What a lovely day it was.
Today made me think about living in England. We lived there for a few years back in the late 90's out in the country. The summers were sumptuous. There is nothing like the beautiful rolling hills of the English countryside. The yellow rapeseed fields were so vibrant and shockingly yellow against the blue sky. I miss warm afternoons in the pub garden drinking cask conditioned ale and eating chips with vinegar. How everything was so old and settled and relaxed. We move too fast most of the time. The English perfected the art of a sunny summer afternoon. Come to think of it, they also perfected the art of a warm fire and cuppa tea on a dreary, rainy afternoon as well.
My husband reminded me "this is why we live in the Northwest. Days like today." He's right. We've lived many places over the past twelve years or so, but a sunny day in the beautiful Northwest is hard to beat. Just wish there were more of them!
Today I visited an Estate Sale of what must've been a lovely old lady. She was a school teacher, I'm guessing. Her home was neat and tidy, and her items were well taken care of. I found many old children's books, especially grammar readers, and a few books with beautiful german script (but since I'm not able to read German, I decided against buying them!) There were names penciled in many of the books. The lost art of careful penmanship, the kind I imagine any good teacher would use, was evident. In particular, I love to collect old books. There's something about the smell of old books that I love. I find it comforting. Her home felt very cozy. I walked away with an ancient dictionary and an illustrated book of children's poems.
I also found an old stamp set in an old Pall Mall cigarette box. The box was fantastic to begin with, but the tiny wooden stamps inside were very exciting to find.
There were old children's school desks, toys and games, carefully preserved doll clothes, vintage tea cups, a vanity set with a gold trimmed brush, comb and handmirror, and lots of fabric scraps and unfinished sewing projects (much like my own sewing room.) Outside I found some old wooden fruit boxes to take home and a muffin tin to house all my buttons. My favorite treasure was the school teacher's bag of letters, valentines, hand drawn pictures, class photos and student photos. I imagine her hanging onto these items, stuffed inside an old paper sack, to remind herself of a job she seemed to be made for, if her home is any indication of the kind of person she was. Orderly, organized, comfortable, full of enrichment.
Estate sales are my favorite. While it should feel unnerving walking into a stranger's house and paw through their things, there is something amazing about handling the material possessions these people left behind. They are normal everyday items, but they tell a story. Individual pieces sometimes speak louder than all the items put together. Finding that special something that speaks to me and connects me to this person, this stranger, is magical. A little piece of them, their essence, their taste, whatever you want to call it, gets to live on with me. We have something in common. It's not the same when you go to a garage sale or a flea market or antique store. Being in someone's home surrounded by what they've left behind is a completely different context and a different experience entirely.