Funny how books transcend time, isn’t it? I’m remembering a bit of one from childhood that made me feel – mm, I want to do that!
That, was to surprise my pen pal with clever little pen and ink sketches in my letters — just the way a character did in the book. The actual story details elude me like mist over mountaintops, but I can see myself grinning as I read how someone was writing the main character the most intriguing letters from their travels… illustrating his adventures with tiny black and white drawings instead of enclosing photos. (I’m thinking it was the girl’s away on business dad, or maybe an uncle…) Perhaps he’d start off with a pretty little rendering of a famous building he’d just visited and wanted to make the reader envisage herself there with him. Another time, he’d cartoon a funny little Norman Rockwell spoof of himself cavorting in some merry mishap across the lined page.
How fun! I thought To try and capture tiny moments like little personal stories and send them off to a friend. I tried, and tried again…but to my eyes… flopped. And as I think of it now, maybe that was just because my personal life lacked much adventure (or as Anne Shirley might say, scope!) to try and illustrate. I mean, life wasn’t much more than going to school and doing homework… and I hadn’t yet experienced the way to create beauty and character from the everyday, to see how it might take a special form in life’s light and shadows…
I think I felt it.
Like the way I soaked in the lovely sun-caught rainbows streaming through chapel windows and lighting here, there and over the rich and warm mahogany-color pews, dancing on my folded hands, across my lap… Or the friendly, beckoning feel of shelves lining the walls of the homespun library set right in among the houses of our neighborhood, rather than grand and alone off some highway.
I just couldn’t express it…
Life over the years has morphed somehow into BIG. Dare I say…MEGA. There is place for that, and I do enjoy the benefits of some of it. But something in me still craves the charming, the cosy (spelled the English way! ). A huge part of what brought me to the town where I’ve enjoyed living for so many years was the quaint New England style village architecture. Sprinkled in with homes that resemble fairy tale cottages. Floor to ceiling windows with mullions. And autumns glowing golden right outside.
I fell in love with a warm Victorian bakery just around the corner from a genuine weathered wooden bridge — a charmer of a tea room run by some nuns, with its richly-colored and carved woodwork and aroma of homemade cinnamon rolls. Set in a tiny Americana country village only fifteen minutes away. Long-changed hands since, and no longer holding the same charm… I go back to it but in heart. And in the shared memories with those who first brought me there…
One such place was a local bookshop set above the street, up on a corner… made to resemble something from one of my favorite British novels. I close my eyes and step through the doors now, and once again fall for the charming nooks and crannies… The way you had to step down into a sort of living room section devoted to children’s books, the small round tables carved for tiny legs, the floor-lined shelves perfect for little hands to discover jeweled illustrations in picture books. And how you could step up and around a corner into another nook for fiction and non fiction, mystery and cookbook… And the feel of bygone mixed with gilded new, set amongst wooden shelves and yes… those mullioned windows! I could be wrong, but I think the one and only front door had one of those bells that ring as you entered… and the air held redolent scent of the fresh page in browsing fingers…
I grieved when they closed in favor of setting up a larger complex… I think to hold up in a bigger, larger, competing world. Grieved at the loss of charm I anticipated. Something was lost… yet… something was gained. Because as they built this new bookshop, it somehow became more while keeping cosy charm in design…
An added in café with outside umbrella street ambience.
A music section with listening stations and headphones.
A concert and author-reading nook.
Comfy chairs around a small fireplace – hidden in a sweet corner respite, like a secret door behind bookshelves. One you have to step up into and around to discover… in an oh so NOT open floor plan chain store concept (yay!). Instead…with that explore me nook and cranny way of old.
But… perhaps, the frontispiece of the shop has become the café bakery, inviting you to stop for a bite of savory sandwich lunch, a cup of soup, a scone or sweet or tea. To sit by the fireplace, visit with friends, peruse your laptop, browse the work of local artists and photographers lining their walls. A place that offers these artists a chance to display and sell their work with no consignment fees or any cost besides hanging them yourself… pretty unheard of these days. As an artist, of course I love this… it speaks to me of family business and homespun days. People just enjoying the opportunity to showcase another. And as I signed up last summer to put some of my own pen and ink drawings there in months that are finally coming up, I began to think about capturing some of their charm in illustration as part of my display.
Like the book character illustrating those letters of long ago.
I took some quick photos inside and out last summer… Wasn’t sure about the inside view as I looked at those last week and chose which one to portray in pen and ink. Would it really convey the feel? The classic book, frontispiece illustration style I love?
Maybe I’ll hang it there, above the fireplace, I’m thinking, as I look at the finished drawing now. A piece that tells some of their story…and maybe a bit of the visitor’s own.
And right now… I’m considering…Blogging is like modern day letters. Might I finally write one of those letters I longed to, so many years ago? Include this sketch illustration…send it off to you? Offer you a savoring, cosy, cup of tea feel of a chair by the hearth with a good book this weekend?
Somehow I think, in this world of bigger and better, He enjoys the feel of nook and cranny charm too… Of treasuring the old, when conceiving the new. Of quiet moments and sitting together with Him. Listening and sharing hearts. Of making room for gifts from others, just because. And holding His word like the scent of home, warming between our hands.
© Pam Depoyan
When you think of cosy, what place or time comes back to your mind?
Sharing with: Sunday Stillness with Janis Cox
Drawings of cafe fireside and umbrellas outside: © mine, please do not copy these without permission. Thank you! See my pen & ink HOME PORTRAITS link.