It’s a Swedish Morning in Dorset. The air is still, low light highlighting the leaves. The sky’s a smooth blue wash, the air cold and the sun warm. It evokes feelings of the Archipelago, reflections on lapping water, rounded rocks bordering dappled forests, the boats tied at rest.
It’s a Seattle Morning in Dorset. Upstairs, there’s a queue for the bathroom, downstairs a rush for the kitchen. It will be an hour before hot water replenishes. I remember calling the time up to the kids, 20 minutes then 10, before we had to leave for school. The moaned responses, gathering the things for the day, organizing the family’s tasks. Do we need dinner; what time should I pick you up?
Home is where you are made welcome, where you feel needed, where you find your peace.
Should house, home, life, be clean or cluttered? Two columnists exchanged letters in FT Home after visiting one another’s spaces. One aspired to Kondo-style austerity: Anything that doesn’t make you happy or isn’t absolutely necessary should be touched, thanked and sent on its way. The other embraced Freddy Mercury style disorder: I want to lead the Victorian life, surrounded by exquisite clutter.
I tend towards the latter. Disordered spaces feel more personal and creative (as long as they are clean). The workshops and atelier's of artists and writers are dens of chaos, filled with inspirational memorabilia collected from travels and friends. It’s cozy to be among the soft furniture, shelves of knick-knacks, and displays of art and photos that chronicle a life richly and happily lived. It suggests, too, that the owner will have similar embrace and care for future times and peoples.
“I discovered that having each thing in the right place was not the well-deserved reward of an ordered mind, but a pretense to hide the disorder of my nature.” ― Gabriel García Márquez
There’s a comfortable clutter of people too. The cardiologist waves and rushes to clinic; the kids’ come by asking about forms they are filling in. I set aside a NY Times article about whether ‘roommate groupings’ might fit lifestyles where people want to live their own life, do their own things, but return to a familiar home base each evening. Cohousing mixes shared and individual spaces, diverse professional residents, combines privacy, community and sociability.
For the moment, it kind of works. Its better than rattling around the empty house, warmer and larger than an apartment where I only pass neighbors in the hallways.
The Greek mom joins me for a coffee in the garden and brings her hyacinth out for some air. She offers to make dinner for everyone this evening. Language differences prevent much conversation, but we can agree it’s a nice morning to enjoy a half-hour’s quiet before the day truly begins.