Years ago, when I was still working as a lawyer, I went to the New England Flower Show. It was not as interesting as I had expected: many of the displays were made with flowers so perfect that they looked plastic. They looked stiff and formal, not at all the way I like my flowers to look, which is wild. I’m with Marianne: I would have preferred Willoughby’s flowers to Colonel Brandon’s as well.
But there was one display I loved and still remember. It was the front of a cottage surrounded by a garden, and the garden smelled so sweet! It was labeled a Witch’s Cottage, and all the plants around it were herbs, or old-fashioned flowers like violets and pinks. I thought, that’s where I want to live, in the Witch’s Cottage.
Years later, I read what became my favorite decorating book, which is not a decorating book at all: Elephant House, which was written about Edward Gorey’s house just after he died. It’s filled with photographs, and the one thing you can tell from them is that the house was absolutely distinctive. No one else could have lived in it but Gorey. (Nowadays, it is a museum.)
I called this post “A Witch’s Cottage,” but it’s really about my desire for a Writer’s Cottage. I have a dream that someday I’ll be able to have a cottage in which to write, a small cottage with a garden where I’ll grow old roses, and violets and pinks. It will have an herb garden. Inside, it will be lovely and eccentric, and filled with light. And it will be distinctive, the sort of place that only I could create.
Tonight I am very tired, and I’m almost homesick for that Writer’s Cottage, or Witch’s Cottage, because a writer is very like a witch. With her cat, making magic with words. And maybe changing the world, just a little.