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Vera Jane Cook

Vera Jane Cook

Chatter Creek Cottage & Rainy Day Sidewalks Blue

Chatter Creek Cottage is being painted as we speak. We’re not out this weekend in the lovely hamlet of Hotonville in Sullivan County, right outside of the historic town of Callicoon. Never heard of it? Doesn’t surprise me, it’s the best kept secret of upstate New York, five minutes away from the historic site of Woodstock and only thirteen minutes to Narrowsburg, prettiest little town around, and a hop, a skip and a jump from Pennsylvania, in case you like the way nature lies over the earth in Pennsylvania.

But enough of that, if you know the area then you know that Autumn comes in with a vibrant palate of colors in the Catskill mountains, colors that makes you feel that God is hiding somewhere beyond the red maple tree under your window and the golden crisp leaves that crunch under your feet. How can anyone deny that one madly creative genius called God didn’t have the need  to leave us with this metaphor for life? There is beauty in the sadness of what falls away.  Autumn whispers poetry in your ear, rhymes long forgotten, like the words you’ve uttered to the people you’ve loved and the words you sang when you were twenty-one and Joni Mitchell told the story of your life.

Winter with its icy blankets of snow, white lonely sloping hills that your dog runs through, kicking up her tiny legs and throwing splashes of white whiskers behind her. It’s the happy dance of being alive and feeling oh, so cold, so cold your chest aches but you love it, love it with that kind of pain that was once so agonizingly huge with loss, yet so beautiful with memory that time has yet to sweep it away. Winter is like that, a bit of a curse, a bit of an appreciation for the warmth of your fire and the glittering ice in Chatter Creek and the cold stark reality of your own creations.

Ah, spring, yes, Shelly, I know the Ode and I sing its praises as life leaps up to kiss me good morning and the world is making me feel that the pressures of yesterday have died with the sunrise. Spring is so joyous. Get out the black dirt and the garden gloves and be the artist you were meant to be, grow and nurture and admire the pinks and yellows and whites of spring. Grow a garden, grow many gardens and think of your life like that, that its in your control and its as beautiful as you can make it, and the animals that surround you are like roses and hydrangeas and lilac bushes, sharing the many variations of themselves.

Then summer comes so quietly, blue, blue days and heat that renews my energy and my spirit, the smells from backyards that make me hungry, the whir of bicycle tires beyond my door, the dreamy escape of lying in the sun and listening to birds that tell me I have no where else to go and no one to see but the friends who make my belly ache with laughter, friends who fill my soul with their enormous talents.

But what was I saying? Chatter Creek is being painted as I write, Rainy Day sidewalks is the blue for the living room, pictures of the interior next week. Also the history of how it came to be, how it seduced us for so many years. Very interesting. Chatter Creek is the name of the house, the creek itself is called the North branch creek and it runs behind the house. You can see it from almost every window. I set a novel in this house long before we called it ours. More to come on that next week.

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