Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A true romantic

I am a romantic.

 As a child I loved nothing more than running through the fields near my home, hair streaming in the breeze, a fistful of wildflowers in hand imagining myself a fair and gentle princess. On any given day I could be seen riding my strawberry roan mare bareback through the thousands of acres near our country home. The scent of dry grass and sight of giant ancient oaks taking me in my mind to a space and time where I was a  maiden warrior riding the vast expanse of my kingdom.

Although life, marriage, five children, the years and my surroundings have changed me outwardly, that romantic imaginative spirit lives on.

I love all things Jane Austin. I love the drama, the strong female characters. I love the settings of charming villages and dark mysterious estates. I fancy myself to be Jane at times- living and breathing through the words she penned so eloquently years ago.

Last summer I had the good fortune to visit England while my daughter and son-in-law lived there to complete their Masters degrees at Cambridge University. I spent many days "banging" around the charming historic city of Cambridge. 

King's College Chapel at Cambridge University
Punting on the Cam a peaceful and historical event....drifting through time.

My grandson and I riding along while Daddy punts.
Punting on the river, running through 1000 year old gardens, standing in the shadow of Kings College and attending evensong at Pembroke.

Pembroke College chapel where we attended evensong.
Each morning as the quaint British robin sang his lilting melody and each evening as the chapel bells rang out, my romantic soul swelled.

The crowning event of my sojourn to the Queens country took place during one particular day. My daughter and son-in-law arranged for a days' journey to Jane's home. We traveled the winding picturesque country roads through Nottingham forest...
The ancient oak. Thought to be the home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The diameter of this tree is about 16 feet across! the beautiful town of Chatham. 

An amazing thatched roof cottage in Chatham. This home stands just down the road from Jane Austin's.
Thatched roofs, thick stuccoed walls and stone fence greeted us at every turn. When at last we arrived in Jane's town it was everything I had dreamed it would be.

The gardens surrounding the home she lived in with her mother and sister are a bit different from when she cared for them. However, a beautiful antique, pink rose, planted during the time Jane lived there, still clambers over the entrance to the home. As I walked under it's ancient canes the scent filled my mind and heart. I imagined Jane and Cassandra there to greet me.

Jane's beautiful clambering rose.
Me enjoying my dream destination.
Her pianoforte still fills one corner of the sitting room. My daughter, fingers light and flowing played as if invited by Jane herself, filling the room with the melodic sounds of her time.
The very desk at which Jane wrote and the ink well she dipped remain near the garden window. Her inspiration and thoughts must have flown much as mine do, imaging herself beautiful, strong and brave.

The very desk and chair at which Jane wrote.
Upon returning from England I decided my soul needed a place of respite in my own home. A once loved bedroom across the hall from our elegantly renovated bath sat empty and forlorn. It's previous inhabitant now married.

I decided this would be my place. A place to remember. A place to dream. A place to BE Jane, a fair princess or a maiden warrior or any other entity I desire.

I set about restyling the room. Fabrics purchased in Cambridge became pillows and a bedskirt.

Fabrics "harvested" in merry olde England. My favorite are from Cath Kidson. Check out their online store.
Poetry penned in elegant script  by my great-grandfather rests on the antique wire bed stand.

Add caption
Dolls once played with by great great grandmothers....

...share space in an antique hutch with treasured teacups collected by a cherished grandmother. 
Some of my cherished tea cup collection.
The "Queen's" patterned china collected in my travels rest within as well.

Small lithographs of pastoral scenes, images of what I imagine Jane's life to have been like, adorn one wall. My treasured watercolor of Jane's Chatham home hangs nearby.

A beautiful hand crafted porcelain bride rests atop an antique dresser(a wedding gift to my mother).

Every inch of this room fills my heart and soul feeding the romantic that dwells within. When I am sad, thoughtful, filled with a longing for fantasy or a life like Jane's, I step into "my" space, softly close the door, lie down on the matelassé' coverlet and dream. Sometimes awake and sometimes with my eyes closed.

It is my firm belief that we should each have a magic place. A place we can step into and romanticize. I like to think Jane would agree.

No comments:

Post a Comment