Welcome to Oldfield
I remember during my admission interview at Mount Holyoke College way back in October 1991, the woman interviewing me asked me the loaded question, “If you could do anything you want what would it be?” I hesitated in my response because I was trying to weigh whether or not I should respond with some cerebral, politically correct retort of, “I want to help orphans with AIDS in Africa” or “I want to write the great American novel in my Thoreau-esc cabin in the woods.” Instead, my answer was a little startling to both the interviewer and myself. I said, “I would love to open a shop where I sell baskets, candles, flowers, and tea.”
As I expounded on my new-found realization of what complete happiness would be for me given no restraints of money or ability, qualifications or pressures from the outside world and of “well what would people think,” I rambled on, unfolding this vision that smelled of the sweetest spring lilacs. My “shop” would be some quaint cottage with wide planked barn-board floors that kicked up dust from ages past when you stepped through the dooryard. It would have French doors that swing out onto an old brick veranda where little café tables were nestled beneath a pergola dripping with wisteria. And in this space that I can only describe as Tasha Tutor’s gardens meets European farmhouse, this world would be a refuge for friends who like to walk around sipping their English Breakfast warmed by the glow of candles as they cut their own flowers from my gardens, resting their blossoms in antique wicker gathering baskets.
Essence – that’s what this place would have. Essence and character that could only be captured by walking into my world, taking a peek through my looking glass, and seeing how beauty and peace can commingle with the romance and mystery of a Bronte or Dickens novel. And within this glorified potting shed, each teacup, sideboard, cake plate, and linen would have a story of its own.
Sigh…so I guess what I am trying to get at is that Oldfield was born of this musing. In July 2007, I jumped in (without even holding my nose) and began the frantic bliss of collecting old pieces of furniture that needed a little love, pieces that told me their stories as I sanded out scratches and revived them with a rub of fresh paint. They shared with me where they had been and how they had lived – that they held grandma’s fine bone china for 75 years, that they were handcrafted by great, great grandpa in Ireland and shipped to Brooklyn to hold the new baby’s clothes, and then passed down to hold each successive baby’s clothing for the next century. It’s amazing how worn and weathered pieces can find new life with a little love, a palm sander, and some paint.
The summer of 2007 filled our basement and beyond with things…lots of things…too many things if you ask Justin (my husband). Things found in dumpsters, at yard sales, auctions, antique/junk shops, and even discards on the side of the road. I know I have a long way to go to recreate the “physical space” that I described to that interviewer almost twenty years ago, and I’m working on it all the time. But I hope I have shown a bit of that essence of Oldfield.