With temperatures in the negatives and a wall of snow accumulating at our doorstep, I’ve had a lot of quiet time lately. I’ve been attentive to all the little gestures and rituals that have become so familiar to me. Whipping toothpaste on my brush in the morning. Putting away dishes as I wait for my tea to steep and my oatmeal to heat up. Touching the soil of the plants as I pass, to check if they need water (they often do). These motions, which have become second nature, give me a sense of relief and confidence. They make me feel settled.
My rituals were very different, no more than a month ago. I’d rush to throw on some clothes, then drive half an hour to work. At night, I would check my email while jumping into pajamas, then slump into a deeply satisfying sleep. The days flew by. Now they tick. Literally–right now, I can hear the ticking of all the clocks in the house, disconcertingly out of tandem. I love this phase of my life.
I think these motions will be different in a year, or even a few months. Stasis, then change. Then another bout of stasis. These cycles delight me. They make me eager to see what’s next, even as I’m enjoying the stillness of the moment.
We have a New Year’s Eve tradition. We turn on an epic movie (something with elves or wizards) and have a long, indoor picnic, just the two of us. The fondue pot burbles with cheesy gold, the pretzel bread is crisp and hot, and the cork gets popped with its usual celebratory flair. We always flag around 11:30 (late-night owls we are not), but try to soldier on through the last half hour.
When we started this tradition four years ago in our little turn-of-the-century apartment in Chicago, Dan hid my engagement ring under the couch, where it would be accessible through the night. He was brave that year. We were watching possibly the most unromantic scene in the most unromantic movie (a bloody orc battle in The Lord of the Rings) and I was in an inexplicably bad mood (if a human being can growl, I growled), but he still reached for the ring. Still told me all the things he’d planned to say. Like I said: brave.
So the new year has always been full of promises for us. Promises to be more loving, more adventurous. To grow together, to be the most joyful and creative versions of ourselves. All promises worth keeping. May 2014 be as full as 2013!
We’re up to our ears in the stuff. But one of the things I’ve begun to appreciate about living in the Snow Belt is the impossible, intoxicating quiet that comes with this weather. There’s such movement (the constant fall of flakes, branches sliding ever-lower from the weight of their new burdens), but it’s all somehow shrouded in silence.
In the heart of this gentle blizzard, I’m currently…
Reading: Miriam’s Kitchen and The Telling Room
Drinking: endless cups of vanilla chai; plus a Belgian ale after-hours
Smelling: a whiff of the South from a magnolia candle on my desk
Thinking about: upcoming visits with some beloved friends
Craving: a blanket and my bed
Stay warm, wherever you may be!
When we first bought our house, I went on and on about how much I loved its little nooks and crannies. There were dozens of spots to sit by a window—places to put mugs of tea, half-read books, vases of flowers. Places to relax and chat and daydream. Quickly, I found that my favorite spot was in my second story nook: a home studio high up in the trees.
There, I could be alone with my thoughts, with my music humming in the background, the scrabble of squirrel feet across the branches. I’ve dreamed up many big ideas here—some feasible, others a bit out of reach. It’s served as my personal creative retreat.
Especially since I’ve begun my own freelance business, my office is I spend the most time. This Second Story Nook, a natural extension of my home studio, will be a place to gather inspiration about all things related to design, books, food, and lifestyle. It’s the quietest, yet liveliest corner of my home.