We put away the Christmas items the weekend following Epiphany, by which time I'm in the mood for something with a completely different feel. Something light, and yellow, and uncluttered. At the center of the new buffet vignette stands Julia, resplendent as always in her yellow dress.
Yellow is one of Pantone's new colors of the year for 2021; the other is gray. (Or, that is, "Illuminating," and "Ultimate Gray.") But for me, yellow is always the color of the month for January.
Yellow was my mother's favorite color, and her birthday was January 29. I would search for a yellow primula to give her, but often had to settle for a kalanchoe instead. I gave her a couple of yellow mugs over the years, too, which came into my possession after she died in 2015. One holds pens on my desk and serves as a pleasant functional memento. Mom would have turned 92 this month.
Julia, the yellow clad figurine and the human she represents, dwelt in this house before us. Julia was the owner of the house and died a year or so before we bought it in 2010, having reached the age of 90-something. According to our neighbors, she was active right up until the day of her death, which occurred quietly at home, here in this house.
She lived independently for many years after her husband, Harry, died. She had a lush flower garden and a gentleman companion. She enjoyed a warm and friendly relationship with our neighbor Bonnie, who tended Julia's garden the summer after her death, and later helped me identify some of the flowers Julia had bequeathed to us.
We first looked at the house (the exterior, that is) in spring when an abundance of yellow daffodils were blooming all around the backyard. We took a tour inside on Mother's Day—our Realtor, who was young enough to be my son, and whose father had been our Realtor when we bought our first house, gave me a hug and wished me a happy Mother's Day.
The 1920s bungalow is so characteristic of the Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis that the term Longfellow bungalow is quite common around here. We have long been attracted to this style of house, and this one is a fine example of the style, without being too precious or elaborate.
And it has a built-in buffet! A buffet offers such a perfect display area, a sort of playground for creating seasonal vignettes. I had wanted one since we bought our first house in 1987, but hadn't managed it until now.
A couple of weeks before we were set to close on the house, Julia's heirs had an estate sale to clear out the myriad possessions that they had crammed into the garage for ease of showing the place. We went and introduced ourselves, and selected a few small items to buy as a kind of bridge connecting us to the house's previous inhabitants.
Porcelain figurines of ladies in fancy dresses are not usually my sort of thing, but I thought one of them would be a fitting avatar of the previous owner and her taste in decor. I chose the one with a yellow dress, perhaps thinking of the daffodils I had admired a month earlier, or of my mother's favorite color. The family said that this one did indeed look like Julia. Of course she does. And here she stays.