Such a day! MUSICA
Music’s playing, Vanna’s ready, (corduroy turquoise skinny pants, yellow gauze top, silver sandals, orange toenails ~ she must be freezing) ~ I’m ready too, are you?
You’ve been very patient, but now’s the time . . . Our little tea/winter/romance kit is going to one of you soon! “Silver Fish” (aka Vanna), has jumped into the vat of almost 5000 names (including all your wonderful comments from the Address Book Giveaway, really Girls, you are too ← much♥). She is scissor-kicking to the bottom, the names are whirling and sloshing around like the inside of a laundromat washing machine. I think she’s chosen the name because she’s breast-stroking her way straight to the top now ~ out popped her delicate little pink hand, gold charm bracelet tinkling like bells, her blue eyes looking over the top of her yellow sunglasses as she hands it over. I’ve got it! My heart is racing.
And the winner for our special Valentine’s Day Prize Package is!!!!!! . . . . . deep breath. Are you ready? I really hope it’s you, I SO hope it’s you. But be forewarned, there are other gifts coming sooner than you think, so steel yourself in case isn’t you. Ready? (I really don’t like this part, in case you can’t tell) One person happy, vs ALL PEOPLE HAPPY? (Ohhhh, to be Oprah.) But here we go . . .
Oh! (reading) This is nice! It’s a mother-daughter team, our winner is the very L U C K Y Linda Wiernusz and her 13-year-old daughter ♥♥Sophia! I sure hope that’s YOU! Please look for my email in your box, Linda, write me back and let me know where to send your goodies. Congratulations! I know I speak for all of us when I say we hope you and Sophia have a wonderful tea party! Everyone is happy for you . . .
See what I mean? Paul too . . . He’s thrilled for you!
And now, for everyone else, perhaps, at this point, you are thinking . . .
Because I understand, and you know I’m right with you,
. . . so, here’s some magic for you (don’t run away, because there’s more), ease the pain dearest ones by clicking HERE, and print out a brand new bookmark (use card stock if you can) with those “magic” words on it (you’ll remember the sentiment from your new calendar) . . . just for you ♥ ~ something to give away to the Valentine’s in your life. Everyone’s a winner in Smallville.
More cheering-up necessary? No problem, I’ve been waiting for this all week . . . Let’s take our mind off our no-teapot sorrows and go look at wildflowers in England! Forget real life, snow and traffic, let’s look at fields of blooming color . . . with nature’s MUSICA . . .
I know this does not look real, but magic never does, that’s how you know it’s magic. These are bluebells, they come to England every spring, see the little meandering path that goes through them? We are there, walking along and smelling the flowers. Rachel wrote and told me the bluebells are coming up now! They run rampant, I mean rampant, all over the English Countryside. This really exists, not just in this one place, but everywhere. Isn’t that shocking? I thought so too.
There is no fresher air than being in the deep woods with a mile of bluebells around you and birds going wild all around you.
These are the bluebells at Rachel’s mum’s house, grab a handful for your kitchen counter.
I had to paint one ~ I did this when we were in England on a page of one of my old English garden books, now stuck in my diary. I love that this writer calls bluebells “clever” for learning how to grow in deep shade where other flowers fail . . . thereby owning the woodlands themselves. “A carpet as blue as the sky!”
Here are some of the “thousands” of green things vying for the sunshine. People here are so lucky , they run outside and bring in the MOST amazing vases of flowers. Free, God’s gift.
Here we are driving through the Yorkshire Dales. Even now, alone in my studio, when I look at this, little screams emit (not from remembrance of Joe’s driving, but from how much I adored the Yorkshire Dales).
It wasn’t really Joe, it was road width and curvature. But look at the countryside! Rock walls, hedges, wild flowers and stone cottages . . . this is the Lake District, the place that so inspired Beatrix Potter. Gee, I wonder why. Deep breath, Ommmmmm.
Here we are, up close with the cow parsley that lines all the country roads with frothy white flowers in May . . . it’s also called wild chervil and wild carrot, we call it Queen Anne’s lace. Of course, being magical, the story of cow parsley is filled with lore, including superstitions about the safety of your relatives if you bring it into the house. Children made whistles and pea shooters from the hollow stems; whole weddings have been concocted from it.
“Of what are you afraid, my child?” inquired the kindly teacher. “Oh sir! The flowers, they are wild, replied the timid creature.” ♥ Peter Newell
This wildflower has the best name, it’s called a fairy foxglove ~ we saw it at the ruins of King Richard III’s castle in Middleham, which was begun in 1190 (still there, filled with the story of time, and waiting for YOU), a massive very impressive ruin with no roof, but with most walls and stone stairways intact (it’s in the middle of the Dales, a wonderful place to poke around ~ look at the picture on the cover of A FINE ROMANCE ~ We had just taken the right turn to get to Middleham).
Here’s the very next photo I took after the one I used for the book. It shows why the roads are so narrow: they were made for horses! Rock walls, stone houses, and deep hedgerows come right to the edge. You’d have to dismantle the entire country to widen them. “Slow” is right; this is a two-way street, and our side is the left side. Me? I’m really close to those walls, could reach out the window and touch them. My squeeking mantra to Joe on that trip (who was incongruously sitting behind the steering wheel on my right side) was “eeep, get over.”
I digress, back to wildflower magic . . . in this photo I’ve climbed to the top of the castle, the fairy foxgloves grow all over it, right out of the stone walls!
Proof positive, the impossible happens all the time!
This isn’t a field of wildflowers, but I had to show you the view of the countryside from the top of the castle. How is this for “real?” Works for me!
This too, this field of buttercups is at Rachel’s parents house.
That’s me, with Rachel’s nephew Will, laughing ourselves silly, enjoying the face and gleeful road-runner qualities of the happiest dog in world.
Had to bring them home some of Rachel’s Buttercups to dry them for “our book.”
This goes on and on . . . I’m not sure what town we’re in here . .
but this is the Peak District, the view from the porch of the cottage we rented in Wirksworth.
And this is the most magical of them all. OK, that’s probably wrong. Because how do you choose just one. But this is Stourhead, 2,650 acres of stunning everything, long walks in beautiful woodlands (covered in bluebells in the spring), lakes, ponds, lambs, bridges, follies, a twelfth century church, a pub, a castle . . . and this is the grass bridge. We stayed in a stone house on the grounds, walked miles every day, fell in love with it, and had a wonderful picnic here on the lawn on the left.
This is my diary from the day of the picnic in 2004, that’s Rachel and me in a photo Joe took . . . this is the diary I kept on our first visit that inspired A FINE ROMANCE ~ so I will never forget that in short there’s simply not, a more congenial spot, for happily-ever-aftering, than here in Camelot.
These are wild orchids. Wild. Orchids. And waaaaay over there, peeking around the tree, is one of the many magical “follies” at Stourhead called the Temple of Apollo.
You can see it a little better in this photo . . .
and even better here . . . you can walk up to it and sit on the porch and look at the view if you like ~ if you’re lucky it will be pouring rain . . .
just like it was in my favorite scene in my favorite production of Pride and Prejudice. Which I just watched the other day, here in Smallville, with my nap blanket. Which anyone can do.♥ Aren’t the actors wonderful? Heart palpations galore.
And that’s all for today, Girlfriends. Hope you enjoyed our little “mini break” and feel refreshed for all that will go on in your own little Smallville today. You can tell I’m in a good mood! Those flowers cheered me right up! Off to paint more for our next year’s calendar (btw, some are asking, I believe there are a few wall-calendars left at Amazon!) Next time, maybe we’ll take a stroll into my small town so you can see the winter streets of the Haven. Would you like that? Plus, Downton, we have so much to talk about! Don’t forget to go back and get your bookmark! The days are longer now, have you noticed? XOXO Have a wonderful day!♥