Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Crushes: Dreaming of Roses in the Dead of Winter

As I type, the snow is falling again.  No, not just snow, and not just falling.  It's sleet, and it's slicing the night air, encasing the trees, and leaving the snowbanks, roads, and sidewalks coated with a slick skim of ice.  We've had one record-breaking snowstorm (32") in Portland this winter, followed by several smaller ones.  Mr. Magpie and I have become intimately acquainted with the fancy ergonomically designed shovels we bought for the new house, which, for much of January and February, has looked like some version of these photos I shot earlier in the week:

Yes, it's sweet, and don't get me wrong, we love our Little House in the Snow.  I love pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder as I put another log on the fire or tunnel my way out the back door, and Mr. Magpie loves chopping wood and practicing new ways to tie his wool muffler, but I'm not kidding when I say we are ready for the Big Shift.  If you live in a place with real Winters with a capital W, you know the shift I mean: that palpable change, that first day when you walk outside and realize that the sun has risen just high enough in the sky and lingered just long enough at the end of day to begin to warm the ground.  There might still be snow, but beneath it is the soil, and you know this for one reason: suddenly, you can smell it.  

And there's the air, too.  Even though it's still cold as hell, there's a slight softening.  The wind doesn't whip at your cheeks, the cold doesn't sink into your bones.  Maybe you even leave your parka unzipped as you shovel the slushsnowice from the driveway.

Then early one morning, you spot a Goldfinch on the bird feeder, and he has shed his drab winter coat in favor of brilliant spring gold.  And a week or two later, you catch sight of that first scarlet flash of a redwing blackbird.  Snow or no snow, Spring has come.  The first flowers can't be far behind (let's hope a few of the crocus bulbs I planted in the grass escaped the greedy clutches of my friends the squirrels).

Two days ago, I was in the yard scolding chatting with the squirrels when I sensed the first wee hint that spring may be on its way.  As I watched the sun fall behind the white pines, I actually felt the warmth of its rays.  This was all I needed.  Back inside I went to pore over my garden catalogs.  I'm obsessed right now with roses, everything from my favorite rugosas, to classic climbers and David Austin English roses.  

David Austin Carding Mill
In my last garden I grew several kinds of roses, including a deep pink wild one that seemed to volunteer itself in gardens all over the neighborhood.  Here at the new house, I have certain roses in mind, like "Carding Mill," pictured above, but I'd love to hear from you about some of your favorites, too

And just because I need a little Summer beauty during Winter's home stretch,I thought I'd share a few photos of roses I've taken over the past three years.  Those of you in colder climes can think of them as armfuls of summer's beauty and scent from me to you.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gigi Thibodeau
Peaks Island Maine, Gigi Thibodeau
London, Gigi Thibodeau

At Borough Market, London, Gigi Thibodeau

St Paul's Cathedral, London, Gigi Thibodeau

Peaks Island, Maine, Gigi Thibodeau

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February Crushes: Punch Brothers

I'll be seeing this amazing band live for the second time tomorrow night with Mr. Magpie and two dear friends here in Portland.  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I have a crush on the whole band.  Lead singer and mandolinist extraordinaire Chris Thile, whom you may also know from Nickel Creek, won a MacArthur genius award this past year, and his collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer led to The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a fantastic CD that just won the Grammy for Best Folk Album.  

I have to admit that I was smitten from the moment I first saw Punch Brothers open for Josh Ritter a few years ago down in Boston, and I think you'll love them, too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February Crushes: Love Poems

Well, of course.  But I always love love poems, so this is an easy one for me.  Thought I'd share a favorite with you to share as you will.  

Sending big love and thanks to you this Valentine's Day, my sweets!


My mind's a map. A mad sea-captain drew it
Under a flowing moon until he knew it;
Winds with brass trumpets, puffy-cheeked as jugs,
And states bright-patterned like Arabian rugs.
"Here there be tygers."Here we buried Jim."
Here is the strait where eyeless fishes swim
About their buried idol, drowned so cold
He weeps away his eyes in salt and gold.
A country like the dark side of the moon,
A cider-apple country, harsh and boon,
A country savage as a chestnut-rind,
A land of hungry sorcerers.
Your mind?

Your mind is water through an April night,
A cherry-branch, plume-feathery with its white,
A lavender as fragrant as your words,
A room where Peace and Honor talk like birds,
Sewing bright coins upon the tragic cloth
Of heavy Fate, and Mockery, like a moth,
Flutters and beats about those lovely things.
You are the soul, enchanted with its wings,
The single voice that raises up the dead
To shake the pride of angels.
I have said.

~Stephen Vincent Benet

Monday, February 11, 2013

February Crushes: Chocolate-Raspberry Love Letters

Okay, it may be too late to send these for Valentine's Day, but who cares?  You could send them just because, right?

They are raspberry-dark chocolate bars from Chicago's Sea and Cane Sweets, and they come in special airmail envelopes addressed to your sweetheart.  Love.  And if you visit their website, you'll find much more to love, too, like dark chocolate sea salt caramels.  Sigh.

Friday, February 8, 2013

February Crushes: Old Town Work Wear

Photo by Matt Hind

Okay, here's crush number 2: the men's workwear chic clothing from British company Old Town. To see a beautifully inspiring photo shoot at London's Red Lion Pub (a classic pub in every sense, which also happens to be the first pub I ever visited in London, many years ago), take a peek at Piccadilly Pleasures.  I think Mr. Magpie has as big a crush on this clothing as I do!

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    February: A Month of Crushes

    I brought this lovely little orchid home from Trader Joe's, placed it on my wooden living room floor in a ray of sunlight, and snapped a shot of it with my cell phone.  Then a quick process through Instagram, and this was the result.  They are such breathtaking flowers, and very inexpensive these days.  Plus, they bloom for ages and ages.  What's not to adore?

    Orchids--just one of my current loves.  

    Something shifts inside me in February.  I start developing crushes--not just on people, but on foods and places and other inspiring gems.  Is it that Valentine's Day is on its way?  I've never cared much about that holiday, but I do love good dark chocolate . . . and flowers . . . and romantic gestures.  Maybe it's the combination of lengthening days, the promise of spring, even as temperatures here in Maine linger in the teens, and we all turn up our collars, hunch into the wind, and brace ourselves for several more weeks of chill and snow and sleet . . . and then slush . . . and mud.  Sigh.  Yes, I think I fall in love in February simply because I need to.  These little obsessions will carry me through to spring.  And because I adore you, too, I thought I'd share a few crushes throughout the month.  Keep checking back in the days to come for little flashes of February love.  xo Gigi