Sunday, October 04, 2015

What room is the soul of your house?

I know the title sounds a bit like all those quizzes on Facebook such as which dog would you be?

I define soul of a house as the communication and sharing center, where family members come together regularly to unconsciously create internal nourishing memories. 

I am sure for each family, couple or individual (no Oxford comma, Rick) it varies. For me it has. There were the five houses with my ex that never developed a soul, although I wasn't aware of it at the time.

200 Grove Street, Reading MA

The dining room, with its plant-filled bay window looking out on the rose bushes that had their own seasonless beauty, was the soul of the house. Food was important with recipes a regular topic. Meals were a time to tell one another what was happening in our lives.

We played games almost every Saturday night, read books, came together for quick chats. And the wonderful smells of my grandmother or mother's cooking wafting in from the attached kitchen were like a bell to Pavlov's dog. 

I can still picture my mother sitting there with her afternoon cup of tea reading Gourmet.

Tavern Road, Waltham MA

I loved its well-padded, yellow banquette and matching Formica table. Countless games of Yahtzee were played and tons of good meals eaten there. Plans were made, confidences shared, solutions found. (Oxford comma because there is no and, Rick). And it had more electric plug outlets than appliances making cooking easy. Two great meals were Bill's onion soup and his cabbage, noodle, bacon casserole. 

The refrigerator was a message center.

The Riverway, Boston MA

Its kitchen bay window looked out not on a garden but the city that I loved. The room was decorated in in red and white and my bright red dishes made me smile even on a bad day. Hard to be sad against a happy color.

This was where my daughter and I caught up on the events of our day before homework and writing separated us. It included the almost ritualistic Friday night's Soup La Poubelle which was made out of the leftovers of the week and Saturday's fried bread from the dough left over from the week's loaves.

The cat loved perching on top of the cabinets and the memory of Albert, my Japanese chin, learning to open the lower cabinets explained missing food adding yet another memory.

François Lehman, Grand Saconnex Switzerland

This galley kitchen soul room was a little different because I lived alone much of the time although my daughter did spend a good two years with me and RB2 bunked in while he had a local contract. 

Sunday mornings, sitting at the table, staring at the château across the street, drinking hot chocolate brought a sense of peace no matter how hectic the week had been.

When my daughter was in residence it was also the game room, with our two Japanese chins under the table...all four living creatures crowded into a small space.

Argelès France x2

Since my Argelès nest is a studio, the whole place is the soul of the home. The kitchen area is much too small to do anything but cook and then take the food to the table. 

However, there have been wonderful meals with friends and guests. One of the fun experiences was this summer where we put guests in the nest and they invited me to dinner--a guest in my own home. I walk into the studio and my soul goes "ahhhhhhhhhhhh." The ahhhhhhhhhh factor determines which room is the soul for me.

The flat Rick and I share in Argelès, because the nest is too small for us long term, has a wonderful kitchen with the original 400-year-old wooden beams. Stone walls feature fish carvings by a Danish artist. 

Rick and I eat more often in the dining area or on the patio but there is a table and two chairs in the kitchen where we may chat long after breakfast has finished. It feels good.

However, because the flat so suits us, we both work at home, we communicate any place within its rooms, I am not sure that the kitchen is the soul of the flat. It is a joy to work in, but it has taken a little while to get it set up with all the tools I like to use.

The addition of a slow pot cooker, pots and pans that aren't Teflon or other chemically finished, and opening up the middle space has made me love every minute I am cooking or eating in it. I also love when Rick cooks.

I would say in a way the bedroom might be the soul and it has nothing to do with the physical act of making love, but everything to do with love full stop. When we wake up in the morning, one of us gets two cups of tea, we each read or check email, plan the day, giggle, share information on any topic under the sun that it is so special that the kitchen may be relegated down to the heart of the house.

A home with a heart and soul...what more could anyone want?

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