Explore Your World

My husband and I recently spent a delightful fall day with my sister and brother-in-law being together, long overdue, doing the things that make fall in New England a unique and special time of year. The day began with a Mass in memory of my parents. While attending a church service is not unique to New England, it’s setting certainly made it so: a tiny chapel set on a quintessential New England landscape. Soft rolling hills and farmland surround the site. The more unique feature was that the Mass was said in Latin. It’s been several years since I experienced that. It was a throwback to my youth and available so close to home. Who knew?

After the early morning Mass, we were off to the General Store for coffee and breakfast treats, energy for the activities the day would bring.  Next up, apple picking.  The local orchard offered rows and rows of favorite varieties, Macoun, Gala, and McIntosh among them to fill a bag, snack on, and use as a backdrop for a few selfies. And of course, what apple-picking adventure would be complete without enjoying an apple cider donut? Not this one, for sure.

Our next stop was a visit to Fruitlands Museum. It’s not just a museum as its name implies. Rather, it’s a collection of museums and exhibits set on over 200 acres of meadows and woods. One most interesting Natural Historical Landmark on the site is the original farmhouse that served as home to the Fruitlands experiment of 1843. It may better be known as the childhood home of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women. As one of my favorite childhood books, it was fascinating to tour the rooms and learn how much of an impact this farmhouse, the family relationships and her father’s failed utopian experiment had on her as a young girl.

How often have I seen the museum sign as I drove down the highway? The beauty and the history of the land and its people is all right here for the taking. Who knew? It reminded me of a story my dad used to tell. When he arrived in America as a child, he settled with family in Charlestown, MA, home to the Bunker Hill Monument. It wasn’t until he was married with children of his own that he made a visit to the monument. It was just a few miles, and yet, a world away.

A craft fair was being held on the grounds of Fruitlands on the day we visited. It was complete with many characteristic artisans offering jams and jellies, hand-crafted jewelry, and photographic artwork. One vendor, BeezbyScranton who turns books into handbags, caught my eye. The vintage book purses are works of art and give beloved books new life while protecting their integrity and the memories that go with them. So often I see that books are precious commodities to clients. They represent so much in a person’s life and are one of the most difficult possessions to let go when decluttering. If it weren’t for my fall day in New England, I may have missed out on this unique and special way to preserve a cherished memory and share with others.

Explore your world. You never know what you might find.

Getting Rid of the Stuff, Not the Memories

Peter Walsh was in town recently to support the efforts of the Littleton Children's Fund, a group raising funds to build a playground in memory of a little boy who tragically drowned when he was just 10 months old.  The event's theme, De-clutter Your Life, was presented in conjunction with O Magazine, and began with An Evening with Peter Walsh.  During this surprisingly intimate gathering, Peter very graciously mingled with the crowd, taking time with each guest to autograph books and take photographs.  Peter then gave some brief remarks sharing stories and insights from his many years as a professional organizer, host of the hit TLC series Clean Sweep, and author of several best-selling books.  I'm in the process of devouring Peter's latest book, It's All Too Much.

One of the things that Peter spoke about, and that struck a personal note with me was about the types of clutter we hold on to, specifically, memory clutter, things that remind us of the past.  If we get rid of the stuff, do we get rid of the memories as well?  As I clear out the contents of my parents' home, together with my sister, we are barraged with memory clutter. There is the bowl that was used exclusively to serve cheese curls at every birthday party, holiday celebration and family gathering, with all the cousins present and accounted for. The dining room hutch, which I dusted every Saturday, is home to sets of dessert plates, each with a different floral pattern and matching cup and saucer. When it was my mother's turn to host 'The Club Girls', Mom's friends since childhood (90-plus years strong), the table was lovingly set with this china. I can still hear the chatter, laughter, and clacking of knitting needles, not to mention the taste of Mom's homemade cheesecake, served to The Club Girls without fail.  A row of shot glasses live on the top shelf of the built-in china cabinet. After a long day of building snowmen and forts, ice skating in the parking lot of the high school athletic field or sledding the hills of Tufts University, when we came home cold and wet and couldn't feel our toes, my sister and I were greeted with a bit of brandy in a shot glass; a quick fix for a rapid warm-up. 

Broken crayons, spools of thread, recycled ricotta containers - each item tells a story, and adds to my ever-more-precious memory banks.  There is a lot of stuff, decades of stuff that needs to go; the memories will last forever.