When we bought this house, it was with the idea that we would keep our house in Rochester until fall. We never wanted a second home, as neither of us believe that home maintenance is compatible with vacationing. Still, we’re temporarily in this position and trying to make the most of it.
I fancy myself a sort of Johnny Appleseed, traveling hither and yon all summer in pursuit of the perfect plein air painting. I wonder what ol’ Johnny would make of wandering in modern America, doing business from the trunk of his car. It’s not enough to have folding money in your jeans; you have to be able to order stuff online. When you do and you have multiple addresses, your credit cards get all kind of crazy.
Johnny Appleseed was, in fact, a shrewd businessman. He left an estate of over 1,200 acres of nurseries in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and four plots in Indiana, including a nursery with 15,000 trees. It makes you wonder how he wired money home. We can do it online, but the trade-off is a proliferation of things to manage.
At the end of May, I drove a truck here with enough of my earthly possessions to minimally outfit the new house. When people have asked to stay this summer, I’ve tried to be clear about three things:
- I need to work, so won’t be going out on a schooner with them;
- They need to be responsible for their own meals;
- Yes, I am happy living with very little stuff.
Hospitality is so ingrained in my training that I have a hard time putting this into practice. However, I’ve had company almost every day I’ve been here. This being my busy season, it’s necessary to set limits.
I haven’t really missed the creature comforts of our big Rochester house, and there’s great peace in minimal possessions. For one thing, I’m never fishing through stuff looking for the tool I need. For another, it’s visually restful.
I’m not totally bereft. There are three beds, a couch, a small kitchen table, dishes for four, glasses, a small iron skillet, a larger (warped) frying pan, three cooking knives and various bits and bobs that cooks find useful. Nevertheless, this streamlined kitchen shocks people.
“I could run out and buy you a 12-cup coffee maker,” several have offered. I remind them that I already own a nice 12-cup coffeemaker in Rochester. I don’t want a spare after we reintegrate our two households.
Most conversations with guests go along like this:
“Do you have a [fill in the blank]?”
“I have TWO [fill in the blanks]. They’re in Rochester.”
To avoid this conversation, I’ve taken to telling people that I’m just camping. That doesn’t seem to deter them. Last week a guest asked me, “Do you have an egg cup?” When I said no, she asked, “How do you live without an egg cup?”
Guests also want to rearrange my kitchen for me. An apparently empty canvas is irresistible to a kitchen artist, because each time I wave goodbye I must next reset the kitchen back to the way I had it.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park from August 9 to 14. That’s—gasp—next week! Click here for more information! Download a brochure here.