Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: Ten years at home

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ten years at home

Childcraft, 1949 ed., v. 2
Christopher Morley wrote Song for a Little House. It was anthologized in Childcraft which I read so many times that I instantly see this illustration when I read the poem now. (I don't think I'd welcome hovering butterflies inside, but the other imagery is very evocative.)

This week marks the 10th anniversary of my move to our house in Winthrop Harbor.*  It is the longest time I have lived in any one house/dwelling in my life.   The house in Northbrook was "home" from 1962-2002, but I actually lived there only from 1962 until I went away to college in 1970. I returned for breaks and for two summers, but from the fall of 1972 on I no longer lived there.

Growing up I lived in an apartment (Chicago), our first Northbrook house, another apartment (Glenview), and then "home" again in Northbrook.   In college I lived in a dorm room, my sorority house, and two summer apartments. As an independent adult I've lived in two apartments (Brenham), a mobile home and a house (Pittsburg), two houses (Portland and Auburn), two houses (one rented, one owned) (Fargo), and finally two houses in Illinois including the one that inspired this post.

(*MY move to OUR house because we had a commuter marriage for two decades. When Stevens retired at the end of 2008 he moved in with me.)

In 1912 Morley wrote a poem about a dream house that I think I'd like very much indeed, though "windows with small leaded panes" wouldn't be best for a quilting studio.  Perhaps the dream house could have an addition. :) 
IT should be yours, if I could build
The quaint old dwelling I desire,
With books and pictures bravely filled
And chairs beside an open fire,
White-panelled rooms with candles lit--
I lie awake to think of it!
A dial for the sunny hours,
A garden of old-fashioned flowers--
Say marigolds and lavender
And mignonette and fever-few,
And Judas-tree and maidenhair
And candytuft and thyme and rue--
All these for you to wander in.
A Chinese carp (called Mandarin)
Waving a sluggish silver fin
Deep in the moat: so tame he comes
To lip your fingers offering crumbs.
Tall chimneys, like long listening ears,
White shutters, ivy green and thick,
And walls of ruddy Tudor brick
Grown mellow with the passing years.
And windows with small leaded panes,
Broad window-seats for when it rains;
A big blue bowl of pot pourri
And--yes, a Spanish chestnut tree
To coin the autumn's minted gold.
A summer house for drinking tea--
All these (just think!) for you and me.
A staircase of the old black wood
Cut in the days of Robin Hood,
And banisters worn smooth as glass
Down which your hand will lightly pass;
A piano with pale yellow keys
For wistful twilight melodies,
And dusty bottles in a bin--
All these for you to revel in!
But when? Ah well, until that time
We'll habit in this house of rhyme.


  1. What a wonderful poem, and 1949 was my birth year, too! Thoroughly enjoyable.

  2. I love the poem, too. I used to have that Childcraft book, but somehow it has gotten away from me. I still have hopes that my son has it. I love your home!


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