It's an old settled place where smoke curls from the chimney and natural, honest materials have been used, wood and stone, brick and tile. As you walk up the stone path, perennials flank you on both sides, ahead you notice a large covered porch and your eyes take it all in, geraniums and flowers in pots and cans of every shape and size, foxglove blooming under the window, and clematis climbing up the sides of the porch. The delphiniums shine in the bright morning sun, and a comfy old swing and friendly dogs greet you, the cats sit up yawning as they all come to say hi and welcome you here. As you open the wood screen door and step inside, you enter another world and all your senses come alive A rich complicated smell greets you, one of wood smoke and baking bread, herbs and garlic, frying onions and soup, hot jams and vanilla, yeast and dishwater, somehow all these smells melded together over the years.
The stone floor in the kitchen has been smoothed and polished over the years by the passing of countless feet, and rag rugs are scattered throughout. At the center of it all is a thick handmade wood slab table, scoured and worn over the years by daily use. It has been made strong and stable to last through the years, meals are eaten here, plans are hatched here, as well as laughter and good cheer. In one corner sits the large blue porcelain sink, well worn and used from dishes to baby baths. On the other side is the wood fired range with it's eccentricities and moods, that must be faithfully served to bake bread and boil water, it glows warm overlooking the garden below, with comfy cushioned chairs on either side to take it all in with a warm cup of tea.
In every country cook there is a certain squirrelling impulse and a desire to store good things away into pots, jars, and baskets. Things like chutneys and blackberry cordials, dried fruit, and herbs, baskets filled with apples and cherries, pears and plums. As they wait to be transformed into glimmering jeweled jars of preserves and jams, herb vinegars and oils. The kitchen is a place filled with yeast and milk cultures, vegetables fresh from the garden and whole grains in bins and containers. Hanging from the ceiling are racks that hold baskets and large copper pots, bundles of herbs, and strings of dried onions and garlic.
An alcove off to the side leads to the pantry where all the overflow goes, and although it's a small pantry it is lovingly filled to the brim with every good thing. Large crocks are filled with fermenting pickles, sauerkraut and homebrew. The floor to ceiling shelves are lined with home canned vegetables and juices from the garden, jars of jams and preserves from the berries, and tins of crackers and homemade soups. Strings of spicy sausages and curing salami's hanging from above.
The sunlight coming in through the windows has a warm golden glow, with parsley and chives on the windowsill. The windows are framed by billowy curtains that blow in the breeze on warm summer mornings, and the floors are well swept, the rugs are all shook, and the laundry is hung by the garden below. The farm sounds in the distance, goats calling and roosters crowing, all add to the feeling of a world within a world, where it could all begin and end right here. For within is a refuge of comfort and safety where family and friends are warmed and cherished and generously fed.
PS. I thought about this vision while sitting in front of my woodstove while it was cold and rainy outside and began daydreaming of a long ago farm kitchen on a warm sunny day. So I pulled out my handwritten journal and began to write, some of this dream is already in place in my home, much of it I'm still working towards. I wanted to find a photograph of a kitchen like this and I couldn't find one, so I pulled together a few items in my kitchen that were close by. Milk from last nights milking, eggs from the chickens, garlic I grew and braided, hazelnuts I gathered in the fall, and a loaf of bread I made, winter vegetables from the garden, and a few sprigs of sage. I am a romantic when it comes to the old fashioned ways, and I hope my children and future grandchildren will derive this sense of well being in our own country kitchen.