Sycamore Lane

My imagination has been inventing another setting, for which I have no particular characters or plots. I’ll throw it out there in case you enjoy it. Of course I have a Pinboard started–I call it Sycamore Lane.

sycamorelane

Sycamore Lane is a country road that stretches between two rural communities. The trees grow right up to the edge of it. There are a few fields that have been cleared along the way to graze horses and cows, and a dotting of little farmhouses. Some are white clapboard and some are cinder block, and they mostly have flower gardens out front and chickens wandering round.

Sycamore Lane is a severely female place. There aren’t many men around and the ones who are there behave themselves. Sycamore Lane is a bastion of good housekeeping. Being somebody will make you important there, but so will a well-kept garden, clean floors (even the corners), ironed bedsheets, polished silver, and blocked lace on your hankie. There are a lot of widows and spinsters here as well as a few flighty young wards. Marilla Cuthbert would like it here. So would the ladies from Cranford. Tasha Tudor would probably be on the outs. Jane Eyre is Sycamore Lane’s idea of a really juicy romance.

Sycamore Lane is feminine but not sweet; it prefers blue to pink, cream to white, brown to green, and shuns excess ornamentation. Embroidered monograms are honorable, embroidered flowers are frippery. The ladies especially like plant and bird motifs–and Audubon prints are the high-holy of household art here with English landscapes coming in a close second. Sycamore Lane is well kept, not shabby chic. There is no peeling paint or disintegrating lace. The aesthetic wanders in a slightly Colonial, slightly Primitivist direction.

Basically, Sycamore Lane is a good place for any 18th or 19th century novel to have taken place (except that it would also fit right here in central Illinois). Anne of Green Gables could have happened there. While it is fussy and rigid I don’t intend it to be so in a bad way. The ladies are the way they are because they can be, because they are comfortable, because they are past the part of life that worries about marriage and babies. In a way it’s not only a feminine but a feminist place, because it isn’t about how the ladies look or who they can attract or serve, but about what they do for themselves, and what they do is varied and hands-on work with immediate and personal gratification.

Do with it what you will. Enjoy!

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