Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Grubby Candles and Quirky Ravens

There's a hint of winter in the air. Just a hint, mind you. Autumn is here and for that I am glad. I got a post card in the mail Saturday. A familiar, brown post card that calls to mind crinkly paper bag lunches and the smell of ink, a smell, to me, like a mixture of blood and fresh air. You know, the thick kind that comes in an ink well for those of us who still enjoy the struggle of a dip nib and the eternal stains between thumb and forefinger, tell-tale signs of an old fashioned writer. The post card announced a sale at a shop my parents introduced me to years ago. The Homestead House sits off a quiet street in North Georgia, a 300 year old cabin, converted to house an assortment of rustic goodies and primitive treasures. The card is hand drawn, hand written, and makes me smile every single time I get it.

I don't get to go for every seasonal sale they have. I maybe get up there twice a year. But it's a treat, a time to look forward to. It brings back memories of my father. He loved the spicy smelling candles, you know, the ones that smell like Halloween smacked into Thanksgiving and oozed happily into Christmas. I still have a jar that one of his favorites came it. I don't have the heart to get rid of it. I'm sure I'll up cycle it into something new, something that makes me smile every time I see it.

The porch of Homestead House groans under the weight of boots and trainers. You have to squeeze in single file the door is so small. The original cabin portion of the shop is tiny; hard to imagine a family living there, working, praying, laughing in that small space. People were closer to each other back then. They had no choice! Every available speck of floor is home to the most luscious displays of folk art delights. Woolly sheep, pillows made from feed sacks, various candles and other wax nick-knacks. My husband jokes that if you can dip it in wax and roll it in cinnamon, you can sell it! I have to agree and intend to do just that one day in my own shop. Ravens perch everywhere! On wardrobes, sofas, stair rails, candle holders, iron chandeliers, even the cash register. I was never a fan of the greedy birds, but their handmade counterparts have stolen my heart as easily as the real thing steals the eggs from other nests. I am the proud owner of one such stuffed "nevermore". He sits on the banister, a little paper flag proudly proclaiming "Primitive" under one wing, a spool for a perch.

A narrow hallway connects the old cabin to the newer portion, still drafty, still creaking under foot. Bottle brush trees decorated with stars, hearts, and pumpkins twinkle with Christmas lights year round. In the autumn, everywhere you turn there are apples, pumpkins, weeping willow motifs and black cats. With Cheshire grins the cats play peek-a-boo from cupboards and corners, some even hanging from the rafters.

They wrap your purchases is plain brown butcher's paper. The bags are paper, with a simple stamp on the front proclaiming simply from where your treasures came. There are soaps that smell like home, candles that smell like fog in the mountains, and potpourri that smells oddly like something in between. I can never quite make it out of there without something. "It followed me home" I tell my husband with a sheepish grin. He smiles, shakes his head, and kisses my forehead. Of course it followed me home. But I encouraged it!

I come away from my visits filled to overflowing with ideas. My fingers itch with creative projects that must be completed. I have notebooks filled with them, all sketched out and ready to go for when I have a few idle moments. I intend to fill my days with cinnamon wax candles and quirky little ravens, and as many of their cousins as I can find the time to make. Perhaps one day my shop dreams will go from idea to online to shop around the corner. I wouldn't carry only rustic findings but I can assure you, you won't have to look far to find a little black cat, a few dozen pumpkins, or a candle that smells suspiciously like my father.
image of raven hooked run from Homestead House website


  1. Wonderful description! I know about the itching fingers, and I sure like that rug.

  2. I just visited the link and I can see why you love the place. I bookmarked it so I can go through it at a more leisurely pace.
    I love the days when we used fountain pens and ink and our desks in school had actual ink wells. (Gee, now you know I'm old.)
    Lovely writing, so descriptive and lyrical.
    Thank you.

  3. Sharkbytes: I know! I'd love to have that rug hanging on one of my brick walls at home.

    Mountain Woman: The shop is lovely! To go inside is like a trip back in time. I can almost smell the cinnamon now.


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