Lorelei the Mermaid & Adventures at Cape May
Last week my mom and I took off on our first post-Covid (not that we're really post) adventure to Cape May. We went an entire year in 2020 without doing our CONSTANT jaunts to historic houses and sweet little towns for meals and good times. We missed those times terribly over the holidays - all those beautiful old houses we always visit, all over New England, dressed in garlands and evergreens. Well, this is the year (God willing) we reinstate it all. A return (as Norma Desmond would say)- a renaissance (as Michelangelo would say).
I was actually reinstating and old family tradition by giving my mom this little holiday for Christmas; my parents used to give each other a mystery weekend for Christmas every year, for as long as I can remember. For a while, when I was still living in the U.S. and touring, I gave her an artsy class for Christmas as my gift- the two of us would be looking forward to the Springtime and go take SOMETHING - ANYTHING! One year it was making mosaic tiles (there we were cutting tesserae), one year polymer clay (there we were cranking pasta machines), one year theorem painting (there we were painting velvet, but not with Elvis) - Whatever it was it was always fun and great to be together.
So we set out for Cape May and hit a bunch of antiques shops along the way. It was one of those crazy weather alert days, and it started to get powerfully windy and rainy. We checked into the Angel of the Sea, which was a stunning high Victorian Inn, with florid wallpapers and stately furnishings. The wine and cheese hour had just ended, so we made our way to our room in the 3rd floor turret. Carrying suitcases up a narrow, twisting staircase with a filigree bannister made me think of many episodes of Fawlty Towers, and the many European city hotels I'd stayed in, where you feel like there's a real chance you'll actually die before you get into your room - most likely by falling backward and careening back down all the tiny steps. But the room was beautiful, and a beautiful shape, being up in a roof turret. It had a garden feel with wicker furniture and scrawling green wallpaper with trellises and roses. There were Currier and Ives pictures on the walls, and soaps that looked like sea glass.
The storm picked up and all night long, particularly the first night, the turret room shook and shaked, quailed and quaked. It was terrifying. Half asleep, and awakened again and again by jerks and tugs, I felt like I was dozing in an airplane and being awoken by turbulence. In the morning, all the pictures on the walls had shifted, my nerves were frazzled, but sun was out and we hadn't left Kansas, so to speak.
We did a lot of exploring and antiquing, took some photos of the many Victorian houses with fancy touches and whimsical names. 'May Caper' was my favorite. We had Manhattan clam chowder, lobster and crab cakes. I didn't find ANY hooked rugs that were worth a second glance; the area was very, very weak on antiques, but we did find an inspiring yarn shop - Enchanted Fibers. It was small, but very friendly, and I found some roving that gave me a GREAT idea for an upcoming kit. My mom found some yarns she immediately incorporated into her current punch project.
The shop had a beautiful topiary sheep up high on a shelf. It wasn't filled in with greenery, just the wire form. They plan to drape it with wool, or locks, but all on it's own it REALLY looked neat - for a person who loves wool and thus considers the sheep to the the eternal mascot of the craft, it was a beautiful thing to own. I ended up finding the topiary base on etsy - if you're interested. They're about $100 each, but what a thing to have a bunch of them out on the lawn!
While we were at the Angel of the Sea, I admired their exquisite painted sign - knowing it was the work of another artist and surely an explosive image to hook, so I worked on my own mermaid I'd quickly drawn up the day before we left. My mom and I, in the big wicker bed, working on our projects! Here she is this morning, nearly done, with Pitterpat the cat. This is Lorelei the Mermaid, floating through a reef with the relaxed calm of a jellyfish, the sort of calm I wish I had! She has a Mona Lisa smile on her lips and her eyes closed, drifting through a reef of Alice in Wonderland coral. I have to say, I'm in love.
There are times, in the summer, when we are on our beloved Cape Cod, where I'm out in the pond we've been going to for 40+ years, and I swim way, way out and then flip onto my back and float, just like this. I float and drift and think about my dad, and think about the day, and think about the flea market in the morning, and the little sunburn I already have, and the freckles popping up like little constellations over the kids noses, and when the fish market closes on the pier, and whether I'm too late to get some steamers from them, and whether it's going to rain and ruin the chance of going to the flea market in the morning, and whether you can get cancer from one small sunburn a year, and then the inevitable - I think about that scene from Jaws and picture something swimming up from the deep toward me. Then I madly paddle back to shore doing something closer to the dog paddle than the breast stroke, super sloppy and exactly the kind of flailing that would attract a shark. But not in a pond. But that's just life, isn't it - right in the middle of the dreamy flea market fantasy you get a shark.
Well, happy weekend, everyone! I have Lorelei up on the site, with all the antique patterns from last night's Cocktail Time:
See you all on Monday when we return to William Winthrop Kent!
Beautifully written, love the relationship the two of you share.
It was a magical (albeit windy!) weekend. How I loved walking down memory lane in reading your beautiful words about our grand trips and artsy classes. Many more on the horizon! Being with you always gins (hmmm, gin?) up my creative energy and warms my heart ~ you spin creative magic for us all! Love you my beautiful daughter! XO
Oh my goodness, you are such a wonderful story teller whether by hand or spoken word.
As usual, your stories make me smile!
I love this blog post. The imagery is beautiful and I feel as if I was there with you and your mother.
Days on the lake are my favorite- floating- muffled voices in the background – sculling to start a float – and the sun just sparkling and dancing in the water. The best summers are spent this way.
Wonderful memories to share with us. Thank you.