It is nine degrees outside, snowing hard and a bit windy; this is the kind of day I looked forward to when I made the decision to move to Upstate New York from Los Angeles nearly seven years ago.
Our house has many, many windows so we are able to see the scenery on most sides of the house, and much of it. Our dinning room has windows all along the north-facing wall, with a view of the barn, the yard, the field, and the woods out beyond. A couple of years ago we moved a vintage sofa from our sitting area (off the living room) into the dinning room. I love our dinning room, because of the furnishings and the windows and also because of the view we have when we are in it.
I remember the first Christmas I lived here, my son and daughter were here with us as well as my parents. A day or two after Christmas I made a bunch of southern biscuits (my grandmother’s recipe, tweaked a wee bit by me). We all sat around the dinning room table with biscuits, butter, and all kinds of homemade jams. It was snowing, and we had that view of the barn, and really just so much of our place here. That was a great morning and left a vivid picture of happiness spent with the people I treasure most in life in a place I have come to think of as heaven.
This room has changed quite a bit over the past several years. Back then we had the big dinning room table, a side table, a game table and some chairs and I think that was about it. We had not hung any photographs or artwork on the walls, the windows were hung with drapes that I can’t even recall at this moment … strange. The view was much the same as now, but the inside was a bare canvas ready to be imprinted with our lives.
The big old dinning room table that was in here before was recently replaced with a beautiful table, chairs, and serving cart my parents made together when they were on vacation years ago. The table top and chair seats are natural wood finished with layers and layers of verathane. The table legs, chair legs and backs are painted white, as are the legs of the serving cart. The legs of the table are heavy, curved and detailed as are the legs and cross bars of the chairs. The side table that was here when I moved in is still there, and now I know what I didn’t then: that is a piece my husband’s father refinished many years ago. The legs are sturdy and rather voluptuously curved. There is a large sail boat model of my husband’s on the side table, representing the love of water and boats he shared with his father. There is a hutch now, passed along to us by his mother when she passed away a few years back. Inside, the hutch is a bit crowded with Franciscan Ware in the Desert Rose pattern — a gift from his father to his mother their first Christmas after they were married right after World War II. On the shelf above that, the china given to my parents when they were married back in the early 50′s and on the top shelf the crystal they were given at the same time.
Under the windows on the north side of the room are two long, somewhat crudely made benches made from thick floor boards reclaimed by my husband’s father from the G.E. plant he worked at in Buffalo. The benches were really made for outdoor use over at our cottage, but I thought it was time to bring them indoors with a fresh coat of paint and to keep them protected from the elements. The old nicks and scuffs from years of use still show so they still look worn, but I have them painted with a couple of coats of a just-off-white paint (horseradish was the color name). They fit perfectly under the windows as if they were made specifically for the purpose they now serve. The benches are reminiscent of the kitchen table at my mother’s family farm house in North Carolina. There were thirteen children in their family, so they needed a huge table to hold everyone. The table was situated in the kitchen and they had picnic style benches along it for everyone to sit on rather than chairs. I have always wanted to replicate that, and though we have chairs at our table, the benches are there under the windows, reminding me a place and time I have fond memories of.
The vintage sofa is an original piece of furniture my husband’s parents purchased from a factory in Buffalo back in the 60′s–a piece of furniture he grew up with. I love having a sofa in the dinning room, it brings a warm sense of comfort and welcome to the space and this one does that especially well considering its history.
On the walls we now have a few of my paintings that have been completed in the past few years, some paintings and photographs by local artists, a couple of my son’s subway sign reproductions plus two paintings he did recently, photography we have shot over the course of the past few years, two paintings by my grandmother, and one by my father.
There is something of all of us in this room now, those of us who sat together having biscuits and jam on a snowy December day as we enjoyed the view of the barn on the farm I had just moved to, six years back looking forward at that time to whatever lay ahead. There are things we have all created and collected, been given, and enjoyed all here in a gathering room on an old farm that has stood now for about two hundred years.
It’s funny, I didn’t actually think about the dinning room this way until I started writing this post. We have been creating it as we go along, and over the years it has evolved into the room in the house that, more than any other room, reflects who we are, where we came from, and who we have become as a family.
What a perfect day today — the temperature, the snow, the view, the room and my reflections about it all.
Oh, and there was coffee too.
And now, the day is done. It is dark outside, the temperature is heading back down even lower for the night and snow continues to fall. It is truly a three dog night, as three dogs are sleeping comfortably along the floor at my feet and following the lines of the sofa. This has been a long, satisfying day.
It started for me at 5:00 a.m. when I got up to make some perfect coffee and sat down to work on my novel (I have been working on it faithfully each morning since I started the process a couple of months back). I have written this blog, enjoyed snow, been outside with the dogs, made some homemade oatmeal bread and a hearty soup. The kitchen has been cleaned, a little bit of business has been attended to and I have noticed many things to be grateful for.
I guess I was right. This really is heaven.
Love to you all, from heaven …