People often ask me what inspired me to move all the way across country, from California where I grew up, to New England ~ to an Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, so very far away from home, where they had this thing called winter. MUSICA? Well, the short answer is the break-up of my marriage in California and the strong urge to escape the pain of it. But the deeper answer is . . .Not just autumn, but all of it . . . everything New England seemed to offer (from all the books I’d read), deep traditions, romance and inspiration that comes with nature, the authenticity of the old houses that had seen so much~ it all seemed to represent a solid foundation where I hoped I could build a solid new life.
And no, 35 years later, I’m still not used to it. I don’t think I ever will be.
I still see the change of seasons as a miracle. Four-times-a-year for extra celebration, totally organic, not man-made, God provided, and real as real could be. So I thought I’d give you my “Best of Autumn,” just in cases you aren’t yet in the mood 🎃 ~ hopefully when this post is done, you will be, because what I want to do is help you . . .
Is that color possible in nature? No. Not possible. Probably the camera had a piece of red cellophane over it!!! Wrong. But that’s actually what I used to think when I was a child and would see photos of New England in the fall. It just couldn’t be real.
Now that I know better, you would think I would get used to it, but apparently that’s never going to happen. Looks like magic to me.
I’ve walked down a dirt road through the woods to the water almost every day of the last 35 years. The first five I did alone, then I met Joe, and we’ve done it together ever since, in all seasons. I told you, I love tradition. The over-and-over leaves an ownership imprint, and someday far into the future, Joe and I will haunt this place for eternity. When I wear this loosely woven sweater, I can tuck in stems of the wild things I find growing along the side of the road. 🍂Then of course Joe feels the need to hide in the bushes all the rest of the way home!
Is this not romantic? Sooo romantic, little cottage by the sea, we walk by it every day. Simple and surrounded by color . . . in the foreground is bittersweet, it grows wild and free, it makes a celebration where there might not normally be one. You see? Not my idea. It’s nature! We gather it to decorate our front door. 🍁
In the fall you can feel the icy breath of winter in the wind that blows leaves through the air. Black crows fly low across the road, cawing the whole way. Someday I will catch one with my camera!
My traditions hold inside the house too. My little rusty birds, garlands, wreaths, leaves, owls, birds, festoons, out of the boxes they come!
Then of course, there’s the dance of the tea towels . . .
I can tell you about the fall breezes, but here you can see it . . . and we can smell it too ~ and not only the fragrance of the sea ~ but as it flits around the Island it gathers perfume from everything that grows wild: goldenrod, clematis, wild apples and pine, blueberries, sandy beach plums, asters and bayberry. 🌻 As I wrote in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, “the salty breeze slips in and out of seashells, climbs tree trunks, dives into squirrel holes, slides along old porch rails, stumbles through the bittersweet, skips along picket fences, scoots beneath falling leaves, whistles past ancient graveyards, flits over and under dragonfly wings, and steals all the wishes off the dandelion puffs, flinging them in every direction, wishes for all.” It’s the pure romance of the seasons. 🍂
And my little bo-bo waits for me to come in.
Our very best tradition. Cat-loving people that we are. True blessings are all around us.💞
I brought in the last Just Joey rose of the season ~ in the little blue bottle Joe found while digging the hole to plant our Dogwood tree. And you can see our best tradition peeking out from the corner of the screen door.
The garden isn’t finished yet. I plant things that bloom late so we keep ourselves stocked in garden flowers for as long as possible, till the first freeze.
To some, marigolds are common, but they are the BEST when it comes to fall color right from the garden. Long-lasting flowers that know their job and do it well.
Lighting candles, part of the tradition of the season, for the shorter days and colder nights, wind beating our shutters against the house. And P.S.: LAST NIGHT!!! PBS was golden! The new season of The Durrells started (you would love it), and after was Poldark, and advertised was the new season of Victoria starting in January! So much to look forward to! Right now, while I’m writing you, I’m listening to the BBC production called Byron (as in Lord). I just spoke into my remote, and there it was!
More wind, crunch leaves, sweet smelling sheets . . .
This is a sandy driveway where the leaves have been driven over so many times they are imprinted. I thought it would make gorgeous fabric.
And we’ve been cooking too . . . this recipe cooks at 250 degrees for 7 hours! Makes the house smell heavenly. It’s Spicy Short Ribs, I made it for you last Christmas in another post . . . just click HERE and scroll to the bottom for the recipe. It’s so good!
And here’s the Marmalade tea bread! (Recipe is HERE, just scroll to bottom of this old post.)
All for my favorite thing, setting the table, with my purple Windsor Ware . . . and, here’s a little tip: flowered dishes look best with striped, plaid or plain-colored napkins.
Some things are a must at this time of year . . . homemade pie crust is one of them. I have to say, if you haven’t had a real homemade pie crust in a while, you don’t know what you are missing. Fill it with pumpkin . . . homemade is best! There is nothing like cooking and nurturing to make you feel 100% better about the world.
Am I right, or am I right?
I love this photo. It was on a door of a tea room we visited years back and I just love it ~ it screams halloween! 🕷 Or maybe I scream halloween. But definitely, someone is screaming! 😱
And this foggy day showed all the dripping little webs that normally you don’t even know are there. In our woods they’re on the ground, between every leaf and twig. . . sparkling in the mist and dew. 🕸
And now, about pumpkins . . .
We found these pumpkins at a craft show. They are easy to make, but you have to grow them and mark them while they are young ~ it’s so easy, you can put your family name on them, read HERE for a How To. . . it’s pure magic for children! 🎃 There are so many interesting pumpkins available these days. Below, the warty ones are called Knuckleheads . . . there are Cinderella and Lakota too, beautiful and fun to grow, remember for next spring! Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget!
I’m a star pumpkin girl myself, but Joe always does a few faces . . .
Don’t forget to put cinnamon and nutmeg on the inside of the top of your pumpkins for wonderful smells when lit.
And of course him. Casper. Our ghost. SUCH a tradition. This house would not be a house without our ghost. How many years have we had him now? Maybe twenty!
We have a street coming toward the house, with a stop sign out front, and for twenty years Casper has been in our upstairs window saying HELLO to everyone who goes by. I’ve never seen another one like him, but I think it might be possible to make one (not by me, but I think Joe could do it, or maybe you can! Or perhaps you have a Joe of your own who might like a project that will last forever) …. would you like some photos of his innards? I can do that!
You can get an idea of his frame by seeing the light through the cloth ~ its like a wire dress form. The cloth is cotton, starched to the nth degree, and lightly covered in the finest glitter. There are two tiny lightbulbs attached inside to the frame, top and bottom, and one inside the pumpkin all on one cord that we plug into the wall.
Here he is from the front, holding a pumpkin . . . which is also framed in wire ~ its fabric is felt.
There are two round frames, one on the bottom (which you can see in the photo above) which is what Casper sits on, the other is visible in that first picture ~ from the back ~ up toward the top of the head. And all the vertical wires are hooked to them.
The little arms are separate, and here’s how they are hooked to the main frame.
There are two lightbulbs fitted into the two round frames.
There’s a tear in the ghost fabric to hook the frames together, to hook the pumpkin to the ghost, and for the light for the pumpkin to go through. The pumpkin hides the tear.
You can see him up top center window.
There have been a lot of Autumns at this house. Tradition, authenticity, romance, endurance, security, dreams, and somehow, despite everything, a symbol for the continuity of life, the manifestation of my childhood faith in forever. Cue the Musica . . . 🎵 I would love to see how it looked inside on the day this photo was taken, what they were doing in the kitchen, go to the barn and see the horses … go for a ride in the carriage down to Main Street . . .
Gathered from the woods, from the farmstand and from Michael’s Crafts.
We are ready! Bring. It. On. We get a jillion kids at halloween. We have a responsibility to give back some of the magic we’ve been given.
Our other house decoration is our big BOO in the window!
Lovely wonderful bittersweet. Another miracle from nature.
Last year we were in England for the fall . . . I’m standing in the 13th century churchyard looking at the moon across from where our dear friend Rachel lives. Whoooo . . .
Here we are at Carrie’s darling house in Oxford! Lots of you know her from Twitter . . . go say Hi! Aren’t blue and orange perfect together?
And here we were, apple tasting with our friend Siobhan in the glorious English Countryside . . .
Perfectly wonderfully charming . . . an apple on every fence post . . .
Last October 19 we were busy setting the table and decorating the dining room in a house in Bath where we were staying (with Ray’s friends and family) to help celebrate Rachel’s birthday! Yes, balloons and hats and bunting, streamers and candles!
While we were doing that, she was waiting in the kitchen ~ no peeking! Drinking wine and overseeing the cooking of the birthday dinner.
Here’s Ray’s cake, with all of our rings on board, ready for her to make a wish and blow out the candles. It was a wonderful time and a luv-lee memory. And now, here we are, one year later! We can surprise her again, Girlfriends 🎉 . . . click HERE and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY 🎁 … or, HERE . . . or, if you live in the UK, go HERE, and get a sample of the amazing Sugar Moon Brownies she makes, packs and sends in the mail! Her birthday is on Thursday and I’m not going to say a THING . . . 🤐 shhhhhhh.💞
In the meantime, I go to my studio every day . . . making new things, painting for the 2019 calendar with my little three haired brush . . .
And this week, I’ve been choosing thread colors for my newComing soon . . . Have I told you? Yes, we found someone wonderful in the USA to make them for us . . . coming to our web store soon.
This is the newest . . . just finished and needs ironing, but I think it’s going to be darling! This is cross-stitch, but some of the kits will be printed too . . . Nothing like needlework to take your mind off the cares of the day and leave it to wander and dream in an aimless, do-something kind of way. Hand sewing and old movies go together like ice cream and cake. I speak from lots of happy experience. I tell you more very soon.
Jack’s been helping us plan our next trip to the UK! Maybe not helping, perhaps blocking.
Also, for you who’ve been asking ~ two of our “Sold Out” cups came back in! The manufacturer let us know they had some “leftover” decals ~ and asked if we wanted them to make a few more . . . we said we’d take them all . . .
So, there were two . . . the 16 oz. Martha’s Vineyard . . .
And the 11 oz. Autumn cup ….
We didn’t get many, but I hope this will fix it so that everyone who wanted one, gets one!
One more of my favorite fall traditions: I just bought the most delicious new flannel jammies. I love thick cottony flannel for our wintery nights . . . the best ones I’ve found are at Garnet Hill . . . . when I find something good, I need to tell my Girlfriends! 💋So off I go to write a new WILLARD . . . in case you don’t know, WILLARD is my Newsletter, you can sign up and every so often it will just appear in your mailbox . . . lots of interesting things to tell you about . . . it should be going out sometime next week. Until then my dear, darling Girlfriends, remember to choose love.