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Posts Tagged ‘Emily Byrd Starr’

geraniums front porch

The summer breeze is blowing through my kitchen: one window on the north wall, one on the east. Both are cracked slightly to let the evening air move through, and the blinds are pulled halfway down to provide some relief from the heat. It’s almost working.

I’m sitting at the blond wood kitchen table that dates from my college years, with a glass of iced tea and a vase of wilting sunflowers at my elbow. If I look up, I can see the gallery wall above the table, hung with an assortment of my favorite pieces of art: a vivid watercolor of Boston’s North End, three red maple leaves pressed under glass, a textured map collage made by a friend. The kitchen curtains, brightly patterned cloth napkins bought at Pier 1 and artfully arranged by means of hook and rod, shift slightly in the breeze.

I’m trying to memorize this view. It won’t be mine for much longer.

tulips table kitchen

We are moving again soon, for the second time in a year: to a third-floor apartment in a different Boston suburb than the one we’ve lived in for seven years now. This move, unlike the one we undertook last summer, is our choice, triggered by months of frustration with our current living arrangement. It’s also the result of my husband’s careful combing of real estate listings, several weekends spent driving around to apartment showings, and the help of a realtor named Dante.

Both of us are looking forward to the new place: my commute will be a little shorter and easier, the neighborhood seems beautiful and interesting, and the apartment itself has spacious rooms and a covered back porch. But, as we pack our lives into cardboard boxes (again) and recruit our friends to help us fill a moving truck, I’m starting to realize what I’ll miss about this place.

I’m back at Art House America today (where I write periodically), sharing a bit about our upcoming move and the things I’ve loved – to my own surprise – about the apartment we’ve lived in this year. Please join me over there to read the rest of my essay.

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After a trip, such as my lovely weekend in New York (complete with children’s lit tour), “normal” life can seem a bit staid, a bit dull, a bit – well – ordinary. Especially when you live in a place that’s no longer new – when you’re more inclined, perhaps, to take things for granted than to see them with fresh eyes.

Last fall, we had just moved to Boston and I was delighting in the Northeast fall – the changing leaves, the crisp days and chilly nights, the apple picking (and apple cider), the cafes and bookshops explored on long golden afternoons when I had nothing to do but wander around my new city.

This fall, I have a day job (and it’s been raining a lot lately), and I am, if not jaded, not always so attuned to the daily wonders of browsing at the Brattle or walking across the Common on my way to work. Sometimes the days can start to seem rather commonplace, or to run into one another with their commutes and errands and to-do lists.

But after a frantic day of emails and meetings this week, I remembered a bit of wisdom from our favorite red-haired heroine, when she arrives home to Ingleside after a trip to Avonlea:

“This is no common day, Mrs. Dr. dear,” [Susan] said solemnly.

“Oh, Susan, there is no such thing as a common day. Every day has something about it no other day has. Haven’t you noticed?”

Anne of Ingleside

Which made me think of a similar exchange between Emily Byrd Starr and her teacher, Mr. Carpenter:

“Stick to facts for three years and see what you can make of them. Leave the realm of imagination severely alone and confine yourself to ordinary life.”

“There isn’t any such thing as ordinary life,” said Emily.

Mr. Carpenter looked at her for a moment.

“You’re right – there isn’t,” he said slowly. “But one wonders a little how you know it.”

Emily Climbs

Good words to carry in my heart, for those not-quite-so-common, never-ordinary days.

May you have a delightfully not-ordinary weekend.

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