Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The February House
"China tea, the scent of hyacinths, wood fires and bowls of violets - that is my mental picture of an agreeable February afternoon."
~ Constance Spry
I would add a ticking clock to Miss Spry’s requirements for the February Home although one day in 2003, my handpainted floral clock ceased its ticking at 2:20 sharp and nary a tick has been heard. Unrepairable, the clock is lovely to look at and is steadfastly precise twice a day, so it retains a spot on the mantel. Prettier still is a clock that declares the hours with soft chimes, as if someone has rung a small bell from a distant room. It may seem that I have many opinions as to what makes an agreeable February Home because in the depths of winter, I need a sense of an invincible summer in order to carry on.
Light now lingers late in the afternoon but traversing the moody dusk that comes just before nightfall makes me feel blue. So I light candles and take to drinking tea at that bewitching time. A proper tea tray with some fruit and a cookie cheers me fine. As well, the introduction of citrus flavors in cooking is akin to adding summer sunshine and fends off the blahs. Hot couscous salad tossed with olive oil, nuts, and mandarin orange slices is a February staple at my house. I also whip up a creamy ambrosia with pineapple (email me for recipes).
February is a lovely time to introduce flowers to rooms. With a few ice cubes placed on top of the dirt for sustenance each Sunday, an orchid plant will highlight my dining table for months. I love the white-blossomed ones tinged with pink the best, but tulips...tulips must be cheerfully yellow or hot pink. When I look at their bobbing heads, I am reminded of brave Lottie Wilkins from Enchanted April, a favorite springtime film. Upon being scolded by her husband for squandering money on flowers that only die, she cries out, "But I love the color!" - so bleak and cold was London. Lottie got her yellow and hot pink and a veritable rainbow of colorful blooms later, in Italy.
Hyacinths will perfume the entire house. They shoot up quickly and merely opening the front door just a crack makes me feel as though I have entered an earthy fragrant greenhouse. It's a nostalgic scent that promises happy things to come - like spring's abundant lilacs and lily-of-the-valley.
I've never been able to get an African violet to live longer than a minute but many women have the Midas touch with them. I love the way violets look when they are grouped together in large Chinese bowls set near a window. If anyone knows the secret to growing violets, do fill me in. In February, they appear so hopeful as they turn their faces toward the sun. And isn't that what we are all trying to do just now?
I like airier music in my February Home. My dark Baroque cd's are hibernating next to the Christmas ones as I listen to my favorite soundtracks instead. I adore Joshua Bell’s plaintive violin in Ladies in Lavender, and also Miss Potter and Sense and Sensibility. The melodies add a soft and peaceful backdrop to my home. And lest I forget, mohair throws in pastels or sherbets lend delicious color to a room and warm my toes during long tranquil reading sessions as the snow flits just outside my window.
If there are things you cannot live without in your February Home, do tell here...