Friday, November 28, 2008


There are people with you
Living in your houses
People from your childhood
Remember how you were...

You were always flying

--Judy Collins, "Houses"

Once upon a time, in a house that had a garden where a very large avocado tree grew, lived four sisters, Aubrey, Ashley, Amber, and Autumn. These young girls also had a much-adored baby brother, named James, but that's another story and shall be told another time.

Aubrey was the eldest, a bright girl with ready answers. Then came Ashley, who wanted to be an artist when she grew-up and meanwhile frustrated her mother by peeling bits of wallpaper off a wall in the living room for "art supplies." Amber was full of creativity and mischief, and in the mornings, she encouraged her sisters to tumble out of the bedroom window, still in their nightgowns, to dance in the garden for the new day. And then, there was Autumn, the "slightly smaller, more irritable fairy."

The expression originally comes from the autobiographical work by children's book illustrator Trina Schart Hyman; Self-Portrait tells of two imaginary fairies that the artist, as a girl, shared with her younger sister. And, it's interesting that we sisters remember this portion of the book somewhat differently than it appears and that both Amber and Autumn vie for the endearment of being called the "slightly smaller, more irritable fairy."

One day in the fall, the four sisters' father and mother told them that they would be going away on a long trip to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. Then, their father said, "You may each bring only one bag."

"What will we do?" the girls exclaimed.

"Don't worry," said their mother, "we will manage."

So, in child-sized knapsacks went sweaters knit in purple fair isle designs, red- and white-striped tights, red wool sweaters with white reindeer patterns, a gray "drop waist" dress with a white collar for Ashley, a red corduroy jumpsuit for Autumn, and other basic items. Clothes managed, the sisters were prepared to have a wonderful time.

Remember when I was telling you about "optimistic fashion?" I realized that I didn't really define it and decided that it's looking your best because you're sure that, just around the corner, exciting things will happen. And, exciting things did happen!

Then, they were in Sweden, and their mother told them that they were to ride a ferry. The sisters thought that she meant "fairy" (they believed any sort of enchantment from this land across the sea) and onlookers couldn't help but be amused by the children's confusion.

But, as you can tell from the picture, the sisters enjoyed the ride, nevertheless.

"When are we going to see the fairy?"


Lisa said...

This is such a wonderfully charming post :) It truly does sound straight from a fairy tale. Hahaha everyone looks so unbelievably adorable. Everyone matches too! Seems like photos out of a magazine :)

"both Amber and Autumn vie for the endearment of being called the "slightly smaller, more irritable fairy." Hahaha, that's so great. I can't imagine how many times that's come up. It reminds me of Alan and I always contend for who was the first to claim a specific seafood pasta meal as our "birthday" meal. I'm still certain it was me, but his birthday comes first, so we always end up having it on his. It's absolutely delicious summer meal no matter who's birthday it's on. So I'm happy nonetheless :)

P.S. Aubrey really does look a lot like me when we were the same age!

Ashley said...

Lisa, my darling! Thank-you! I am very glad that you like the post.

It was really great that we got to celebrate your birthday with you once, near the lake. We had a very delicious seafood dish then, too, and I wonder if it was the special "birthday meal." Your mom always has fantastic recipes.

Hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! We were thinking of you.

lifeinoleg said...

I think this is my favorite post thus far.

Rose said...

This needs to be a book, it is so darling! You want to read more. The expressions in the pictures are so adorable and happy.

hampanel said...

ADORABLENESS. That is all!

grannybabs said...

Your mother regaled us with tales of your adventures in Sweden at our last book group meeting.

Your take is slightly different than hers.

But it's nice to hear both sides!!

And to see the pictures!