I have been waking earlier than ever since our oldest started kindergarten. There is so much to get done in the one hour between seven + eight in the morning, let alone the course of a full day, so I have started greeting the morning whenever it decides to wake me. One thing that makes this possible + I daresay enjoyable? —lamplight.
I woke this very morning to a visual memory I could not, nor did not want to shoo away. It was the warm glow of a lamp, specifically in the kitchens + around the dining room tables of my Irish grandmother + her sister’s family homes. Margaret + Ann, famously known to burn the candle at both ends, seemingly always had “business” to tend to around the large dinner table. In the hours after dishes had been cleaned + children had been tucked in, they played gin rummy, watched baseball, cleaned, polished + identified sterling, + gave us midnight snacks when we couldn’t sleep, all by the the light from a couple lamps—if those lamps could talk!
Most of my memories from hot summer nights spent at their island beach house are illuminated by lamplight. On more than one occasion, I would lie awake in the front room, unable to keep my eyes closed, just staring at the pistachio green painted beadboard walls awash in ambient shades of gold + yellow. They had this way of talking that was just low enough, that we couldn’t quite make out what was being said, without having the raspy quality of whispers from another room. It was altogether intriguing! I couldn’t see my living room from my house, so it added to the experience that was sleeping at “The Island House”. It felt like we got to stay up late, even though we were in bed. Staying in the vintage beach cottage without air conditioning, was like having a sleepover on one big porch, especially when I got to share the bed with a cousin or a few friends.
Then, in winter, we would visit the most jovial of sisters “in town” at the family home they lived in as girls–a grand two story mansion in my childhood recollection. There, they would sit in their kitchen, trying to keep warm over a cup of coffee + oftentimes a hot oven– they did this quite often, wherever they were! Even now, these memories are framed forever in my mind: a silhouetted relative, framed by the darkness + lit quietly by the halos of light the lamps created– a perfect vignette of the feeling that is my memory of these particular members of my family.
It is always the same in my grandmother’s kitchen at her home as well. I recall the first time I noticed the lamp on her kitchen counter, perched just under the cabinets yet still filling the room with the warmth of those summer nights on Sullivan’s Island.
I’ve always craved that coziness in my own home + I’m so happy I have finally gotten around to doing so. There is not much else that makes me feel so “at home” as the comfort a little lamp can provide. I believe its one of the most magnetic elements of autumn + certainly what draws me in to romanticize Halloween year after year.
I imagine this is something rooted deeply in each of us though– we seek the light, even in its smallest, subtlest form. Just as we’re told that eons ago, cave dwellers huddled around small fires through the dark hours of day + night to stay warm + stay close, I huddle here this morning to visit with you.
I am so looking forward to this upcoming porch season.
Do you have any lamplit memories? Where does your favorite lamp sit?