Note: Photos and text are from Anna Kasabian's newest book, "New England Style," and are used with permission of Rizzoli International Publications, 2003.
By Anna Kasabian
The burgeoning of spring (in New England) is a dramatic and emotional time. All of us are craving warm sun, the familiar rhythmic sound of our porch swings and rockers, and the flutter of new birds at our feeders. One place, though that declares to us that the cold is long gone is Oak Bluffs (Martha's Vineyard). Stroll the neighborhood full of gingerbread cottages; the bright blues, hot pinks and apple green laced in crisp white carvings, the porches lined in wicker and the spring flowers opening make the point so perfectly.
Our summer places allow us to create environments that give us breathing space for our personal style. We can create our own fantasy, one that might suggest the setting or, in our choice of decor, the period in which the cottage or house was built. We can shape a place so that it contrasts so much so with our winter homes that we feel very, very far away from reality. It is the same reason we choose one inn over another -- the farm vacation in Maine instead of the converted mansion in Vermont.
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There is a lot of feedback in an old house. Wide pine floors may have handmade nails threaded across the boards that look like top hats. They've risen over time, as the ground has moved and reshaped the house, and they greet or snag a passing woolen sock.
Front and back stairways have their distinctive creaks as you move about. Somehow you memorize those sounds without even realizing it, so when someone's little feet pad about, you know just where they're off to. The kitchen fireplace that you have come to know may need logs piled higher than the living room's hearth. As the seasons change from fall to winter, each room takes on a heightened personality. You have to remember to put the draft stopper between the library and the baby's room. The third rock from the left on the stone wall will need a little adjusting before the snow comes. It always falls. You just know that.
Winter in New England can last from November through April -- six months of snowy weather, sleet storms and rawness. When you look out your window and watch the first snow of the season, you feel as though you are in one of those little plastic domes that, when shaken, brings flakes in a fury. Fat and lofty flakes stick to the porch furniture, the top of the stone wall and the edge of tree branches. The light changes this season. We have more dark days and find ourselves craving the warm sun. Bright ski parkas, multicolored ski scenes on our sweaters and blankets and rich, warm patterns in our rooms ease us into this season of white.
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