my green vermont

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Better Than Roses

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

Celebrated St. Valentine\’s Day by washing the curtains in the master bedroom, which is the only room in the house to have them.  Since the view out of our windows constitutes a major part of the entertainment around here–the storms coming in, the mountains changing colors, the deer in the meadow, the turkeys in the driveway–we like to keep it unobstructed.  Besides, we don\’t care if the deer and the turkeys can see into the house.  We do have window shades, which we pull down on really hot summer days, and I\’ve noticed that our guests from the city tend to keep them closed at night.

We have curtains in our bedroom because I don\’t much like its proportions, and I thought that, short of tearing down the walls, curtains might make it look and feel better.  The curtains are yellow-and-white-striped toile, to go with the yellow, white, and blue duvet cover, which has medallions featuring a shepherdess and her lute-playing mate–all of which I made myself.  (Don\’t be too impressed:  these are the first curtains I have sewed since 1967, although I have in the interim sometimes made curtains out of bedsheets by poking holes in the hems and running the rods through them.)

I hadn\’t touched the bedroom curtains since the day I hung them three or four years ago.  They didn\’t look particularly dirty, but I thought they must be, so into the laundry they went.  I thought about ironing them after they dried, but I\’ve never ironed curtains, and I don\’t intend to start now.  I know that Ma, in Little House In The Prairie was always hanging \”freshly washed and ironed curtains\” on the windows of their various cabins, and it seemed to cheer everybody up, but I gave up trying to imitate Ma a long time ago–autres temps, autres moeurs.

My Valentine helped me take the curtains down and put them back up, and did not get upset when I tugged too hard at one curtain and pulled the rod bracket out of the window frame, but went quietly to get a hammer and fixed it.  That\’s something we\’ve gotten quite good at, he and I:  when one of us spills red wine or wrecks the car, we figure he/she already feels bad enough, and does not need additional scolding.

Then he took the car to have snow tires put on (don\’t ask) and I followed in the truck so he wouldn\’t have to wait in the shop.  Before all this, at breakfast, we exchanged little gifts, and it\’s always a good thing when neither of us forgets. 

But if he had forgotten, I think (I hope!) I would have had the sense to pay attention instead to the help freely given, the mistakes calmly tolerated–and known that these gifts, given seven days a week, all year long, nourish the heart better than dozens of roses, armfuls of chocolates, or even a diamond tennis bracelet.

5 Responses

  1. Billy Collins, in a reading given at Vanderbilt, said in one of his poems that during the middle ages there were few windows in homes, and the poet was forced to put on his (or her) jacket and go outside to gather material. Now, he says, the poet is spared that chore, and can just look out the window on the world below and then return to his or her desk with ample material. I think his muse is Emily Dickinson. Make sure you are able to pull back the clean curtains and get the view you need.

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