Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chez Mireille: Echoes of My Mother's House

Mireille's recliner.
My mother's house in Vermont, where I grew up and where I've lived for the past five years, is stuffed with memories. My parents bought the house in 1945 and raised their five children there; it was a gathering place for the extended family for 67 years. Soon after Mom died, I began going through all twelve rooms, plus closets and attic (I skipped the basement), inventorying the contents and compiling a photo album for my siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. After three months of steady work, I was drowning in memories—I needed to get away! Patrick suggested Fontainebleau, the home of his mother. My mother-in-law now lives in Paris; her apartment has been unoccupied for over two years. Patrick got here first and began dusting and sweeping. He threw out the many bouquets of dead flowers. He made friends with the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker (okay, the Internet service provider). I arrived to find everything shipshape. I also arrived mentally exhausted and physically ill (I had the flu). Now I am well on the road to recovery. But is it me, or are there striking similarities between my mother-in-law's very French apartment and my mother's very New England house? Everywhere I turn, I am reminded of home. Some of the reminders are funny, some are banal, and some move me almost to tears. Below are 14 photos—7 taken in Randolph, 7 in Fontainebleau. More to come. Please do scroll to the end—the items in the last photo will never be seen again. And look hard: Eventually, there will be a quiz.
The coffee table in Mireille's living room.
The windowsill above Idora's kitchen sink.
Maurice Texier, 1940-something.
Idora and Ransom Tucker, 1940-something (Dad's in uniform).
A Provençal landscape, by Mireille Texier.
A Vermont landscape, by Ransom Tucker.
Detail of a plate displayed in Mireille's dining alcove.
A plate displayed in Idora's dining room.
Miniatures kept hidden in a box.
Cork people by Sara Phillips, kept hidden in a pouch.
A collection of stuff that might be useful someday . . . 
. . . but probably not.
Souvenir from a beach holiday (Spain, perhaps?)
Souvenir of a trip to the Georgia coast with me.

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