I once wrote some piffle about the only way to approach a garden is on one’s knees. While I was intimately and passionately involved in my garden at the time, clearly what I wrote was a piece of pretentious crap. I was miniaturist back then, both in my garden vision and in my frame. I preferred to see the small-scale details, the soil around perfectly deadheaded blooms and a weed-free bed.
I had completely forgotten about this pontificating piece of nonsense until I ran across it the other day in an old journal. What a difference, as they say, the space of some years makes. Having grown more billowy myself, I am no longer a miniaturist. And I now prefer to enjoy the grand sweep of the gardens from a distance – preferably from the porch, away from bugs and scratchy things. I think of the space more as a water color painting than as clumps of discrete plantings. And I find when the painting needs a bit more softening (to hide the ever encroaching weeds), a glass of wine is just the right lens to give it that diffuse look.
How we change over time. And I wish people would realize this. I cringe when I hear advice like: buy the best fill-in-the-blank-here sofa, china, rug, art you can – you’ll have it for a lifetime. I look at my wedding china now and think it reminds me of something someone would pick out if she were trying to pretend she is grown up. It’s utterly boring.
My advice is to buy what pleases your eye and doesn’t cost so much that you will feel bad when you want to change it out. Use it and enjoy it. Then pass it along and buy new. Tastes change. Times change.
This isn’t a call for crass consumerism or an apology for a throw-away society. It’s just a call to commonsense and to realize that what the 28 year old finds elegant, the 58 year old may find boring. Or what the 38 year old finds fresh, the 48 year old will cringe at.
All this came to mind not so long ago as The Hunter and I were on a mission. I wanted an area rug for the living room. After about 10 years of bare woods floors, I suddenly have a craving for a rug. This surprised me because when it comes to decorating, I am very much a minimalist. And I hate vacuuming.
I didn’t want to spend a lot of money (see my maxim above), but after several stores I was still rug-less and so we ended up at a funky store that sold dishes and furniture and some rugs. What I found was a chair, on sale, that I completely fell for. In between paging through the rugs hanging on rods, I kept walking back to the chair, staring at it, sitting on it, and looking at it from all angles. The Hunter was puzzled. We were here, after all, for rugs.
“Where are you going to put it?”
“I’ll move one of the living room chairs (plush swivel rockers that are so last decade, or maybe even the decade before that) upstairs into the library,” I told him.
And so I bought it.
On the way to the cash register to pay for it, I passed a sofa – a chocolate brown sofa. It had the right lines. It was the right size. And it was the right price. And it looked so much nicer, so much more soothing, than the 1980s purple and green plaid thing that currently occupied the living room. I asked if it would be going on sale. It would indeed, within the next 3 days. It was even more the right price. So I told The Hunter I would come back later and buy it as well.
The poor Hunter was now very puzzled. We had a sofa in the living room at home, and as far as he could count, we had enough chairs already. What we didn’t have, and apparently still didn’t, was a rug.
All things work out for the best. We did eventually find a rug so The Hunter was happy. And yesterday we bottled our first brewing of rhubarb vodka, which made both of us happy. The problem with bottling the first production of the year is that you feel obligated to have a taste and then two or three more tastes, and then you feel obligated to lie down. And then the afternoon drifts away. It was very nice drifting away on a soothing chocolate brown sofa.