Yesterday, I hopped into the car, cast aside the drizzle and gloom and trundled up to the Merritt Parkway. As I went over the new Tappan Zee going eastbound for the first time I once again marveled at how quickly they got this project done and of course wondered why other projects, like the rail bridge in Summit take forever. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as my Mom used to say. I had already been over the the new westbound lane in September on my trip home from CC. As I drove along, I took some long admiring glances at what is the state of the art of the the foliage surrounding the river at this point this year. Not the best, but really not too bad.
When I was in California at the end of October, I ran into a couple of people who said they had just gotten back from trips to Vermont to view the foliage. In that uncanny way, I met a man at the Deux Bakery in Santa Barbara and got to chatting. Turns out he lived in Mendham for awhile and went to Delbarton School, where my son did, graduating in 1975 I think he said, and has lived in California since. Small world keeps getting smaller. I can’t recall where I met the other person but I did make a mental note that these oh-so-lucky Californians crave a greater change of season than they have and many need to return to the east coast, albeit for a short time, to remind themselves of certain things they miss out on. Hmmmm. Food for Thought for this person who would love to live in the land of 350 days of sunshine.
Well, anyway, as I trundled along, I got to thinking about our Cape house, as this is my usual route to and fro – which isn’t our Cape house any longer, and how I am already missing certain things about it there. This could turn out to be a problem……. But, that is a story for another day.
I arrived at my exit off the Merritt and worked my way into Weston. Just as I expected I would, I was happily greeted with the endless numbers, personalities and the unmistakeable aura-creating of the stone walls that exist in Connecticut, and I became wistful. I could live here, I said to myself……… There is a charm here that doesn’t exist in NJ – even on my beautiful little plot of land that I love so dearly.
Anyway, I thought about how I had first met Frances Palmer at a class she offered at the NYBG last year. Today was her in-studio open house. The class at NYBG was a fun day as Frances imparted her extensive knowledge about growing Dahlias at her home – a subject I knew very little about even though I have been gardening on a novice level for most of my years. Interestingly, that day I found that we had attended the same high school and graduated very close to each other. I could not muster a memory of her there but I was pleased to know that someone of this talent had grown up around my environs. Maybe there was some fairy dust that had been strewn about her back in the day that had perhaps had settled upon me? I wondered to myself how and when her passions had grown and blossomed into this wonderful dream-like vocation.
I can not recall who clued me into Frances’ Instagram page and her flower arrangements, but I must state that that was one of the luckiest finds I have ever stumbled upon. I have to remind myself daily that Frances is a masterful potter whenever I see her flowers, for, in any event and whichever profession you wish to first crown her with, she is indeed a master. She has an eye that I adore and a skill set that I admire greatly and covet for myself. Her degree of visual acuity and talent are something to aspire to. Even though I will never be able to arrange flowers the way she does, I want to learn whatever I can from her and drink in the joyful color arranging she performs. To me, her creations are like a fanciful dance arrangement and they tickle my fancy and soothe my soul. I absolutely revel in the beauty that she creates almost daily from her garden. I want to clue in on those creative impulses – while she’s scanning and picking and formulating her images in her mind. Then, in her hands, all the stems become something magical. And so yesterday, I very much wanted to see where she lived and worked.
I pulled into her driveway and drove around the curve and parked my car. There is just something very special about being in the surroundings of someone whose work you admire in such a way. I wanted to breathe in her environs with the hope that they would stay with me and tingle on my skin after I’d left. Perhaps too, I might pick up some of her brain power and creativity from the ether around her. I am always in awe of an artist – it is a chip I’m missing but I know enough to cheer, try to learn and admire.
Truth be told, for me, while I value her pottery work and all that it takes to do what she does, I came for the flowers – to see where she grows the specimens that she transforms through her eyes and and out through her fingertips into those arrangements that I swoon over whenever I happen upon them – and some days when I am in need of cheering, I search for them. Even though her garden, like mine, may be near ready to be put to bed for the Winter, and it is a sad time in the calendar, I was happy to see how and where she gardens.
I wandered up to the second floor of the barn to take in the work she was offering for sale. I glanced into her work studio on the first floor but sadly, I didn’t take a few extra moments to study it carefully. I was so disappointed with this faux pas after I left.
Anyway, I carefully studied her offerings – her colors, shapes and expressions, to try to pick up on her creative notes. After circling around and chatting with her briefly – as there was a nice crowd there, I selected one piece that spoke to me and two simple creamware coffee mugs. I could have easily picked several more pieces, ones I found myself thinking about as I drove away, but these are investments to be chosen carefully. A tall dark vase and two small bowls with vivid green adornments stuck in my mind.
I asked Frances if she minded if I took some photos and, lucky for me, she said yes.
Before I left, as people were strolled around her yard, Frances imparted that while there are still a few Dahlias outside, she has to get busy getting her tulip bulbs into the ground. A hard frost is predicted, she said, for mid-week.
Here are some of my photos from the visit. It was a fun outing for me.
At the barn:
Out and about in the yard -where Frances grows her wonderful specimens for arranging:
those classic, ubiquitous and charming Connecticut stone walls:
I will not carry over any of her Instagram posts to this post. Visit her page yourself and enjoy her exquisite work.
I can not say exactly what speaks to me about the beauty of flowers. Only I have come to know that seeing one bloom or masses of color together can instantly lift my mood, and spark my thoughts. There is a comfort to being surrounded with their beauty outside and sometimes with bringing masses into the house. There is the color and form and wonder of their vigor and determination. There is their intricacy and incredible detail as one stem and statement in a collection. And, while I can not say precisely how Frances feels about her flowers and her work, I can relate to her passion and dedication to her crafts.
I hope you will enjoy her page as much as I do.