February is proving to be the coldest month of winter in Northwest Ontario. We've got a few feet of snow now, and the wind is blowing more than usual. I'm caught in between two books: Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, a strange psychological thriller set on a small island in northern Quebec, and Growing Food in a Short Season: Sustainable, Organic Cold-Climate Gardening. I'm thankful more than ever for our cozy home.
We moved into our house at the beginning of fall with an air mattress, bedding and some sentimental knick knacks and wall hangings. Slowly but surely we are making the place our own, which isn't always easy when you live in a town with no furniture or decor stores to speak of. Well, unless you're in the market for a bitchin' wolf-howling-at-the-moon blanket.
The place is a work in progress, but after many hours of painting, rearranging, and some serious DIY projects, it's beginning to take shape. The upstairs is the main living area with our bedroom, open concept kitchen/dining/living space, and yoga room. The downstairs, with its two spare rooms and TV area, is next in line for some updating.
I love that despite having given away or sold over half of our possessions before the move, we still have the objects that count; the ones that remind us of good times and past adventures. The Skyline to the Sea Trail sign was something that Charlie and I found on our second date on a hike in the Santa Cruz mountains. A few years later, when we were living together and had adopted Daisy, the three of us completed that trail on a backpacking trip. All 35 miles of it. I think that might have been one of Daisy's happiest moments; herding us all along the trail, swimming in the streams, and getting her fill of beef jerky snacks.
The butterflies are ones that I collected as a kid along the road at my grandma's home in Elkton, Missouri. Death by windshield. I would walk with my head to the ground, gingerly picking them up before placing them in plastic wrap to add to my collection. Every time I look at them I think back to those summer days. The map of Lake Tahoe and the black and white photo I snapped of Charlie on a hike there with an old film camera also evoke happy memories. I can pick out right where the cabin is on Marla Bay. If I close my eyes I can see the view from the deck perfectly.
Our record collection continues to grow, and I've been on the lookout for a rustic wooden crate to store them in. For Christmas I got Charlie some gems in Kansas City. Neil Young. Boz Scaggs. The Eagles. Super Tramp. Tommy Boy soundtrack. This nook also houses two of my favorite antiques: a vintage typewriter my mom gave me and an old container from the Cudahy Meat Packing Company, the business my great-great-grandfather started. Our book collection is a mixture of old classics from my days as an English major, guide books, adventure novels, and post-apocalyptic tales.
Each of the glass bottles sitting on the window in the kitchen have their own stories, too. The Crown Royal and Patron bottles are from crazy nights celebrating friends' birthdays. The tall skinny one is from a goat farm in Pescadero that we visited when my parents came to California for my college graduation. We spent the day on the foggy coast watching goats frolic in the fields and sampling their cheese garnished with edible flowers. The large jug was another spoil from a hike with Charlie. We found it hidden on a hill by an old crumbling house.
I love being surrounded by these things. Charlie has learned to not interfere with my collecting. He's not one to care much about "stuff," which I love about him, but even he has gotten into the decorating process.
This weekend is a long one. We're off to see the dog sled races. For us, that's a romantic way to spend Valentine's Day. Happy Friday, friends!