I am happiest when close to nature. I guess that’s one of the things I love about New England. It’s hard to get very far away from the natural beauty that abounds here. I try to experience each season to it’s fullest, indoors and outdoors.
In the summer, it’s almost a no-brainer. I spend as much time as possible outside, in the garden and in the yard. Hiking, canoeing, day trips… I can’t get enough. To extend the summer season, I freeze and preserve produce for off- season enjoyment and dry herbs to cook with and make gifts from. Bowls of potpourri made from dried herbs and flowers make the garden last longer too. And mugs of herb teas in the cool months bring a little touch of summer into an otherwise chilly day. I dry autumn leaves and summer flowers to remind me of other seasons in the dead of winter. I try to surround myself with natural elements as they inspire me like nothing else.
When I visit the beach, I collect shells, smooth stones and sea glass to place in canning jars on windowsills or bowls in areas where I spend time inside. It makes a soothing reminder of time spent at the ocean. In autumn, I collect leaves and dry them flat under glass on my desktop. They provide a spot of color for months to come and trigger good memories of walks taken in fleeting scenic surroundings.
On our Thanksgiving table, I include dried leaves, acorns and pine cones, mixed with fruits and vegetables as a centerpiece. It’s a reminder that we are not that far from the days when foraging was as important, or even more so, than farming. It helps to keep it all in perspective. In Yuletide, I gather pine cones and berries to fill out wreaths, fill wooden bowls and create natural centerpieces.
In textiles, I tend to lean toward natural prints and fabrics. I love the Art Nouveau style, which integrates images from nature into tapestry like patterns. A Tree of Life rug occupies most of the living room floor. Whenever possible, we have left the woodwork in our old house natural to highlight the natural grain and color of the wood. Most walls are antique white with borders of natural elements, flowers, fruit and leaves.
In the past couple of years, I have become more involved in jewelry making. I enjoy using natural shells and leaf-shaped items to create pieces emphasizing nature as the focus. Other natural shapes, like snowflakes, are interesting to work with too, combined with beads made from materials such as shell and stone.
I have stenciled borders in some rooms, emphasizing natural elements, vines, pine cones and berries. Houseplants fill window corners and act as natural humidifiers. Many of our dishes and serving vessels are made from wood or marble. Each one is unique in it’s own right. Old china plates often are graces with pastoral mural scenes or decorations bearing flowers, leaves and woodland motifs.
In scrapbooking and card making, I enjoy using handmade papers created from leaf and flower pieces and fibers. When carrying my camera, I keep an eye out for natural studies’ birds’ nests, spider webs, and sunlight through leaves…
In the study where I work and write, I like to surround myself with as many connections to the natural world as possible. Feathers, dried leaves and flowers, plants, driftwood, shells and other natural paraphernalia surround my work space and keep me connected to the things I think are important. Jars of stones and shells serve as bookends. The chair at my desk bears the face of the North Wind in the back panel. I have a set of cast iron dragonflies, found in a country store years ago, that act as paperweights.
I enjoy being surrounded and inspired by nature. Therein, I feel connected…