Temperatures in Northern California are finally slipping into flannel territory in the evening while I continue to ignore relentless sunshine during the day. I concentrate instead on arranging my surroundings to prepare for this favorite time of year.
Though I'm on the opposite side of the country, in the fall my soul communes with New England, with its four seasons and the independent spirit of the people I meet there. Friends who live in New England year-round like to remind me of the fifth season, the one that comes right after the snow melts and lasts for weeks – mud season. I ignore this, pick up my current copy of Yankee Magazine or watch episodes of "Weekends With Yankee" on PBS where autumn is embraced and everything feels comforting, well-loved, well-used and appreciated.
The only decorating style in evidence around here is that I seem to gravitate mostly to objects that look like they have a story to tell. Some of my favorite things share certain qualities. Many are old and weathered. If it has faded colors, if the paint is peeling, if some part of it is rusty, if it looks like it could give you splinters, chances are it's coming home with me.
Steve Bradford, a dear friend and Maine artist, is responsible for some of my favorite art. He answers a question about the wood in this recent birthday gift received from him.
"I meant to tell you about the wood the candle sconce was made of. We're close enough to the coast so there are fishermen and lobstermen living nearby (there's a house on the next block with the yard stacked high with lobster traps). When a dory (smaller rowboat kept on a larger fishing boat) wears out, some of them get brought back inland and abandoned in the woods or a field. There was one in Durham where I've always taken the dogs to run. It was mostly red, with some blue and white trim. As it disintegrated I used to bring pieces of it home on a regular basis. The boat is gone now but I still see random pieces of red, white or blue wood near where it was. So the sconce was made out of wood from an authentic Maine saltwater fishing dory."
There's more of this beautifully aging wood in this piece from Steve. "The Writer" is in a private collection but you can see it at his website under "Chairs." Website is linked to Steve's name above.
Now I'm on the lookout for a big vintage chair with a matching ottoman, black or dark brown or maybe faded red leather, comfortably worn but with more years left in it for reading and looking through windows, watching leaves drift.