Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wishful Thinking {guest post ~ Les Voyageuses}

Before I met my husband, before we had a daughter, travel was a big part of my life as an individual, and then of our lives as a couple. For much of my life, I would have said that travel was the thing that defined me. I didn't know how to stay in one place. I traveled as an infant and as a child, as a student, and later as a journalist. I depended on change. Wanderlust had been in my family for generations. It was woven into the fabric of my understanding of the world. Back then, my wishes and dreams all hinged on the next stretch of highway, the next airport, the next horizon. I longed only to wake on unfamiliar turf, with the heady scent of the unknown tempting me out to explore as yet untrodden streets.

Even our transition to a family of three was defined by travel. When we first met our daughter, my husband and I were all the way on the other side of the globe, in Eastern China, halfway through a whirlwind tour of three different regions of that vast and ancient land. The scents in the air had never been more foreign, the horizons never more utterly unfamiliar. 

These days, by necessity, we find our adventures closer to home.  There are so many reasons why, including our daughter's many required surgeries (she was adopted with a severe cleft lip and palate), our work, and this particular stage of our life as a family. We still hike in the mountains when we can, take long bike rides around the lakes as often as possible. And in my studio, I will admit, I do my most far-flung daydreaming. In my studio, I can wander the world time and again in my imagination. I can trace the images of distant places with pen and ink on heavy paper, using the well-worn and familiar tools of my own trade. There is a great satisfaction to that kind of dreaming - creative dreaming.

I have no regrets. Parenthood has proved to be a thrill beyond any I ever imagined, and my daughter is a magic thing, a changeling, an alchemist, a diamond as big as the Ritz. In fact, now that I've learned to have (and to love) a home - a corner of the world that serves as a microcosm for myself and my little family - I have begun to daydream about carving out little exotic sanctuaries in and around that home, places where the mind can wander.

My most recent bouts of wishful thinking, it being the beginning of the summer season, center around the idea of an outdoor dining area. Food is a big part of our lives, as my husband is an erstwhile chef. When I wander online, it's most often to places like An Indian Summer, and Maryam Montague's wonderful My Marrakesh.  Maryam's images of outdoor entertaining and ambiance - at her own spectacular Peacock Pavilions as well as at other homes in and around the city - are peerless. I have been so inspired that last summer, when I wanted to create an outdoor setting for my daughter's third birthday party, I used one of Maryam's wonderful Moroccan wedding blankets, as well as some Kilim rugs spread on the grass, Moroccan lanterns and glasses of iced mint tea, to set the scene.

My great dream is of a backyard oasis - a long picnic-style table spread with hand-woven fabrics and rows of candles in heavy glass. Of lanterns casting flickering shadows on the aspen leaves. Of a hushed fountain where goldfish flit silently beneath the shadows of scattered roses. Of a hedge of fragrant lilac in the spring, and grape vines turning from palest green to russet in the fall. I dream of African mud cloth, of beaten copper salvers to hold glasses of iced mint tea and the homemade bread that my husband bakes, of embroidered cushions set with tiny mirrors to reflect the candle light as the last of the sun turns the Western sky to indigo.

This is how I dream these days. We have bits and pieces, but the whole will have to wait - for another era of our lives, a time not so busy and so fraught and so full of more pressing needs. For now, we have good food, good family, good company, and of course our dreams. There are many things in this life that we can live without, but no one can live without a dream. 
There's no question, I love Maia's idea of dreaming and wishful thinking.  When I first discovered Maia, it was via her incredible artwork.  I fell in love with her Les Voyageuses collection  of whimsical illustrations {the crumb is a procurer of two} which has since expanded into an array of paper dolls, hand-sculpted dolls {and we cherish ours} and animals and now hand-finished textile prints.  She isn't only an amazing artist, but she also makes my heart smile with every post she shares about her beloved Q. I look forward to the day our two girls play together, and Maia and I are able to talk travel and art for hours!
[images via Une Envie de Sel]


  1. this post is so beautiful. each word is glorious, filled with graciousness.

    so nice to meet you, maia.

    thank you, mel.

  2. what a beautiful poem-post and dream. lovely to 'meet' such talented blogger and writer. nice share :)

  3. This is so perfectly written. I wish more bloggers took time to write, this is inspiring and beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us. I've also traveled previous/post baby and it only gets more magical.

  4. Thanks for your sweet words, Melissa! Q and I are also eagerly anticipating the day when we can all get together and spend a long, leisurely afternoon catching up! I know we'll be out to the Bay area again one of these days! OX

  5. Beautiful post, like only Maia can craft. She has magic in her hands, a very talented artist.

  6. A lovely post that just made me smile. I would like to spend some daydreaming time in her studio as well. I can only imagine the inspiration that would come...

  7. what a beautiful captivating and sweet! lovely!!!

  8. Gorgeous post! Your post made me want to fling myself into a crazy traveling adventure, while simultaneously locking myself into my studio to create...! :)


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