Friday, July 19, 2013

Simple Country Pleasures Part II

The joy of discovery...

Since moving to our new home in the heart of the national forest, we have made an awesome discovery-- a real-life swimming hole!  It may not look like much from the photo above, but the wide spot in the middle of the image is actually deep enough to completely submerge oneself in and will accommodate at least 2 people on lounging floaties quite nicely.  The creek is spring-fed and remains refreshingly cool.  The water here is pristine, with a limestone creek bed and an abundance of small fish that gently nibble at one's water shoes.  

This is the same creek that I can see from my windows, but the swimming hole is further downstream and has to be reached by winding past forested hills and valleys on narrow gravel roads.  This drive to the swimming hole is part of the fun for me.  It is way out there, surrounded by two designated wilderness areas which are part of the nearly 300,000 acre national forest.  On its website the Illinois Sierra Club says, "Hutchins Creek (eligible for designation as a Wild & Scenic River) has formed a wide, flat valley bordered by steep forested slopes, rocky bluffs, and V-shaped creek drainages. This area is relatively undisturbed by humans, with a couple of old farmsteads and cemeteries the only evidence of past human usage of the land. The mixed mesophytic forest and the clean, spring fed creeks, typical of the Ozarks, provides habitat for wildlife including neo-tropical songbirds, wild turkey, deer, bobcat, and many smaller mammals."  

The Sierra Club failed to note the possibility of our most recent, encounter.
 Last weekend we headed over to swimming hole and there were a couple of young families there-- see the umbrella and chair in the left of the photo.  When we got out of the car with Sadie, our border collie/lab mix, we were cautious because it seemed there was another dog tethered to a tree up ahead, which was odd.  Most dogs we meet around here are off leash, so we were concerned that perhaps this one was a bit aggressive.  My husband went ahead to check out the situation, and he came back to the car with a sly smile on his face.  "It's a pig," he said.  "A what?" I asked.  "A pig," he repeated.  I walked up and sure enough, there, attached to a long rope was a miniature pot-belly pig.  I asked if I could pet him, and his owner said sure.  His name was Elmer.  As I petted him, his tail wagged non-stop.  In fact, his tail wagged the entire time we were there.  He was quite friendly and calm.  Sadie sniffed him and, uninterested, ran ahead to splash in the creek.   

Small though it may be, this swimming hole seems magical to me.  It is a far cry from an over-crowded, noisy, public swimming pool.  Out here we are serenaded by birdsong and calling frogs.  I think about the early settlers whose farm houses are still seen on these gravel roads and imagine the joy and relief they must have gotten from a dip in the creek's cool waters.  When I swim here I feel a connection to them.  I also think about the protection of our national treasures and am so thankful for the establishment of a national forest system that preserves the sacred beauty of this area, and others like it, in perpetuity.   Barring any disasters, natural or otherwise, one hundred years from now this area will look as it does today, as it did one hundred years ago.  I am but one creature whose life has been enriched by the clear waters of this creek, like one small fragment of limestone scattered along the creek bed.  I realize how intimately connected all life forms are and am struck by the universality of our most simple, basic needs.   

Wishing you a weekend of simple pleasures.
Until next time...


Monday, July 15, 2013

Making progress and thoughts about painting wood...

Little by little, I have been putting my stamp on this new home of ours, and it feels wonderful!  Last weekend I did some more painting, focusing this time on the wall of wood below the open staircase.

My husband had been outside mowing the lawn when I began working on this project.  I had told him weeks ago that I planned to paint the knotty pine walls.  He had said at that time that this was fine with him, but when he walked in the door on Friday afternoon, hot and tired, to get a drink of water and saw me painting the wood walls, he GASPED.  Audibly.  It took him a second to recover.  I was very casual and just said,"Hi, are you thirsty?"  He asked if I was sure I wanted to do this, and I said that of course I was sure.  Besides, at that point I was committed.  There was already paint on the wall.  

So, we went from this below... 

where the sunlight, along with the natural pine on the floor and walls, gives the room a very yellow cast,  

to this...

where my boston fern looks so very lush, and the yellow cast is gone.

When I told some friends I was going to paint the wood, they, too, had a similar reaction to my husband's, although not quite as audible.  I have written about painting wood walls before, and how many people find them to be sacred, where it is akin to sacrilege to blemish them with paint.  I am of the mind that your home should reflect your deepest desires and fantasies.  In the cottage of my fantasies, all the wood walls are painted.   The texture of the tongue and groove planks actually is more evident when the wood grain is not visible.

When I painted the drywall, no such gasp was heard by him.  Others cautioned me that painting things a shade of white would ruin the character of the cottage.  I disagree entirely.  The walls I have painted seemed to recede a few feet after the soft white paint was applied to them.

My efforts to banish the sage green from the house are on-going.  The wall with the patio doors is about 20' tall.  I haven't yet had the gumption to bring in the extension ladder and completely move all of the furniture out of the way in order to paint.  One must work up to these things slowly.  Eventually I know that I will wake up one day and decide I simply cannot take it anymore, and that will be that.  That is typically my way.

So, as I stated at the beginning of this post, little by little things are coming around to being the way I want them to be.  Decorating houses, like picking a partner, requires that one stay true to oneself, and not follow the preferences and tastes of others.  After all, we are the ones who live with our choices, not well-intentioned friends, and not all mistakes are easily fixed by covering up them up with a coat of paint.

Until next time...


Friday, July 5, 2013

Simple Country Pleasures

Photos from a summer morning walkabout.

Wishing a wonderful weekend to you all.

Until next time...



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