Chatter Cottage: Lemonade Days

IMG_20160626_074414302I’ve always loved a front porch, especially those big wrap around white porches. Chatter Creek has a small front porch, but plenty room for two rockers and lots of flowers. The deck is in the back on the creek and when the sun hits the front porch too hard, the deck is cool. When the deck is cool we can rock on the front porch in the sun and sip lemonade.

Let’s see, lemonade reminds me of scratched knees from too much tree climbing, crickets chirping and birds waking me at dawn. I guess when I think of lemonade I think of front porches and being a kid. I wasn’t a country kid, I was raised in New York City but I went to the country most summers and envied all the other kids who got picked up by big yellow school buses, had country lanes to walk and big back yards to play hide and seek in. I played hide and seek in the living room with my mother who always found me behind the wing chair.

I love the country, all seasons but especially in summer when you can’t even see our house there’s so many trees that hide it, that kind of envelope it in long leafy limbs. We’ve got a family of ducks that swim up and down stream in the creek and a barrage of birds, some of them quite unexpected like the big brown ones with long flat beaks.

I could be a country girl listening to the music of my soul in the stillness and forgetting that there are things like politics and hatred and unrest. I could walk the lanes with the words of my next novel swimming around in my head like the distant remembrances of my life. When I’m in the country I dare to dream. I don’t need Armani suits or earrings from Tiffany or season tickets to the Met. I just need a pail of dirt, a pretty flower and a glass of lemonade to sip on my front porch as I watch the deer across the road, visit with the hummingbird and kiss back the breeze that rustles through my hair.

Chatter Creek Cottage: This One Is For You, Dad.

IMG_20160619_082518159_HDRMy father would have loved this old lawn mower that I found in the shed buried behind some Tiki lights. This is just a guess, of course but probably a pretty good one. I will never get to ask him that question, he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was thirty-two years old and he died six months later. In two months I would turn eleven. A light went out in my life that never got turned back on after my father died. But I’ve got memories, I’ve got images and conversations buried deep within my consciousness, words I’ve tried over the years to recapture, words unfortunately lost to history, as rusty as this old lawn mower.

We used to walk together in the garden that my grandfather built and he probably tried to teach me the difference between a lily and a rose. We used to fly paper airplanes in a Brooklyn Park, I wonder what he said to me on that old park bench, what I said to him. I do remember what he loved though- his boat, his pipes and cigars, his gabardine suits, Jimmy Cagney (I’m told he did a great impression). He loved New York City and Central Park, flowers, books and music. He loved me and I loved him.

People who knew him have said he was the nicest person they ever knew. I’m not my father’s daughter; no one is going to say that about me. But he tried to teach me compassion, and unselfishness. He tried to make me understand that kindness is greater than envy. Some days he would have been real proud of me, other days he would have been angry and he would have tried to explain why I was being mean or insensitive as he did so many years ago when I was just a kid and thought he didn’t understand things.

My Dad is the prototype for a book I’ve got coming out about three generations of women. It will be told in three books under the title ‘The Fournier’s’. He’s in the second book called ‘Glamour Girl’. I wrote him as I remembered him – his hazel eyes, his broad shoulders, his tall, lanky frame and most of all, his gentleness and his boyish naivety.

For those of you whose fathers are still living, whose father’s saw you graduate high school, win awards and grow up smart, maybe even pretty. Bless yourselves because you are blessed.

Yes, my Dad would have loved this old lawn mower with its wood handle and rusted blades; most likely they are the same age, my Dad and this beautiful antique. I remember that shop he had in Brooklyn, all those old tools, old boats he used to build. This mower is for you, Dad, it’s out where I can see it, out where I can see your smile, out where I can love it and love you.

 

Chatter Creek Cottage: A Sad Day

IMG_20160612_105844719Before the tractor Parade got started on Lower Main Street in Calicoon we were just waiting on more of those fabulous vintage tractors to make their way through town. But then I got a Breaking News email and couldn’t wrap my head around the sadness of it all. The fact that someone on a No-Fly list could purchase a weapon of that magnitude is beyond me. That fact that people do the things they do is beyond me. The fact that we live in a world where too many people hate too deeply is a very sad reality. I wish we all loved too deeply. When I’m at wonderful Chatter Creek Cottage I’m separated, for the most part, from all that violence, that everyday news we hear about people who tragically harm other people. Sometimes I just can’t separate.

To the families and friends of those killed and hurt in Orlando this weekend I cannot imagine your grief. My heart is with you all, and my prayers. To hate people for being happy and lovely and innocent, to hate what you don’t understand and can never know because you live in darkness, is your tragedy and your sickness.

Chatter Creek Cottage: A Rose by Any Other Name

IMG_20160531_074441149Well, I was going to go out this morning and take a beautiful close up photo of these smashing white roses in front of the cottage but got pelted by rain, fog and humidity. It’s still beautiful in the Catskill Mountains though. Had a most enchanting drive from Hortonville to Livingston Manor on Saturday and discovered that rolling green hills, lonely roads and small towns still makes my heart sing. Found a charming nursery and bought petunias and zinnias that are lime and wine. I can’t wait to see those babies come into bloom. The petunias have been planted around the birdbath and they make the backyard look happy. The petunias are varying colors of purple but I’m going back for the African sunsets. African sunsets, you get the picture.

God knows I am happy here, especially here with all my worries drifting down stream as if I hadn’t a care in the world, no money matters to darken my day, no fears of not being good enough or smart enough for this that and the other. Among all this color and the fragile and seductive call of summer I am aware that everything is perfect. I am even perfect with my city bag of neurosis and discontent. I took the bag out to the birdbath and buried it under the purple petunias. I walked over to the road and the scent of roses made me feel infallible. I had a glass of pink rose and watched my zinnias wink at me and promise that their beauty, all wine and lime flowers, was as close as the clear sweet breeze on my brow. Life is not about the rush; it’s about the repose. Life it not about the scream, it’s about the whisper…….of wind and flowers budding and fascinating nature putting on a show. And within the stillness I find that my life is whole, that I am whole and my regrets are few and my moment here upon the stage of life is what it is meant to be. Keats said it well, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye need to know on earth and all ye need to know” Think of the flowers, that is all ye need to know. Yep, in the end as it was in the beginning that is all ye need to know.