Late February Field Notes

I have the windows of my house flung wide today, letting in the scent of sunshine and Fraser Valley fertilizer.  Fertilizer aside, it’s been a pleasant afternoon of dumping rainwater from my empty garden urns, pulling last year’s dried stalks from the lavender plants and inspecting the new (early!) growth of my chives. Spring things are beginning to happen everywhere; my bridal wreath spirea is sprouting feathery red bits that will soon burst into the hazy white veil it takes its name from, my hydrangeas are budding leaf pods and the bare tree branches, if you look very hard, are noticeably pregnant, ready to deliver any day now.  I’m waiting for Spring with the anticipation and attention of a new mother. Spring, like the birth of new babies, just never gets old.

Last week I took a little imaginary trip to Latvia.  (Sorry, I went without you, it was quite unexpected.)  To be honest, Latvia has never been on my radar before.  Which is remiss of me, since its capital city, Riga, was the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvia is bordered by Estonia, Lithuania and Russia and is perched on the edge of the Baltic Sea, (more romantically known as the Amber Sea) in case you’re scrambling to place it on your mental map. It’s also one of the best Eastern European budget travel destinations ~ with all the history, charm and incredible architecture one might expect of a European Capital of Culture.

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But now that I’ve enticed you with Art Nouveau architecture and baby animals, let me show you the reason I ended up in Latvia in the first place. These girls!

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Oh, is there not something sublime about  girls in white dresses? (Can you hear strains from the Sound of Music? “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes!”  Rodgers and Hammerstein must have been similarly inspired.)

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I chased their ethereal beauty to a Latvian luxury children’s clothing company, Aristocrat Kids,  whose handmade dresses are inspired by fairy tales.  This line is called A Royal Tale, featuring European vintage detailing and fine fabrics.  If that doesn’t quite capture your imagination, perhaps the Royal Garden or the Magic Bird collection might?

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As lovely as those photographs are, I have mixed feelings about children in the fashion and entertainment industry.  I loathe to think the unpretentious innocence that so captivates us, may be lost to our adult commercial pursuits. I dug long and hard through photo archives to find kids who didn’t look like they were modelling.  I think that says something about the effect of projecting our fantasies upon kids. Beauty and privilege, even in story book form, shape our expectations of our lives and ourselves.

That said, I’m still rather a sucker for fantasy.  I’ve spent much of February on imaginary journeys to Suffolk,  St. Petersburg, Paris & Latvia, filling my house with blush tinged silk roses from the craft store and making a paper mache princess cat via an enchanted online class with the lovely Laetitia of Merveilles Enpapier.  I suppose there are worse ways to spend February than in fantasy land.

And now comes March.  An old friend and I, both who waited out the winter months in a fog of confused neurochemistry, wrote a little verse we’d chant in unison to encourage ourselves through to Spring.

“January! February! March! March! March!”

Keep marching.  Only 22 days, 12 hours and 55 minutes until the official start of Spring!

 

 

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Photo Credits: Baby animals: casajacaranda.tumblr.com, www.wewomen.com, pixdaus.com, Architecture: Luigi Nasi, Aiga Redmane for Aristocrat Kids, Penguins: this-is-wild.tumblr.com

 

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Come Away ~ Paris Shop Windows

My brain control centre has been  clamoring for a pleasure rush this morning. Did you know that no matter what you crave, it can all be traced back to your neurons and really has little to do with what you think you desire?   Knowing this, I suppose I could have satiated myself otherwise. But was inspired instead to a double glazed chocolate croissant and cream puffs for breakfast. Really, who am I to refuse the control centre?

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I’ve been thinking about Valentine’s Day this week, since it’s right around the corner.  I like to consider Valentine’s Day a season, one that lasts pretty much all year.  Blush tinged roses, decadent pastries, new books. I’m an unabashed consumer of lovely things. And sometimes, I’m the lucky recipient of them. Like my new imaginary travel journal, which has taken up residence on my coffee table.  Because who knows when inspiration may strike next?

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Golden calligraphy makes any sentiment look good, don’t you think?  And as they say, self affirmation is an important practice.

I’ve been debating taking an imaginary trip to the City of Love. It’s a bit passe though, isn’t it?  Everyone’s flocking there this time of year. But I can no more resist Paris shop windows than I can cream puffs. So I’m afraid we’ll have to go anyways.  Don’t worry, we’ll be quick.  I only have an hour before I have to return to my imaginary job as a Printemps Paris window designer. Oh, the headaches I’m having with this display! (I should really see my therapist soon.)

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Printemps, which alludes to Spring in french, is not only a department store, it’s a historic monument.  When it opened in 1865, it boasted the latest in everything ~ electric lighting! electric heat! ready made dresses! imported fancies! For an intriguing fictional exploration of 19th century consumerism, check out  Mr. Selfridge , the story of  Harry Selfridge’s Flagship Department store in London.  And  PBS’s The Paradise, based Emile Zola’s  novel, Au Bonheur Des Dames,  which describes “the poetry of modern activity.” Both  series are available on  Netflix. I’ve spent many evenings power watching each in the name of history.

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But we’re not here to talk about television series.  We’ll barely be able to peek into the windows of a few lovely shops, but we’ll power walk, ok?  The Hotel Costes’ shop is a dedicated rose boutique inspired by  Josephine Bonaparte’s love of roses.  It always has a must see display of roses.  (Do follow the link and take a longer look. Divine.)

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And what’s not to love about wild, romantic tangle of petals and foliage tumbling out the open door of 360 Degrees?  I’ll take one of everything, gift wrapped!

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Or Odorantes, which I’ve been lusting after simply forever… How many times have I fancied myself a floral shop owner?  But this line between reality and fantasy is becoming more and more blurred and I must get back to work.  My window display awaits me.

Oh look! A petite Parisienne outside the flower shop pulling petals off a rose! Tres jolie! I must get a picture even if means my job.

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What a lovely lunch hour it’s been.  Thank you for accompanying me on this fanciful (if hurried) jaunt. And Happy Valentine’s Day, where ever it finds you.  Be sure to indulge yourself in some beauty.

 

Photo credits: Creampuff: n/c, Printemps window: n/c, Printemps signage: pinterest, n/c, Hotel Costes: Aryana Francesca Urbani, 360 Degrees: via pilgrimandpie blogspot, Odorantes: via awhitecarosuel.com, Petite Parisienne: Pinterest, n/c