journey through the mists

waterfall (4 of 5)waterfall (5 of 5)

Given that this post’s title can be considered an homage to the superior fourth installment in the Land Before Time saga of my youth, I’m naturally overwhelmed by the timeless qualities of these rain-soaked forest landscapes. With that broad, bold Monstera leaf big enough to shelter a small child from the elements (holes notwithstanding!), the towering banyan trees, and the glistening plateaus of thick uluhe fern clusters, the plant life surrounding this waterfall trek seems magically monumental in scale.

Continue reading

mending walls

country visit part one (9 of 9)country visit part one (1 of 2)country visit part one (1 of 9)

The past week swirled by in a chaotic frenzy of planning: coordinating a research trip, wedding organization, freelancing, endless overthinking…

Some peace, however, emerged after a weekend of plants and the past. Though my work requires that I spend most of my time preoccupied with the mid- and late nineteenth century, I enjoyed visiting a historic “village” from a slightly earlier period – a site that’s also imbued with my own history, as I found it entrancing as a child!

country visit part one (3 of 9)

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

That wants it down. I could say “Elves” to him,

But it’s not elves exactly…

– Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”

Though the restored buildings in this village attract the most attention, I took pleasure in observing the artifacts of countryside life — rugged stone walls layered with encroaching grass, simple fences formed of rough wood, and tall wildflowers hiding from sheep and rabbits.

The experience reminded me, in a synesthetic way, of the rolling tones of the Howl’s Moving Castle soundtrack.

country visit part one (4 of 9)country visit part one (7 of 9)

This dusty path stretched down to a covered bridge spanning a quiet river.

country visit part one (6 of 9)country visit part one (8 of 9)

As I learn more and more about the past, I delight in the constellation of knowledge that takes shape in my mind as I draw connections between people, places, and eras. Because of my travels, I won’t give any more tours until later in the summer – so in the meantime, I will take every opportunity to enrich my understanding of this particular period! (Starting by watching the gorgeous new Little Women adaptation…)

bold like the chestnut burr

overall jumper dress (8 of 8)overall jumper dress (1 of 1)overall jumper dress (6 of 8)

That one sublime moment when the tree adjacent to my home explodes in a cloud of blossoms always marks the end of my winter sadness–and this year’s bloom coincided with the conclusion of my first year as a graduate student! Though I’ll sorely miss discovering the most eccentric and fascinating aspects of medieval art every two days, I am glad to have some time to recover from a challenging semester. Now begins the season of writing letters, reading novels, admiring flowers, and wearing enormous hats to protect myself from the sun!

overall jumper dress (3 of 8)

Inspired by the keenly methodical botanical activities of my favorite poet, I spent all of my finals week dreaming of acquiring a flower press and creating my own herbarium this summer. Considering that I’ve now survived that demanding cycle of paper-writing and sleep deprivation, I’m making such whimsical activities my top priority!

overall jumper dress (4 of 8)

Other ridiculous goals I have in mind for the upcoming months of relative freedom include:

  • finding out absolutely everything I can about nineteenth-century attitudes towards fairies (this is technically for school, but that’s of no consequence if it’s fun!)
  • apprenticing myself in the arcane practice of NAIL ART (since I’ve stopped biting my nails for the first time in my entire life!)
  • [re]learning Latin (it’s been a long time since I superficially studied it in fourth grade, and I’ve felt a strange desire to return to such ancient speech!)
  • carrying out a host of crafting projects for my wedding in August–many of which you might see soon, because my final goal involves…
  • actually blogging regularly! (Oh how I’ve missed writing these strange letters to the world. See you again soon!)

overall jumper dress (5 of 8)

outgoing mail: desert dreaming

cactus mail (1 of 6)cactus mail (5 of 6)

It’s been a while since I created envelopes from a good ol’ pad of craft paper, right?

Apparently such pads are decreasing in popularity, as I purchased this summery set at about 25% of its original price. It’s certainly nothing compared to the thrift of magazine envelopes, but I suppose I can splurge $5 if the end result is this charmingly tropical!

Continue reading

what’s in my mailbox? “I hide myself within my flower”

snail mail july (7 of 9)snail mail july (3 of 9)snail mail july (9 of 9)

As my life has quickly become a wonderfully ceaseless cycle of Emily Dickinson research,  I anticipate that all posts for the foreseeable future may include references to her verse or letters. In any case, I’m happy to hide myself within these flowers (and trees, and sea creatures)–all kindly sent to me in recent pen pal letters!

In praise of her beloved conservatory, Dickinson wrote “My flowers are near and foreign, and I have but to cross the floor to stand in the Spice Isles.” The letters I receive from my pen pals fulfill the same lovely function: I have but to cross the road to my mailbox to stand in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, and Nevada, in this case!

Continue reading

Outgoing Mail: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme

mail (6 of 7)mail (7 of 7)mail (1 of 7)

I’ve never mastered the art of sending pressed flowers or herbs through the mail – dried blossoms always seem to crumble the second I tuck them in an envelope, and as I’m not quite living my dream life of “being a child living in the country in an idealized Victorian-inspired fairy world,” I don’t own a home flower press. Yet.

If I can’t send actual blooms, though, handmade pressed flower and leaf envelopes are the next best thing! An old how-to brochure about immortalizing these ephemeral pieces of plant life has now been reincarnated into outgoing mail.

Continue reading

What’s In My Mailbox? Cactus in the Sky

incoming-mail-8-of-8incoming-mail-4-of-8

Castles and cacti–what more could I ask for in a week’s worth of incoming mail?

When I photographed these beautiful envelopes last weekend, I couldn’t wait to sing their praises with my usual levels of snail-mail passion and panache: and then I fell ill a few days ago. Now I can barely manage more than a shaky “wow, letters are so lovely–so much lovelier than being sick.” Still, I’ll do my best to celebrate that loveliness anyway!

(Even if I just want to collapse on some grand four-poster bed in that imaginary castle my pen pal from Argentina drew for me…)

Continue reading