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A feminine touch (05/04/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven"¦or from Hearts Desire, Pier 1, an arts and crafts show, Martha Stewart everyday, Penney's white sale, or from Pieces of the Past. When it comes to decorating a house and adding those special touches that make a house a "home," women are all designer pillows, accent throws and rugs, decorator wall hangings, and strategically-placed, 3-way lamps. One thing is always "bringing out" the dominant or secondary hue in something else. The trick is to be eye-catching and classy without appearing gaudy.

When mom and dad find themselves the lone duo in their home, it's often an instigator to shave down and spruce up. The married kids are encouraged to retrieve belongings left behind and to clutter their own closets with nostalgic mementoes. Now, certain rooms take on different atmospheres. The son's previous bedroom becomes the blackberry wine guest room with perfectly matching blinds, bedspread and lamp.

The girls' room is suddenly reverted to an exercise /sewing room, and what had been a clutter of scattered toys, boxes of playthings and shelves of children's books and puzzles has become a storage room deluxe.

Bemoaning our invasion of the "playroom," our grandkids are somewhat put out that their space looks like a library they're no longer encouraged to "go play" in. Grandma proudly, and almost cockily, declares her private territory. ("Welcome to my world!") My dream room has become a reality! The handsome, oak, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves cover one wall. Thanks, Dave and Pat!

While seeking out proper furniture, I discovered that wicker is trendy and inexpensive. The cushioned, brown wicker chair, bronze floor lamp, new curtains, and an end table and a DVD cabinet retrieved from the spare room brought it all together. Pat had gathered up my books from all over the house and brought them to my "library."

Some current family photos, along with old black and whites of ancestors and special keepsakes, set off rows and stacks of hardcover, some beautifully illustrated, nature books, volumes of poetry, novels, spiritual writings, and journals accumulated throughout the decades.

There, the perfect place revealed itself for personal treasures: Aunt Alma's Bible and a music box that plays "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" (though the family is German), Wollin's stereoscope, Mother's vase, gifted booklets, dream catcher, preserved family documents and local history, and all of our photograph albums. My bonsai tree with the tiny, colored lights, a dried bouquet from last fall, my teddy bears, seashells, and a world globe complete the atmosphere.

The boombox and three storage drawers of abandoned CDs are there to draw out a conglomeration of moods and nostalgia, to instigate both thought and writing. In a prominent place on the wall hangs a colored painting I framed, of the Wollin homestead in perfect scale, done by family friend LeRoy Lundquist. Our backyard trees, stirring with birds and squirrels, make for a serene backdrop through the lone window. I've created several personal alcoves for myself for lapses of retreat. Counted among these havens, outdoor spots play a significant role in contemplative duff time. As we return each May to our camper in Chetek for weekend stays, I revisit many of those secluded sanctuaries. The bench in the woods, lake water sparkling in-between a flutter of leaves and waves of pine, where wildlife deem one invisible, awaits my return, as though it was placed there just for me.

It doesn't seem like seven months ago since I strolled the hardened trail up on Eagle Bluff, to rest at the lookout point, the snaking Root River and a cascade of rich autumn patterns escorting my sight to the valley far below. Who can match Mother Nature when it comes to intriguing design and atmosphere?

Things that clash, poison, and rudely insult the eye are debris and waste we humans deface and pollute the earth with. Mother Nature's continued virtues depend on every man, woman, and child to respect her and to offer a healing touch at every opportunity.

Janet Burns has loved and lived in the heart of Winona County all of her life.

She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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