Saturday, December 13, 2014

Winter delight

Vuillard: Deux femmes sous la lampe (from here)
When I was five years old I was an only child, and we lived in a big schoolhouse right on the borders with England.  My father taught in a school in the nearest village.  The school in our garden was for those in our hamlet, all of us mixed ages together in one room with one teacher who told us if we picked our noses they would fall off.
Winter was a good time, because if it snowed the few yards to the school at the back became a journey.  Coming home meant coming back to the warm range where my mother made a raw egg and cocoa drink and I was allowed to light the lamps.  I would then read with my mother in the warm light of the lamp sitting on the range.  A cosy small world in a rattling house with no electricity.
On the nights when my father tutored the local farmer's son, I led my mother up to the one bedroom we shared.  The floors of the other rooms were covered in newspaper-wrapped apples from the trees in the garden.  My mother was afraid of the dark, and especially on the stairs.  I loved the almost dark that cast about the lamp as we moved - the looking to see how things were changing. 
Even now I dislike a strong artificial light unless I am working - as in an office, workroom, or a kitchen - otherwise sufficient spot light clearly to read or stitch is enough.  On Winter nights being indoors with the enveloping shadows is the season's delight.


  1. What a lovely evocative post and the Vuillard fits perfectly.
    My mother tells of being able to trim her lamp to the merest thread - just enough to keep it going until her Aunt and Uncle passed her door on their way to bed - then she would turn it up and it would flare again so she could read.

  2. Such wonderful memories full of warmth and comfort. The Vuillard is so beautiful and fits the post: it reminded me of Vilhelm Hammershoi's paintings, exuding the same aura of domestic serenity.