She has been so kind as to write up her thoughts and impressions so that we too may stroll along with her as she gets a peek inside Tasha’s world…..
I can’t remember a time when Tasha Tudor was not a part of my life. She seems to just have always been there, sitting on my bookshelves waiting for me to pick her up on a regular basis and read her stories, look at her illustrations, and learn about her lifestyle.
In the late 80’s, when I went away to college in Vermont, I knew Tasha lived somewhere not too far away, but I never really knew exactly where. This was many years ago, before Google!
I would drive the back roads of Vermont, just certain that I would stumble across her home; I’d knock on the door, she’d let me in and, recognizing a kindred spirit, we’d become fast friends.
I was always fascinated by the life that Tasha led and the way she lived it on her own terms, in the manner she chose. I read anything I could get my hands on about Tasha.
I remember the joy of getting The Private World of Tasha Tudor and being able to pour over the photos of her home and life. I still have that original copy that I bought over 20 years ago. I always hoped to have the opportunity to see her home, but never really thought I’d be able to.
Heather and I have spoken about Tasha many times since we’ve become friends- it was nice to finally have someone to share my love of Tasha Tudor with! Last October we were able to go to the Tasha Tudor Museum together, and since that time we’ve had a lot of conversations about going on the house and garden tour together (for some reason this always involved the two of us in prairie outfits hanging out of a tree with binoculars- I guess we never thought we’d actually be able to go properly!)
Through a series of serendipitous events, spurred on by Heather, I recently had the good fortune of being included in a private tour of Tasha’s home and gardens with a wonderful group of people who also share our love and interest in all that was and is Tasha Tudor.
I was very nervous before going. I kept viewing it as “before Tasha” and “after Tasha”, certain that I would never be the same again after having seen for myself where Tasha had created her world. I am also a very shy introvert, so just the thought of meeting a group of other people, including Tasha’s own family, brought on a bundle of nerves.
But I could not have had a better experience. The group that I met up with were kind, interesting, and welcoming people. Tasha’s family were very welcoming to us all.
I also realized as I arrived that I would never have found Tasha’s home all those years ago! It is truly off the beaten path and you feel like you are arriving in another world; indeed a quieter, kinder, gentler world.
We were separated into two groups, and my group was led by Tasha’s son, Seth. He was very down to Earth with a great sense of humor! He made us all chuckle several times with some of his stories about life with Tasha.
Walking into Tasha’s home was surreal. It is not a museum; it is most definitely a home that was well lived in and loved. They do ask you not to touch anything, as everything was left exactly how Tasha left it.
There are pencil, chalk, and ink drawings on the walls that Tasha did herself. Seth told us how she always had the habit of writing down the dates of her dogs, goats, and chickens births and deaths on the kitchen walls. She also wrote quotes, phone numbers, and notes to herself on the walls and doorways. There were dates of the first and last snowfalls, quotes that were meaningful to her, and even a small notation about the death of her brother, which Seth had only himself noticed that week.
I found it very charming that written on a door in black marker was the notice “Very Important Don’t Open this Door- chicken.”
Tasha’s home was homey, cluttered , cozy- the type of home you want to curl up in with a cup of tea and a good book.
LaVonne, one of the women on the tour, had given us all notebooks when we arrived and I filled nearly every single page with notes about my impressions of each room of her home as well as the barns and garden. I had written on the first page “very dark, chilly but every room has a fireplace…cluttered with china and candles and lots and lots of books….”
I keep rereading this description I wrote and I realized that, for me, it is absolutely the description of the perfect home. Every room had books, pretty floral china, lots of candles and all manner of candle holders. As you can imagine, the entire home is old fashioned and filled with antiques and old things. I spent quite a long time in her bedroom, where I felt I had to write down every single book on the shelf. I had to know what books Tasha kept close to her in her bedroom.
Whereas most of the other books scattered about the house were a mixture of literature, flower books, herb books, gardening books, and books about New England, in Tasha’s bedroom they were all literature save for a well-worn copy of the Bible. Her bedroom books included titles by Jane Austen, George Eliot, William Thackeray, Washington Irving, and Louisa May Alcott.
I was absolutely thrilled that she had what appeared to be an original copy of Irving’s Old Christmas, one of my all-time favorites to read during the holiday season. It made my heart happy that a woman I so admired had similar taste in literature as I have.
Just outside of Tasha’s bedroom is her dollhouse. It is a three story high, “L” shaped glass fronted cabinet style house. The kitchen was at the top floor, the living room was in the middle, and the bedroom was at the bottom.
It was a wonderful sight to see, with its tiny versions of real life items. I’m a big fan of Tasha’s Sparrow Post, so I was delighted to see several small letters on a desk in the dollhouse.
In Tasha’s library was a small clay nude sculpture. Seth told us that Tasha always said it was of her, that she had unwillingly posed at the age of 16 for an artist friend of her mother’s.
In what was referred to as the winter kitchen was a large loom that still has the orange cloth on it that was the last weaving project Tasha worked on before her death. In this room is also the famous painting of her brother, Frederic, painted by their mother, Rosamond Tudor.
I will admit that I was more excited to see the painting of Frederic in Tasha Tudor’s home then I was when I saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre!
Walking down the long hallway to the barn that was attached to the house, we were able to see where Tasha milked her goats and where she kept her doves. The canoe she has been pictured in on the pond was hanging from the ceiling.
We all got a bit of a smile out of seeing a dead mouse in one of the large barrels- mainly because as any Tasha Tudor fan will know, Tasha would have scooped that mouse out of the barrel and posed and painted him!
Seeing her home was so overwhelming that I was genuinely shocked when we were led outside and informed that Winslow would be taking over to do the garden tour. I had absolutely forgotten there was more to come!
Spring came late to Vermont this year. There wasn’t an abundance of flowers out yet, but there were tons of forget me not’s and violets scattered throughout the entire property. I never realized how wonderful those flowers truly are until I saw them in that setting, in that abundance.
We were shown the pond and the vegetable garden, the redone pinks garden and the peony garden that Winslow is currently restoring. We were shown the greenhouse with its gorgeous large pots of roses and the bay tree and the secret garden, full of forget me not’s.
As someone who is only now just learning to garden simple and basic flowers, it was truly awe inspiring. It definitely made me want to go home and reconfigure my own garden areas!
All too soon it was time to leave the property and head back century. We were given lemonade, fruit, and cookies after the tour but I’m afraid my to the 21stbrain was so full of trying to remember every single detail, I’m not sure I really took in much after getting back to the Rookery!
There is no photography allowed, in fact they ask you to leave your cell phones in your car, so I have no photos of the day to share.
After being on the tour and seeing her home, I am absolutely grateful that this is the rule. I think having people snapping away would disturb the magic of the place and I heartily agree with leaving the cameras behind. I was truly overwhelmed by the wonderfulness that is Tasha Tudor’s home. If you ever have the opportunity to take the tour, I highly recommend it.
Thank you SO much for sharing all this with us, Patricia! I am so thrilled for you that you got to make this dream come true! And I hope some day you and I can go together!
Til Next Tasha Tuesday!~…… ~H