one equally strong young woman swiftly loaded all the labeled boxes, furniture, outdoor chairs, and pots with plants into a truck and a huge trailer. By noon we were on Bainbridge, and by early afternoon our belongings stood stacked about the new house.
The mother of my young friend came right over and set to work unpacking boxes and shelving books in the living room, and our younger son arrived from the airport to help. (I am so grateful for every bit of help we had!) Our old friends who live on Bainbridge – a quick seven-minute drive to their house – welcomed us that evening with a festive meal.
The weather couldn’t have been better – moving day dawned clear and the sun has been constant since then – five days and holding. Because of the house’s orientation, early sunshine pours in our bedroom and upstairs, fills the living room and kitchen all day, and late in the evening disappears into tall trees.
When I started on my walk early this morning – the air cool, sky clear – buses and bikers passed me heading to the ferry, city bustle in a small town. The walk is a gradual downhill through town toward a newly opened piece of protected land, tranquil with trees, grass, and benches. I pass houses and gardens along the way, get glimpses of Eagle Harbor and early morning scullers, spot herons working on fragile-looking nests in a tall stand of trees, and circle back uphill to home.
In spite of surrounding houses, each of our windows reveals huge firs and deciduous trees just-beginning-to-leaf. A Japanese maple with golden-green leaves shelters our neighbors’ porch. Birdsong begins early, loud and lovely all day.
From my work space I look out at the remains of old garden plantings, and what our younger son called “some serious rhododendron business about to begin.” A wizened, but budding crabapple, a climbing hydrangea, lilac and daphne shrubs (small and scraggly, but still fragrant), and lily of the valley emerging from moss grow in the few feet between a narrow deck and fence. Invasive ivy, Scotch broom, and blackberries hang over the fence from the vacant (for now) lot next door.
Our younger son left Vivian Russell’s “Gardens of Inspiration” on the table where he ate breakfast. It’s really fun to encounter books anew, and no matter the small scale of this garden, maybe because of the small scale – I’m inspired!
In the middle of remodeling the Bainbridge house last December, our builder wrote from a holiday trip to Hawaii. He hadn’t been working on our house at all, but said his daughter had, and he attached a photo of the painting she made with a new watercolor set.
I love the painting in many ways, the perspective, the texture of roof and indication of clapboards, the dark door (still being negotiated at that point, but to become “Deep Mulberry”), and the leafy tree, blue sky setting. The young artist gave me permission to use her picture here, and I’m happy to post it – it seems to capture the spirit of the place.
More from there!
Down to the wire now – nearly ready for the movers. Our comfy home grows bare and hollow with rugs rolled up, shelves still dotted with photos and undealt with objects, but emptied of books and most dishes.
Boxes scavenged from recycling bins teeter in stacks everywhere –– Paul Newman’s stenciled face above one-liner labels about food for people and pets, small beer cases, and many, many Amazon swooshes. There are also filled-to-the-brim big bins ( iPhone auto-corrected into “bug buns” for a moment of levity).
We took a break a weekend ago to see “Leaning Into The Wind” – a new movie about the Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy who makes art with the natural world in the most endearing, non-destructive or intrusive ways. When I try to figure out what I love so much about him, his sense of wonder and his “stick to” stand out, along with the way he, by drawing attention to the details, expresses the emotion we feel for the planet’s beauty.
The film shows him interacting physically with his environment in ways we’ve not seen before – creating a striking line of rain-soaked leaves up a set of steps next to an Edinburgh street, climbing five or six feet up through a brambly hedge, and leaning into a violent body-stopping wind high on a heath.
After the movie my husband allowed as how it was time to traverse the seemingly impenetrable Northwest thicket of firs and native shrubs enclosed by our driveway circle – “there it is right out our door and never been crossed!” And I kept thinking how Goldsworthy would make something of this current house habitat – he’d pile his boxes artfully, stick the chunks of blue tape (indicating a possession to go) with more rhythm and consciousness.
But, like much of Goldsworthy’s work, that construct would be ephemeral – for as a friend wrote recently: “I hope the worst of packing is over and you can just get ready to unpack!”
In my small workroom two mismatched and battered metal file cabinets form the base to a desk. They want painting because in the new house, my even smaller work space will be right off the kitchen and much more in view.
So for several days (encouraged by the inviting blue plastic banker’s boxes provided by my new neighbor), I emptied the file cabinets. Paper, each piece once deemed important enough to archive, seems manageable and orderly when contained, but multiplies into a mess when liberated.
Some disposal decisions are clear. I don’t need years of sales reports from the gallery on Bainbridge (but they are nice to encounter), don’t need every greeting card ever received (but keep anyway). It’s hard not to keep a handful of airletters from my landlady in England with stories of my time there, or copies of emails from our sons, written from Antarctica or South America, or a marketplace in Nepal. Rereading slows things down. But the recycle pile grows.
So much paper, torn out magazine articles about houses or writing or artists, a file of little notebooks, worn and bent, once carried in a purse – it’s tempting to dip in to see what times they record – small originals of paintings, old show invites, newspaper tear sheets of garden articles, rejection letters dashing hopes, and happy words of acceptances.
A stamped envelope, addressed to my painter friend, makes me think I should stop and send her something. I discover an idea for a Christmas present, and walk in a little circle in my room, wondering where to safely put it.
One drawer contains the files from when we built this house, they should remain, but I debate the fate of the wrinkled-with-raindrops original drawings of the garden layout. Then I wander to a window to see hellebore, snowdrops, daffodils, and a ribes pink with blossom – that garden drawing come to life.
Approaching the rest of the room I realize that, over the years, things belonging together (office, framing, and sewing supplies, paintbrushes, tape, scissors, ink, rulers, colored pencils) have dispersed and migrated around this small space. Gathering them together with their kin is my goal as I assign these tools of the trade to their transport boxes. I put off tackling framed things squirreled away here and there.
And I’m derailed from this task in the same way I get distracted from real work – phone calls, appointments, things needing immediate (or so it seems) attention. I’m happiest the days I make a list full of small requests that, with focus, become accomplishments by the end of the day.
Isn’t that always the way, moving or not!