Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moorfowl,
Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers. . .
–“Whither Must I Wander”, Robert Louis Stevenson, set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, sung by Martha Wainwright
I was once told by a realtor that he could always tell, in the moment a prospective buyer walked through the front door of a house, if that person did not care for the house at all and would not consider buying it. Since that time, I have observed my own reactions upon entering a house for the first time and I have come to the conclusion that there is a lot of truth in what he said. Still, I cannot say exactly what it is that causes this quick judgment to occur. Perhaps it is a sense of the way light and air move through the house or the division of the house into rooms, hallways and open areas. Perhaps it has to do with the relationship between the interior of the house and the exterior and the ease or difficulty of moving from one to the other. I am sure that students of architecture or interior design have more precise ideas of what makes a house attractive. Of course, no house has a universal appeal. Moreover, no matter how convinced we may be that we know exactly what we are looking for in a house, we may surprise ourselves by falling in love with a house that satisfies none of our stated criteria.
We have just moved from one house to another. The two houses have very few similarities, and yet, I felt at home in the new house right away. Of course, having our own furniture, books and pictures around us makes the place seem familiar. But there is also a feeling that this house has been inhabited by someone who liked the same things I like. No, I haven’t glimpsed a shadowy form passing down the hallway wearing gardening gloves and carrying secateurs. It is much more plain than that.
Aside from the evidence of the garden itself, there are the delights of my new room. It is small, but ever so cozy. It is a retreat, with all that I require: a dresser, a comfortable bed, a bedside table with a reading lamp, shelves for books and a clock.
More to the point, there are some delightful things about my room that I didn’t even notice the first time I looked at the house. In my room are the sure signs that this room once belonged to another gardener. To begin with, there are the curtains, in warm, bright hues: a vintage fabric in a repeating floral pattern. The flowers completely ignore the seasons, for tulips appear with poppies and bluebells with chrysanthemums.
On the wall next to the door, is a decorative light switch plate resplendent with pansies and the sweetest bee. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful light switch plate and now it is mine for a time, serving a mundane purpose, but giving me a disproportionate pleasure whenever I turn on the ceiling light. I think I will have to duplicate this charming scene in watercolour before too long. Or perhaps I will make it part of a larger garden with other sorts of flowers or perhaps part of a reprise of The birds and the bees. I consider all of these possibilities as I lie in my bed, glancing up occasionally from my book to admire my lovely light switch plate and my lovely curtains.
Just around the corner from the vintage floral curtains and just along the wall from the light switch plate, I’ve hung my small painting, “Vicki’s Garden”. It looks just as much at home here as I feel. The whole effect is cheerful and bright, but also calm and restful. The room feels like it is full of good energy. So, while winter rages outside and the bare branches of the oak trees sway in the wind, I drowse in my warm room and dream of spring flowers to come.