Friday, 14 September 2012 | 29 comments
“Welcome to my office,” Ben says as we climb out of the car. Neat rows of pear trees stretch their limbs out of the morning mist. It’s kind of obnoxious, actually—does he have to brag?—when you consider that my “office” is a cube with padded, circa-1981 salmon pink walls. Ben, by contrast, makes his living here:We grab a ladder and start picking. The crew has been through here once already and most of the harvest is in—they’ll use it to make pear wine, which they then send to a local distillery to make pear brandy—but there are some stragglers. These get sold in the tasting room. We get to take home the “ugly” pears, the ones with spots or lumps or hard patches where they were damaged by insects. For the next couple weeks, bins of the fruit take up residence in our house, and I start thinking of pear pie and pear bread and pear butter. » Click to read more
Monday, 6 February 2012 | 67 comments
I take pleasure in the spareness of this season: the quiet, the grey light, the bare branches. It’s been such a mild winter so far that whenever we get a rare dusting of snow, I find myself walking around in the woods for hours.All the silence and sparseness are a bit misleading, though. I think about the secrets under the quiet white veil; the life that is there, dormant, waiting to wake up; the soil that’s teeming, always, with all kinds of micro-critters. Nature is like this, I think. She enjoys vibrance hidden beneath humble exteriors. Like seeds.And jewel-bright grapefruit. » Click to read more
Thursday, 6 October 2011 | 10 comments
As I get older, I find I’m trading the bold for the subtle, in terms of taste. When I first realized this, I felt boring. I picked up a patterned skirt in a store the other day, admired it; loved it, even; and considered buying it. In the end, it was a little sad, but I put that splashy skirt back on the rack, knowing I’d get more mileage out of something solid-black. This shift translates into food and drink, too. Where I used to love hop-bomb beers, I now seek out well-balanced, layered brews. In food, it’s no longer enough for a dessert to be sweet—I want it to be a sweet that’s worth my time. Something to think on.I’m starting to learn, though, that my growing emphasis on subtlety can be an asset. Everyone notices those sunrises where the sky is awash with fuschia or electric orange, but when I head out the door in the morning, I find myself meditating on the rich, individual colors that, a few years ago, just seemed like everyday, muted morning hues: dove grey, cashmere pink, and pale, Wedgwood blue. Aesthetically, I seek beauty that causes pause. In the kitchen, I crave food that engages the senses. In conversation, I want slow, spreading smiles. It’s the opposite of boring: it’s trading in the immediately stimulating for the steady burn. » Click to read more
Friday, 5 August 2011 | 7 comments
I’m away from DC right now, traveling for work in Mozambique. It feels strange—something of a betrayal—to be writing here, when the Yellow House has become so much about a concrete space, its modest garden, the seasons that whirl around it, and the people who make it home. By contrast, I’m in a cool, tidy hotel with far too much room for one visitor. I worry that my green tomatoes have turned red with no one to harvest them. I fret that a neighbor will email my landlady to complain about our unkempt front garden. I’m happy, though, that I brought along the pictures of this little brown cake. » Click to read more
Monday, 27 June 2011 | 8 comments
Looking back on a few months of The Yellow House, I’m starting to realize that the life I portray here is one where I spend my days traipsing around farmers’ markets, puttering in my little garden, meditating on baking, throwing dinner parties where everyone drinks too much wine, and then documenting it all with excessive parentheticals, too much strikethrough, extra-long sentences, and mediocre photos.
I mean, I actually do all of those things.
It’s just that all the traipsings and putterings and meditations and dinner-partyings are only the tip of the iceberg. The majority of my time is spent at a Serious Job where I work 9 to 5 (or, more unofficially and far too often, 7 to 7). I guess that “traipsing” is just more poetic to write about than “sitting in my rolling chair in my office” (although it was really exciting when I got to switch from a stationary chair to a wheeled one—but I’ll save that story for another day, you lucky reader).