Weekend 35’s: to the border and back

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Recently, I ventured to the farthest reaches of the American side of Lake Champlain with two dear friends. World traveler¬†and food aficionado Erica found that the waitlist for Global Entry interviews was¬†far shorter for those willing to drive to the Canadian border than in most any other city, so we made a¬†mini road trip out of her appointment in Champlain, NY. Along the way, we ate a lot of delicious food in Burlington, took a car ferry across the lake, and received directions to the best local swimming spot from Erica’s kindly DHS officer¬†and interviewer, who provided his geographical insight¬†once he had determined that she had never been arrested. I had forgotten how dry the north country feels¬†compared to the¬†heavy sea air of¬†home. Everywhere smelled of pines.

 

Thanks to Erica for the rare shot of me and my chicken legs!

“But we girls will always say, Farmington’s our home”

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My mom talks a lot about her touchstones in life: old friends, beloved places, certain objects that, when revisited, ground her, reminding her of who she has always been, gently correcting her course in life if it has strayed from what is true to her. She and I share one such touchstone, our dear alma mater, Miss Porter’s School, and yesterday I got to wander its verdant campus, and spend a little time back in the painting studio that was the beating heart of my high school experience.

The next month of my life is going to be a challenging one, but I will take with me the feeling of standing at this sink, washing my brushes out after the blissful escape of a double period of AP studio art. I remember now the satisfaction of tangible progress, even if the day’s efforts would only get painted over the next, even if I merely laid down the first pioneering lines across a blank canvas. I have to remind myself, these days, of my fearlessness and optimism at 17, as I fixed creative whims out of the atmosphere and onto these white, inviting spaces without questioning my ability to do so.

I slipped back into this space of unapologetic self love and expression as though it was a favorite coat come out of the attic in autumn; it felt exactly as I remembered, and the pockets were filled with old paper scraps, little notes to self from a younger, and in some ways wiser, woman.

I remember now, the more vividly for my visit, the girl with paint on her hands, who reveled in the company of 300 incredible compatriots, who felt supported and cheered on by her teachers every day, who chased the most distant corners of her wild imagination, stroke by careful brushstroke, and who would never let anything or anyone, least of all herself, stand in her way. I remember with gratitude the place that taught me to be me, unapologetically.

Mini Guide to Visiting Reykjav√≠k

I fell madly in love with the urban landscape of Reykjavík on my stopover trip last September, and have tried to document the elements that caught my eye here. From rooftops made of colorful tin to medians strewn with volcanic rock, Reykjavík is a fascinating blend of Scandinavian heritage and  frontiersman spirit, a vibrant cultural center that clings to the edge of natural wonder. For this trip, I mainly kept to the city, interested as I was in the art and design scene, but I did make time to reconnect with my childhood Icelandic Au Pair, Stella, and drive down the south coast aways with her (photos to come). Below, you will  find my recommendations for things to see and do in the capital, should you be planning your own trip to Iceland. It is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the places and things that I tried and enjoyed, and hope you will, too. 

Guide to Reykjavík: the city where the wild creeps in | Caroline Goddard | Hope State Style

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Above: Natural landscaping along the medians in the port of Reykjavík. Vibrant tin rooftops take full effect when viewed from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja. The museums and galleries in the capital were enough to keep me busy for days. Residential architecture takes a variety of forms, in a range of materials. Below: My favorite buildings in the city paired the practicality of painted corrugate siding with the whimsy of Scandinavian folk-style trim. Modern minimalism found its place within the capital, too.

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Below: The impressive height of the Lutheran¬†Hallgr√≠mskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, took 45 years to achieve, and makes for an excellent vantage point across the city.¬†The amorphous form of the church’s grounds, as appreciated from on high.

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Above: The stairwell to the top of the tower. The architect of Hallgrímskirkja was said to have been inspired by basalt lava formations in the Icelandic landscape. Below: No-mow perennial grasses hug the rolling topography of the Sculpture Garden Einar Jónsson, providing a bit of softness in an otherwise lunar landscape. A curious apartment building in crenelated stucco.

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Above and Below: A series of charming side yards and gardens, abundant in plant life after a long season of constant light. Life forms appear to be welcome additions to the cracks of city sidewalks, even a large cluster of mushrooms.

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Below: Soft white buildings glow in the half-light so characteristic of Iceland. 

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Above: A home in Falun red, which was traditionally made from a linseed-oil based paint and used to seal buildings from wind and weather. It is an iconic color in Scandinavia, much like our New England barn red. Below: More yards, sidewalks, and city parks that embrace the vivacity of green growing things.

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Mini Guide to Visiting Reykjavík

READ

Independent People, by Halldór Laxness РConsidered a gem in the canon of modern Icelandic fiction, which is saying a lot given that Iceland is fiercely proud of its literary heritage. Bjartur buys a remote sheep farm after two decades of indentured service to the local bailiff, and is determined to achieve total independence, whatever the cost. Read it before you go to get in the spirit.

Icelandic Art Manual¬†–¬†a free pocket guide that you can pick up in most museums in town, or read online (click above). Produced by the Icelandic Art Center each year, it provides¬†details on museums, galleries, exhibitions and happenings country-wide.

Handpicked Iceland, by Gigi & Friends Рa thoroughly vetted guide to the trendiest restaurants, shops, museums and more, no tourist traps allowed. Much of the information is available on their website for your planning purposes, although I adore my tiny, beautifully printed Handpicked Reykjavík that I bought once there.

A Giant Love Story, by Gudrun Helgadottir¬†– One of Iceland’s most popular children’s stories. No matter your age, it’s worth delving into the magical, slightly dark mythology of the culture. Stella¬†brought this with her¬†when she came to Au Pair for us so many summers ago.

STAY

Loft Hostel РI paid 30 euros a night for a spot in a dorm room, which was well worth it: Loft is beautiful, clean, safe and conveniently located right in the center of town. It has a nice bar and open mic area in the main lounge, so a lot of locals come to hang out in the evenings. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, and best of all, I slept like the jet-lagged baby I was under a fluffy down duvet, an unexpected luxury while far from home.

SEE

Hallgrímskirkja РA great way to get your bearings on your first day, you can climb to the top of this massive church for a small fee and look out across the city. I wish I had been there in time to attend a church service or choir performance. It has a legendary pipe organ and apparently excellent music. Something for next time!

National Gallery of Iceland (aka Listasafn or Reykjav√≠k Art Museum) – spread out across three locations in the city, the art of Iceland is a must see. I especially enjoyed the permanent collection of Err√≥’s work.

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Above:¬†Yasmina / D√ľrer’s Stepdaughter, a work by Err√≥ in the permanent collection of the Listasafn. Interacting with a contemporary exhibit at the museum, and in a screening room for a documentary about Richard Serra’s installation, √Āfangar.¬†

Reykjavík Museum of Photography РLocated on the top floor of the National Library, admission is free, and if you are able, take the stairwell up as it is lined with photos from the museum archive, offering a taste of Icelandic culture through its modern history. The gallery exhibits the work of contemporary photographers. I was utterly captivated by the self portraits of Agnieszka Sosnowska Рthe show is now down, but do go to her website for a moment of total peace and fascination.

Sculpture Garden Einar J√≥nsson¬†– A nice quiet place to walk about, the mythological bronzes of Iceland’s first sculptor are displayed freely for the public to enjoy. Located right across the street from Hallgr√≠mskirkja and the delicious Caf√© Loki (see below).

H√≥lavallagar√įur Cemetery¬†–¬†My friend¬†Sif brought me to this beautiful cemetery on the outskirts of the city, where we did a lovely, dark photoshoot¬†inspired by the mysterious light,¬†powerful mythology and humbling natural forces¬†that pervaded my Icelandic experience.

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Above: Sif in the¬†H√≥lavallagar√įur¬†cemetery. Larkspur growing¬†wildly in a family plot. A modern take on the¬†Icelandic wool sweater, designed by Edda Sk√ļlad√≥ttir of¬†Fluga,¬†and sold¬†at¬†Sk√ļma Skot.¬†¬†To see more from our photoshoot, head here.

EAT

Café Loki РSituated on the square overlooking Hallgrímskirkja, Café Loki is named for the Norse god and boasts a menu of traditional Icelandic fare. You must try their Plokkfiskur, in no uncertain terms. This is a traditional white fish and potato mash served on warm rye bread, and it is unbelievably comforting and delicious. Also give their house tea a try, its a blend of Icelandic birch, moss and arctic thyme.

Bakarí Sandholt РA charming bakery that has been run by the same family for almost a century, located right on the main drag in town. A perfect spot for some coffee, skyr (Icelandic yogurt), and a delicious pastry for a candlelit breakfast. (Seriously, they were rocking tall, taper candles when I was there at 9 am).

Tíu Dropar РWorth it, quite simply for the ambiance (see below). An eclectic café and jazz bar with a killer brunch menu.

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SHOP

Reykjav√≠k is so manageable on foot that I don’t really feel the need to go into too much detail about shopping. The above mentioned guides are a great resource, and I’d also simply¬†leave a few hours to explore¬†town, popping¬†your head into the places that peak your interest.

I will say, consider checking¬†out the many vintage clothing shops in town, as well as some of the knitwear and home design stores. There’s definitely a strong Scandi-mod aesthetic to the home d√©cor, so if that’s your jam, come prepared to want everything. ¬†I ended up purchasing a bright orange¬†Umemi Icelandic wool knot pillow¬† from the design gallery Kraum, and I liked the raven coat hanger that Stella had in her house so much that I bought one for my brother for Christmas (unlike most other cultures, the raven is a symbol of good luck in Iceland).

If you really go gaga for design, consider making a trip to the island in March for the weeklong festival HönnunarMars, or DesignMarch. And, for all you knitters out there, be sure to pick up some skeins of Icelandic wool, which is of a unique and very high quality, and take a peek at the plethora of knitwear design showcased in stores around the city. Wool has been a part of Icelandic culture and survival since it was settled in the 9th century: even today, every child learns to knit in school. In other words, you will be in heaven, and you should leave room in your luggage.

PS- I’m purposefully linking you to websites¬†in Icelandic so that you can start to appreciate the beautiful script of the language! Don’t despair though, the English site link should be right there, easy to find.

PPS- To find out more about booking an Icelandair stopover, which is what I did on my way to Paris, visit icelandair.us.

French Garden Inspiration: Paris, Champagne and the Perigord

Photos from my fall in France, bursting with garden inspiration. 

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Above: Berg√®res, the country¬†home of the family de Pusy La Fayette, in Berg√®res-Sous-Montmirail, Champagne.¬†The¬†estate’s meadow of shaggy grass provides habitat for a small flock of sheep, and turns silvery gray-green under a heavy evening fog. A quince,¬†ripe for picking off an old rambling tree, will make an excellent addition to homemade apple sauce. Below: Wisteria conquers a balcony in the 6i√®me arrondissement of Paris, just off the Rue Madame.

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Above: Ikea¬†V√ÖG√Ė chairs and a gravel floor create a pleasant nook for moments spent outdoors at the home of¬†artist and art professor Archambault de Beaune, in Champagne. ¬†Berries in the hedgerow catch the evening light, providing visual interest even as the autumn sets in. A¬†thick canopy of fig leaves overhead in the Salon de Th√©¬†at La¬†Grande Mosqu√©e de Paris,¬†a great place to go for hot mint tea and Middle Eastern desserts after a stroll in the nearby Jardin des Plantes.¬†Below:¬†A long avenue leading to one of several tropical hothouses is obscured by plants spilling from their beds at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris.¬†Enormous yews in fruit mark¬†the four corners of a path intersection. A pretty mystery plant.

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Below: The long allée of trees tinged with yellow at the Chateau Bergères was a perfect place to practice walking mindful meditation. View from Sacré Coeur in Montmartre. I took this photo the Sunday after the November 13th attacks. The large hillside park was packed with friends who, like me and my friend, were sitting in the sun in the peaceful green space together. 

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Above: Views of the formal gardens at Bergères, and out across the grazing meadow towards the forest. You can see the lovely, low and cragged quince tree towards the end of the clearing. Below: The curious fruit of the medlar tree, which looks something like a giant rosehip, and is said to taste like spicy cinnamon applesauce when eaten very ripe. The tree has been cultivated in England and Europe since the middle ages, but is not very well known in the US. This one was growing on the terraced slopes of Saint-Avit-Sénieur in the Perigord, amongst Roman and medieval stone walls. The incredible texture of lichen on wild roadside shrubs; I found that roadsides were so much more beautiful in the Perigord than here in the US, because wildflowers and long grasses were left untouched. 

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Above: A star apple picked from a communal orchard at the town hall in Bergères-Sous-Montmirail. Below: More roadside lichen in the Perigord. 

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Above: The grazing meadow under fog at Bergères. A woodland trail in the Perigord is dotted with Roman walls and rumored to hold caches of truffles, but no local will ever tell you where. Oak leaves along the trail, indicating some possibility of truffles, which have to grow at the base of these trees in particular. House boats along the Seine screened with bamboo for a little hard-fought privacy. The reflecting pool at Bergères, which is well stocked with fish for eating (I had one, it was heavenly, but I have no idea what kind it was). My host parents and their gun dog, Joker, on a weekend walk in the Parc de Saint-Cloud outside of Paris. Below: Last breath of dusk at Bergères before heading back to Paris for the work week.

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If I had to summarize the French attitude to gardening, at least from what I saw this past fall, it would consist of these two basic points:

If you’re lucky enough to have land, plant something useful.

Don’t fuss. Nature isn’t meant to be tidy. Give a garden good bone structure, and then let it be. Have a few designated areas that are kept neatly, but contrast those with areas of controlled wild.

So, I‚Äôm putting in¬†an¬†order with¬†Fedco Trees¬†this week to that effect. I have about 1/8 of an acre of land in Newport, and I want to use every last inch of it. On my list: American filbert (hazelnut), heritage Fall Pippin apples (one of the oldest American varieties), elderberries, a medlar, and I‚Äôm also very excited to try beach plums and marshmallow in the areas of my property¬†at high risk of¬†coastal flooding. I’m also waiting with baited breath to see how my Chicago Hardy Fig and Smyrna Quince trees have overwintered. Is it spring yet?

Tintype or Bust

Tintype or Bust | Hope State Style | Cole Caswell, AGNO3 Lab at The Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME | Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Photography by Caroline Goddard

Tintype or Bust | Hope State Style | Cole Caswell, AGNO3 Lab at The Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME | Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Photography by Caroline Goddard

Tintype or Bust | Hope State Style | Cole Caswell, AGNO3 Lab at The Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME | Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Photography by Caroline Goddard

Tintype or Bust | Hope State Style | Cole Caswell, AGNO3 Lab at The Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME | Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Photography by Caroline Goddard

Tintype or Bust | Hope State Style | Cole Caswell, AGNO3 Lab at The Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME | Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Photography by Caroline Goddard

Tintype or Bust | Hope State Style | Cole Caswell, AGNO3 Lab at The Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME | Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Photography by Caroline Goddard

Victory! I’ve wanted to get a tintype done for my professional portrait ever since I saw Giles Clement in action at the 2014 Newport Folk Fest. Nothing quite so haunting as watching the faces of the world’s best folk music¬†emerge from the murky depths of iron and emulsion beneath the arch of an aging fort. So, when I came across a tintype artist¬†at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine last September, I went for it. Thanks to Cole Caswell of AgNO3 Lab for the lovely shot. The booth and the developing process were inspiration in and of themselves, so I thought I would share a few photos.

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Ps – proud to be sporting my Greek bread bag in the photo, handwoven in the hills of Paros by this amazing woman.