For The Most Luscious Month - A List and A Giveaway - Extended!

Friday, May 13, 2011
Due to blogger's unfortunate crash yesterday, this post lost quite a few comments. So I am extending the giveaway till Sunday night, the 15th, at midnight. If your comment disappeared, as many did, do re-enter here!

A List For The Most Luscious Month

“The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes the dew from the hawthorn tree
Will ever after handsome be.”
Mother Goose

The cold winds have blown away to other corners of the earth, and though he is searching, summer’s heat has not yet found us. The maple trees, once austere and so dreadfully bare, are now wearing fancy frocks of baby green, and the roses are simply a miracle. It is May, that most luscious month of the twelve.
A most fortunate girl, as you can see from that photo above, I spent the first week of May writing and dreaming the hours away in the Low Country, that mysterious part of South Carolina where the waters hold hands with the land.
I took long rides and filled the basket on my bike with oyster shells - God’s own jewelry - to line a new flower bed and remind me of the marshes when I’m far, far away.
I followed a sandy trail through a maritime forest where baby frogs dashed across my path like tiny commuters late for work on a Monday morning.
I slept with white gardenias beside my bed and ate fresh raspberries for lunch.
And I also came up with a few favourite things just for this most delicious of months.
I hope you enjoy this Maytime list!


1. The Wedding
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a wedding, royal or otherwise. Even though being away in Los Angeles on the big day meant I had to rise at two am to witness the festivities in real time, you can bet your boots I did precisely that.
I loved the trees in the Abbey, loved the Sarah Burton dress!
Loved the little frowning flower girl.
Loved the Queen in lemon yellow.
Loved the music.
And especially loved the adoring looks shared by the bride and groom.
Ah, true love.
May they have many, many years of happiness together.
The London Times captured my absolute favourite photo of the day, above.


2. Embroidered Book Covers
With the increasing, and sometimes worrying, popularity of ebooks, I am thrilled to see so many old classics being reintroduced these days, brand new editions with creative and imaginative covers to entice a new reader and delight an old one. In February, I picked up several of these redressed classics at Hatchard’s, that peerless old bookshop on Picadilly in London. I suppose I have prattled on here enough about the incomparable experience of holding a fat, gorgeous book in one’s hands - catching a whiff of that deliciously booky scent as you turn crisp pages on a porch by the sea, or maybe under the covers at midnight. Despite the undeniable convenience of the computerized copy, (an on a plane, they really are convenient) to me, there’s still nothing quite like a real book. And all these new editions, from White’s Books, The Folio Society or Penquin Classics, are a joy to behold.
Just take a look at these charming new covers embroidered by Jillian Tamaki.
Don’t they make you want to add to your library??
See more HERE.


3. Treehouses
When we first saw our cottage years ago, the back garden was a well manicured green. There were fairly large trees, but nothing like the forest we have around us now. Those trees grew! Poplars and maples, hemlocks and oaks - they stand all round our cottage now like protective sentinels, and we adore them. So what if a carpet of tidy grass is out of the question now. We much prefer dwelling beneath these magical creatures of green. The other day, as I was sitting in their shadows with my morning coffee and newspaper, I began to look up into their leafy arms and think..... wouldn’t it be the most wonderful treat to have my builder come right over and put a treehouse up there?
My mind was positively racing with ideas!!
What about the one pictured above?
I wonder what The Songwriter will think?
You can find it and more, HERE.
It must be an inspired idea, because I came across this splendid treehouse last week during a forest bike ride in South Carolina.
That's me at the tippy top.
I felt right at home up there.


4. Upstairs Downstairs
Okay, yes I know I’m a sucker for British television. I love Jean and Lionel in As Time Goes By - love their pink entry hall, the vase in the sitting room always filled with white lilies, and Lionel’s affinity for custard tarts. I still laugh at Fawlty Towers (the rat episode remains my favourite) and I’m wild for Doc Martin. Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Morse and Poirot. I love them all. So it was no surprise that I became smitten with the new Upstairs, Downstairs from the very first frame. But it was the divine Eileen Atkins as the deliciously eccentric Maud who really won my heart. As the mother of Lord Holland, she arrives from India with both her purple-turbaned secretary and her rather irascible pet monkey and immediately commandeers the study on the main floor for her own room. (The set decoration of this particular room is my idea of complete and utter heaven!) Miss Atkins is a supreme delight every single time she’s on screen.
I mean one has to love a character who says of her pet monkey,
”Every morning, as soon as he sees me open my eyes, he applauds me.
I can’t tell you how that boosts one’s confidence.”

If you missed Upstairs, Downstairs on television, you can pick up a copy HERE.


5. The Absolute Perfect Sun Hat
Sun hats, like sunscreen, are a necessary accoutrement for someone of my particular complexion. I can get sunburned walking to the mailbox. A few weeks ago I received a most intriguing letter from Andrea of The French Basketeer requesting my mailing address, and the day before I was to leave for my recent trip to California, a large, mysterious box arrived on my front porch. Edward and Apple, who are always the first in the household to greet the UPS man, sat patiently by my side as I opened it. I pulled back the wrapping and there, resting inside, was the most gorgeous sun hat I’d ever seen. Pure fantasy! That’s it in the photo above. I wore it during my stay in the South Carolina marshlands last week and I can empirically state, it is completely perfect! Andrea also sent me one of her marvelous market baskets and, as an extra treat, a couple of fabulous linen dish towels embroidered TS, for The Songwriter (!) which, I am thrilled to report, he is putting to good use! Of course Edward and Apple thought the best part of the entire treasure was the bag of, apparently delicious, dog treats! Andrea’s kindness and generosity were so appreciated here at The House of Edward and I shall be wearing this fabulous hat every single time I leave the house this summer!
Do pay a visit to The French Basketeer, HERE!
And visit the blog, HERE.


6. A Tiny Cottage of Stone
For the past several months our city has been installing sidewalks on our little street. They were especially considerate of our large stone mailbox and several old trees that we didn’t want disturbed, and they even created a new flower bed for me by taking the sidewalk around the mailbox. As I always love a new place to create, this flower bed has been so much fun to plan. I’d seen one of these charming stone houses at a garden show and knew it would be just the thing for this new bed. I’ve planted a miniature forest around it and added some little sheep for springtime. I plan to add a stream of blue stones and The Songwriter is working on a tiny bridge. I'll place polar bears here in January, leprechans in March, black cats at Halloween, and maybe even a wee Santa and his reindeer when December rolls around. Should be a treat for the walkers to enjoy, don’t you think?
You can order your own magical miniature cottage HERE.
There are many wonderful styles.
Mine is the Scottish Rose which, given my love of Scotland, I simply could not resist!


7. She Walks in Beauty
It is there in that stare. Uncompromising, enigmatic, it sears the camera lens with a rare authenticity. Even in her earliest photographs, it is clear that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis owned an inner life of great depth. No doubt, it was that inner life that enabled her to keep hold of her soul during her most amazing time here on earth, a time filled both with remarkable joy and shattering loss. It is no surprise to learn she was a great lover of poetry. Poetry speaks the often inarticulate language of the human soul. On the universal journey that we all must travel, poetry provides us with a shiny key to help unlock our innermost selves. We commit favourite lines to memory as a secret gift to hold tight in our hearts. They become part of our narrative, rising to the surface when we need them most, giving us comfort, enhancing our joy, reminding us of beauty. They help us understand.

So great was Jacqueline’s love of poetry, she requested poems from her two children at all the important holidays. According to her daughter, Caroline, the children were to select poems that they liked and copy them down as presents to her. Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day. Could there possibly be a better gift? Imagine the collection she had once those two children were grown. Now Caroline has returned the favour to us all, by compiling a perfectly lovely bouquet of poems from some of the world’s greatest poets in She Walks In Beauty, A Woman’s Journey Through Poems. It is a thoroughly beautiful book, filled to overflowing with exquisite words about women... their loves, their work - beauty and friendship, silence and death, motherhood, aging and marriage. I have had it by my bed now for almost a month, and cannot seem to stop myself from saying... “just one more before I turn out the light”.

I highly recommend this book to to all of you, so much so that I’m giving away a copy!
You know the drill, just leave a comment on this post and you are entered.
Followers of the blog are always entered twice, so become one if you’re not already! We’ll do the drawing at midnight on lucky Friday the Thirteenth, so be sure to get your name in the hat before then.

I’ll close this Maytime list with one of my favourite poems ever, which, I am happy to say, just happens to be included in this gorgeous collection.

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and be,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -
through the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations -
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do -
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Congratulations to Linda!
She's the winner of the book!