Companions for a Long Winter

My husband is off in India right now, doing Something Important. I am, in the meantime, keeping the home fires burning. Literally, at times, as there is no one else to build the fire that keeps us warm on the coldest of New England days. Unless I want to entrust the task to my 5 and 2-year-old sons. Not that they wouldn’t be thrilled to try, but in the interest of (all of us) continuing to live I keep them away from open flames.

Just in time for long, dark evenings by the fire and these weeks without companionship, I organized my magazine collection. A collection that is actually a sort of in memorium, as most of the magazines I possess are copies of publications that have disappeared into the ether, a reminder of the glory days of printed matter, when human beings actually liked their reading to involve a bit of manual labor, the thumb and the forefinger doing the work of the ages, turning page after lovely page. Victoria, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion (what, you say? yes, it was a charming little magazine), Domino (sob), Blueprint, and — oh the tragedy of it! — House & Garden, which I still can’t believe is gone and would have collected every single issue if I had any inkling that such a monolith could topple. I also save Elle Decor, the occasional Country Living, and House Beautiful. And I would collect and hoard more esoteric titles if budget and space allowed. Particularly World of Interiors, as perfect a magazine as it is possible to create. Maybe WOI should have a scholarship program for enthusiastic Americans?

The best thing about the best magazines is that they are both of the moment — the exact chronological moment in which they were published — and timeless. The reader can pick up a great issue of Vogue, say, from the Diana Vreeland years and glean tons of still-relevant if intimidating information on a life of style. This strange mix of trendy and timeless is what makes magazines, specifically, so compelling, and gives them status apart from publications with a longer gestation period. Like, for instance, that other threatened species, those unwieldy things called books.

Magazines are dead, long live magazines.

Diana V, still reigning after all these years...

magazine storage ideas

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8 thoughts on “Companions for a Long Winter

  1. Perfect weather for the indoor organizational tasks. I started to tackle my Gourmets in the basement, and the entire messy basement in fact, last week when my husband was in India. (We’re leading parallel lives.) Love this love letter to old print.

    • We ARE leading parallel lives, as the magazines were just the beginning of trying to organize the entire messy basement, just like yourself. And this post was a love letter to print, though I hadn’t thought of phrasing it that way. Oh printed matter. *sigh*

  2. Great (and creative :) minds think alike…. yesterday I managed to part with a stack of coffee table books collected through the years. Clutter clearance is my winter project …but I’m starting to develop “separation anxiety”. Always difficult “letting go” . Good luck!

    • Oh wow Colleen, I’m glad I didn’t know you were willing to part with coffee table books as I might have shown up at your house with an empty box. I think your cast-offs might rate as premier reading in my house. The hard part about getting rid of print materials is that first you have to page through them to make sure you really, really want to get rid of them and the next you know it’s several hours later, etc. etc…so wishing me Good Luck is appropriate. And the same to you!

  3. SIGH…..if only I had a fireplace……seems like the cozy thing to do while the cold wind whips outdoors…….
    I have kept all of my sketchbooks over the yrs….& cannot seem to part with one….they keep multiplying….
    so I have to keep my reading material to the minimum….
    or at least I try! Tomorrow I am picking up my yearly brand new sketchbook–so I will try to choose 1 magazine to recycle to take its’ place…….I however, cannot muster the energy to tackle my basement……..good luck!! ;)

    • KT! Don’t equate your sketchbooks with magazines, no matter how great the magazine is. An entirely different matter. And forget about your basement – the winter is also a good time to catch up on Bravo TV. (Oh Million Dollar Decorators – where are you?)

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