Hasten, autumn. Bring your mellow yellows and your lowlights, your red leaves and blushing apples fallen into piles on the side of the road. They're already falling, and the fields are tinted russet, and dry. It's okay. The yards, my yards, have defeated me: the flowers, the pots, the hanging baskets, the watering — as usual, things have frizzled into colorless, wilting beggars, laced with spiderwebs from chair to pot to post every morning. I can't keep up. I cry uncle. I'd like to put the hose away, drain it for good and sit on the deck in my nightgown, nursing a big cup of strong coffee while Amelia throws blueberries into the yard, listening to birds make plans in the golden-leaved morning light.
The house is just as bad. Outgrown clothes, piles of catalogs I'll never order from, sofa cushions blobbing in every direction, pillows on the floor, sand-covered shoes in a heap by the door, dusty succulents on my windowsills, toys piled into bookshelves, books stacked next to the bed, half-filled bottles of shampoo and mismatched conditioner, slivers of gooey soap in the dishes, balls of yarn tumbling off of tables, stacks of fabric waiting to be cut, mail that hasn't been sorted in weeks, everything pushed into the centers of tables and counters to keep it out of the reach of a little girl who carries her mini-chairs all over the house and (quietly, looking back) stands on them, and reaches, reaches. There are only so many places to put things one shouldn't touch, and the things of summer, the sunglasses and sunscreens and sandals and beach towels and beach chairs and beach balls and pails and shovels and cups and water bottles, have filled every nook. I'd be happy for a good thunderstorm, and a cleaning lady, and a trip to Goodwill.
Instead, we go 'side. To the waterside. Woodside. Riverside. Fieldside. At sunset, where, in the relief of honey light, with a big baby girl heavy in your arms, it's nothing but beautiful. Where it washes over you, and makes you cry. Because it's August 23. It's been an incredible summer. I don't want it to end.
***The green cottage is my mama's house.
At first I was thinking that these little dresses and the sweater I finished looked very springlike, palette-wise. But then we had a rare cloudy day, following by some l o v e l y sunny but cool days (oh sweet mercy, they are the rarest of beauties) and I realized that there's a quiet, silvery sort of beauty to the end of summer, when things are tufted and feathery and dried to a dusty powder that shimmers and floats. We've been outside so much these past few weeks, done so many things I can't even remember what, not the least of which has been spending every waking moment among the gardens and trees and leaves. This second wave of photos is the park where, a couple of years ago, the bagpiper came and honked us out on an afternoon much like the one we spent here last week. I have so many photos I've taken and haven't even posted. I've spent much more time outside than in. I've spent more time at rivers than I have at home. I've spent much more time rolling around on quilts with a big baby girl and our man, sand in my sandwich and sun in my eyes, than working. Is it any wonder, then, that the end of summer makes you teary, fluttering, a little melancholy. It's dark by 8:30, and someone had a wood fire burning in the neighborhood. The plums are hazed with dull plum blue. Our girl runs and falls and picks herself up and runs some more, dancing whenever she hears music playing (even a cell phone ringing), feeling at home now in the water and sand, carrying a green maple leaf like a flower. Soon, soon it will be autumn-leaf pink instead of green.
***The blue dress is my knock-off version of this one (I like the original better than mine; it's wider, and I like the flatter sleeve cap); the pink sweater is my finished Lottie; and the smocked dress is a little bishop dress I made based on this pattern, but I'm not that happy with it because I think it's too full, and there are so many pleats that you really can't see the smocking. I think I've done enough of them now that next time I'm just going to make up my own measurements. I'm very picky about this.
Oh, the fair, the fair. How we love it! Don't get me wrong — it has its share of knock-off sunglasses, hot tubs, monster trucks, greasy food, scary-looking ride operators (is there any other kind?), and it's usually hot-hot-hot. But where else can you see cows being hugged by girls? Dozens of bunnies lounging with their back legs stretched out? Roosters eyeing you as if they want to peck you in the face (I know they do)? Teenagers in barns playing cards? Sheep just generally looking hilarious at every moment? A pioneer village where you can learn to dip a candle? Pioneer dudes in calico smocks making horseshoes over a forge? Yards and yards and yards of calico sewn into big, giant lady-skirts? Zero entries in the Men's Chocolate Cake competition (wha???!!! With a trophy like that, and everything?)? Little baby goats you just want to kiss on the nose and take home and tuck into bed? Kids looking so proud you just want to hug every single one of them? Bright pink peppermint ice-cream cones so big they melt all over your hand before you can eat them? Themed table displays? Elephant ears tempting you every ten yards? Teeny-tiny gentlemanly horses and enormous, snorting fat pigs being devoured (apparently) by their offspring? A dairy princess with a smile that lights up the whole fairground? Young people and old people and country people and city people, all happy to be together in a place on a beautiful late-summer day? So many things for a little baby girl to do and see and exclaim over that she can hardly believe her eyes (until she just has to close them in exhaustion)? Nowhere, really, just nowhere at all except the Clackamas County Fair. I just think it's a magical place.
Here are our other trips to the fair. I really love it there.
And everything in between.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
August 10, 2014.
(The picture of Andy towering over the little people is just a weird optical illusion — the people are varying distances behind and around him, and I caught him mid-jump [and you can see Amelia starting to "jump"]. I did a double-take at this one myself!)
At the end of a beautiful road lies the ocean. We wind through the fields and the forest while she sleeps. Ryan Adams, cinnamon buns, sunlight flashing through the trees. The road twists through the hills, dipping and bobbing. In the back of the car, quilts and pails, sand and sandals, a striped tent and four bottles of sunscreen. This summer it's been the days in between the days at the water. Our girl grows bigger and braver and more beautiful in each moment, in each summer afternoon, the world opening before her and before me and him through her. It's all new. It's never been seen before, not by me, each moment a marvel to me, this second childhood that is the first childhood I only dreamed of as a child. How blessed we are, how monumentally blessed. She hands me her barrettes, her bunny, her blueberry, her sticks, her stones, her seashell, a coffee stirrer she picks up out of the sand, her eyes as bright and deep blue as the ocean. Thank you, my lovey. Thank you and thank you and thank you, my dear, sweet lovey. For each and every one of these precious and bright and incredibly beautiful little-big things.
Suddenly, a scramble: how to fit everything else you want summer to be into four weeks. It's both long and short — I pine for chilly evenings, and feel panicked that the nights are already shorter, the darkness filling the open windows earlier every evening. I would like it both ways, as usual. The calendar fills up in a mad rush, every week, every weekend taken with something scheduled. Concerts, fairs, visits, visitors, vacations, day-trips, reunions, work. The summer's-end scramble.
(We are, I have been meaning to mention, making a whole new batch of 2013's sold-out ornament kits, Night Before Christmas. No new ornaments this year, but we are bringing these back, and they'll be back until they sell out. We are also preparing kits for a duffel coat, sweater, jeans, boots, and scarf outift for all the little animals in the Little Animal Family. More details on this as we get closer to being finished with everything — but I'm expecting the ornament kit to be available mid-September, and the winter clothing kit (and pattern) to be available later in the fall, though if we finish it earlier we'll release them at the same time. All of the older ornament kits are still available in the shop right now, though there are only thirty Walk in the Woods kits left, so that one will probably go soon. I've noticed that the orders on these kits have had a noticeable increase in the past couple of weeks so I wanted to mention this in case you are putting together your CCP [Christmas Crafting Plan].)
I have so much yarn in my life right now it's kind of nuts. I must be dreaming. I finished the Artichaut — it's very jerry-rigged, but somehow turned into something that looks wearable, if a bit droopier than I wanted. I was surprised it came out at all. I immediately set about knitting it again (go fig), but not the seamless version, which I think was the root of my problems. I paired this mauvey version with Violette by Citronille, in Liberty Elysian yellow. I'd like to try this outfit on my darling but that will have to wait until the temperature drops eighty degrees, since it's still about a hundred and fifty out (isn't it? It must be). My Dogwood Lottie is going great. I really like that pattern. And I'm planning a new, lined winter hoodie, probably this one. And then there's this sweet little wooly hug. Maybe longer nights will be a good thing.
***Yes, adorable puppers is Bebe, a three-month-old (can't remember the breed?) Leonberger (thanks, Ann and others!) being puppysat by our friends. Cutest, fluffiest puppers ever!
Even I, the woman with the highest tolerance in the world for listening to herself complain, got sick of hearing myself complain. I (finally) decided that if I couldn't beat 'em, I'd join 'em. At the river. It was a perfect day. (And, I swear, it was also ten degrees cooler there.)
July 29, 2014
(For those who have asked, her "swimming costume," as I like to call it, is from J. Crew.)
In the dappled shade Amelia and I walk up and down the streets near our house. We're trying to stay in the shade; it's so hot, but we just have to get outside. She's in her stroller with her bare legs curled up, keeping them in the shade of the stroller hood. She has a gigantic, larger-than-lifesize photographic kitty-pillow that she clutches, faced-out towards passersby. Trippy Kitty's eyes are slightly wild. People look amused as we walk by with the giant, real-looking kitty. Mimi's hair is going in every possible direction. I'm drinking the biggest iced coconut chai you've ever seen. Four p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Bees buzzing the lavender. A guy trimming his spent roses. The baseball game on the radio in a yard. "Mommy?" "Yes, miss?" "Da?" Points at a tattered flag. "Flag!" "Mommy?" "Yes, ma'am." "Da?" Points at a swing in someone's yard. "Swing!" Why are fruit-filled trees so poignant? They almost make me want to cry.
July is dressed up and playing her tune. At the pool, there was no usual whining, no refusal to get further than one centimeter into the water, no running around the pool deck taking other peoples' shoes (while frantically signing "shoes"), no eating soggy popcorn from under the table where someone had a birthday party earlier that day. There was just the three of us, floating dreamily in the middle of the pool near the lane lines. Rare peace at the pool. She pushed her legs out behind her and kicked while Andy pulled her around. I floated on my back, pointing my toes just above the water. It was cold and clear. I tried not to get water in my eyes because it makes my contacts burn like hell. She doesn't mind splashing herself in the face (much), but she doesn't like being splashed by anyone else. What do you do when it's someone's dad dunking his kids and bouncing beach balls off their heads? The teenage lifeguard looked mildly uncomfortable. The kids, naturally, were delighted. All day long she tells them to stop standing on the baby-pool fountain. Now it was their big dad making the thing explode in an enormous plume when he slid his rump off the jet, a (naughty) kid again himself for the day. She didn't have the heart to scold and, in my mind, neither did I. Summer's so short. It's so hot. After an hour of playing with a cup or being carried by her dad through the water visiting the big-kid territories, Amelia came back to the zero-depth area and, by herself, trudged carefully toward the fountain, a frothy stack of water burbling out of the sparkling shallows. Gently, she ran her hands through its spray, soft and aerated, foamy white. She reached further in, held her hands deep in the core of the plume. We resisted the urge to follow her, to show her, to show her something . . . more. It's so hard not to, somehow. So hard to remember just to hang back and watch sometimes. She played there for a long time. I watched her serious face, and tried to memorize the moment. It was the best day we've had at the pool all summer, and when it was time to go I didn't want to go.
Back at home, we're trying to find a rhythm — working, sleeping, cooking, playing. It's been harder than usual lately and I don't know why. I'm often filled with frustration about the weather, wanting to do things outside that it's just been too hot to do (have a picnic on the sunny, scorching flats of Powell Butte, for instance; sit in the dried-up clover above the beach on Sauvie Island and look at the mountain at dusk). Our day ends early because it starts so (incredibly) early, so I often feel that we miss the cooler, quieter evenings. Well, sigh. I'm thinking we should get one of those craft-fair tents and take it everywhere we go. Maybe a portable mister, with a canister I could wear on my back and a misting wand to shoot directly toward my face, or matching umbrella hats. I've got problems.
I saw this vanilla honey iced tea lemonade on Pinterest yesterday and I think I'll make some later.
***Oh, and — her blue dress is Albertine. Have I ever loved a little dress so much? No. I don't think so!!! Sleeves are a bit big — the whole thing's still a little too big — but tooooo cute. Love it!
My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com
Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.