Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Friday, July 6, 2012

Good Night Moon–Good Morning Little Cobble Court

In search of "Cobble Court," the little house of author Margaret Wise Brown. The house now "lives" in the artistic and exciting Greenwich Village in NYC.

Ahh, here it is. Cobble Court (original cobblestones in courtyard) is a funky, lovable, 200 year old farmhouse that was moved from its Upper Eastside site (where it was scheduled for demolition) to the corner of Greenwich and Charles in Greenwich Village.

Dear Friends,

Sometimes you just need to step back, gather your wings, and think about life. That is what I've been doing (in answer to your wonderful inquiries). I am also finishing my children's historical novel and  preparing for an upcoming appearance in Minnesota and an oncoming book tour. For those of you who live in the Boston area, I will be doing a special bird presentation for children at the Boston Public Library (see upcoming appearances link). Come see me and bring the kids!

My garden flourishes and keeps me busy. I've harvested apricots, nectarines, artichokes, peaches, lemons, limes, citron, Kafir lime, kumquats, tangerines, blueberries, figs, and of course lots of herbs. During my times outdoors, I reflect on life and how I (a country girl at heart) ended up in a real city (albeit a small one). I once commented to Jeff that I couldn't work and live in a city, and he said, "Make your own paradise," which is what I've tried to do.

I love to visit the homes (the Paradises) of authors and artists. Some of my favorite trips have been to Monet's home in Giverney, the apartment of Gertrude Stein in Paris, Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in Missouri, Rudyard Kipling's home, the home of Thomas Hardy, the farm of Beatrix Potter, Willa Cather's home in Red Cloud, and her original home in Virginia, Hemingway's hang-out in the Keys, Carl Larsson's home in Sweden, Audubon's home, Celia Thaxter's island haunt, Sarah Orne Jewett's home, Louisa May Alcott, Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau's homes, and Emily Dickinson's home in Amherst, Mass. Oh, to stand at her desk and gaze out the wavy glass of her window, the exact view she studied for years. The list of author-artist homes is endless, but I especially loved finally finding the little house so beloved by one of my favorite authors, Margaret Wise Brown.

Jeff and I had a celebratory luncheon in NYC with my beloved editor Ruth and Peter Workman, founder of my favorite publishing firm Workman Publishing. After lunch, Jeff and I set off in search of the home of Margaret Wise Brown, author of more than 100 books for children, probably most famously the author of Good Night Moon and The Runaway Bunny, (but The Little Island and some of her others rank near the top for me).

Imagine living on the Upper East Side of NYC in a tiny, picturesque, funky, 200 year old farmhouse on a cobblestone courtyard. Huge buildings loomed above the farmhouse, and the din of traffic and commerce swirled around it twenty-four hours a day. How could anyone stand to live there in the midst of the congestion, noise, and passersby? Luckily, one special lady not only lived there, but also found the peace and stimulation to create a host of some of the world's most cherished books.

I had just finished reading Awakened by the Moon, a bio of Margaret Wise Brown, and told Jeff that I couldn't leave NYC without finding Margaret's "Cobble Court." It had been scheduled for demolition, but was saved by a caring couple who purchased the little building and moved it (and all the cobblestones) to the corner of Charles and Greenwich in the Village. Thank goodness and thank them.

Big buildings still loom over Margaret's little "Cobble Court"

The owners erected a wide iron gate so that "passersby would not have to crowd into a small space." Very kind and much appreciated.

I am in Heaven

Let me in, let me in. A pitiful plea.

Lucky for me, the authorities were not alerted that a crazy woman was lurking outside the little farmhouse. 

So, what is the point of this ramble about author's homes? I suppose the point is that Jeff is right. "Make your own Paradise." Wherever you live, you can create your own world– you can write, draw, make music, throw pots, garden (even if it is in a coffee can). You can be YOU, and you are one-of-a-kind, just like Margaret Wise Brown.

"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."

Agnes De Mille

Joys to you all and remember to make your own Paradise,



Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Dear Sharon, Thanks for reminding me to be less critical and enjoy our Paradise. The heat must be getting to me! I picked raspberries for 2 hours this morning and made jam this afternoon! It has been a wonderful early crop, 40 jars of jam and more to come with the second crop! Definitely Christmas presents coming! xxoo Nancy

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hahaha...this is just the perfect story! during the years of my traveling, i would lean over fences and photograph elements of places i loved. when i finally built my paradise in the city, i had to enclose the entire property in gates with locks because of people showing up to have a walk about the property uninvited. Karma!

Claudia said...

What a beautiful post, Sharon. Such a great reminder to all of us that Paradise can be made wherever we are.

I'm in Manhattan fairly frequently and had no idea that Cobblestone Court was in the Village! I'll be sure to look for it next time I'm in town.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quote. Good to now that all my not being sure was a positive living sign! Have a lovely day, milady! xo thea

Susan said...

I love that! And, how true when I think about how I've lived all over the US. I'm a country girl too and it's taken me longer to find my niche here in the Pacific Northwest for gardening, but it's coming along. Wish I was there to go to a reading--can't wait until your book is out. Love you, XOXO

trump said...

Nice post folks, and I think I've found my own paradise right here in Pennsylvania. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon,pa

Anonymous said...

Great post! MWB's house should be a museum... or a library! with all her books. Wouldn't that be great?
Your post reminds me of visiting Beatrix Potter's house in England. Lovely, and you could just see Peter Rabbit hopping in the garden. Well, I could, anyway.

Kay G. said...

Dear Sharon,
What a wonderful post! I love you wistfully looking over the gate.
We have done our best for our little paradise: we garden in pots and feed the birds in plastic trays but all who visit are very welcome.
Hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

It is lovely to find a new post by you on my Google Reader! I am suppose to be starting dinner but I had to visit instead. :)

When my husband had to go on Disability, we moved back to my hometown and finally here to our home in the country. I can feel myself relax as I turn off the highway and head further into the country.

However, God led us to live in Detroit at one time and I DREADED the move. I thought I'd cry every day I lived in one of the largest cities in the USA.

Instead, we did make it our own little paradise. Hubby had to travel a lot but Christopher and I found all kinds of wonderful places to visit within walking distance.

I don't know that I would have wanted to live there forever (because I do like being back to my hometown) but I learned the very same lesson you did! Such fond memories from that time of this country girl living in the City!

Hugs to you, I think of you often as I garden and send out a prayer.

Lorrie said...

As I read your post I thought that visiting author's homes would be a fantastic idea for a vacation. Copies of favourite books would have to be included in the luggage and read "on site."
How true that we must each make our own bit of Paradise wherever we are found, in order to be content. I've lived in South America, the USA and Canada and in each place, creating a home full of peace and comfort has been my challenge.

Enjoy all your busy days.

Kay's flowers said...

I'm so happy to see you back! I've missed you.
That is such a wonderful place to go and see in the midst of all the busyness of NYC. I would also be the one trying to get in.
You must be on your way to Maine. I hope you have a relaxing and restful time.

Many blessings,

Julie Marie said...

Hello cousin Sharon... what a lovely post!... my goodness, you have visited alot of beautiful homes!... and I love the saying "make your own Paradise"... I truly believe anyone can make that happen... a positive attitude and frame of mind certainly can make it so!... thank you for sharing these wonderful photos... good luck on your book and have fun at your bird presentation, wish I could be there!... much love, xoxo Julie Marie

Sonia said...

I too love the phrase "make your own Paradise"...reminds me of Bloom where you are planted!
I am retiring from nursing and look forward to making my own paradise in the months ahead. Kind of a scary step. Love your travels to the city and that sweet little farmhouse in the midst of the tall concrete building. Hope your book tour brings you to the Midwest!
Miss Bloomers

Pondside said...

This post seems to have touched a chord with many - and I'll include myself. We live in our own paradise here, but it is time that we are thinking of creating a new one - and that's hard. Thank you for timely little reminder that I can do it.

Anonymous said...

It was lovely to see a post from you today Sharon. As I've gotten older I've certainly learned to make my own Paradise--Much easier now to find peace. I loved seeing the Cobble Court cottage--had no idea of its journey.
Martha Ellen

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Sharon you were in my stomping ground in New York City! I was unaware that Margaret Wise Brown's "Cobble Court" was located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood and now I am determined to visit it in the near future. I find the energy of the city inspiring, and I'm sure Margaret did too! Her "Good Night Moon" book was one of my children's favorite books and is now my two grandson's favorite. She truly lives on in many hearts.

Bonnie K said...

I invite you to our paradise. If you find yourself near the Black Hills I would be happy to show you our little cabin in the woods. It is heaven for us. Still you don't need to be in the woods. Our home in Lead was open to people looking in. I actually took joy in watching children leaning over the rail to see the flowers. Home is where the heart is. Still that little house surrounded by towering buildings does seem a bit unnerving.

Pat said...

A wonderful post & such a gentle reminder to each of us. I so often dream of more travel - England, Wales, back to Australia, Nova Scotia - my list is long...thinking that each of those places is a paradise of undiscovered delights. And then - as I return home even after a few hours of errands, coming over the hill and seeing our house and surrounding acres - that is paradise & I am blessed.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

I just love reading all your comments about your own personal paradises. They touch my heart.

Do you talk to your house? I do. I greet it and tell it that I love it. Can't help myself. Used to do that to my old store Heart's Ease too. Would walk in in the morning and say, "good morning, how are you today."

Love to all,


queen of the castle said...

This post reminds me of Virginia Lee Burton's "The Little House". I wonder if Burton's house is available for tourists? Another wonderful author/illustrator!

Two years ago when you were in Minnesota at Lands' End I wanted to come out to see you, but had just had my 5th baby. I'm not sure I can get down to the Arboretum in August, but do keep your devoted readers informed of your upcoming appearances!

suzanne said...

Dear Sharon

How I would just love to visit these homes you have walked through. How wonderful to touch the past. I totally understand your need to visit them. To have ones own little space here in this world to make a home...lucky are we. Sharon I can't wait to purchase your new book. So exciting to place it amoungst your others in my library. Roll on October~!

Lots of love to you Sharon

Vee said...

That little farmhouse in that location is whimsical beyond belief. It sounds like material for a children's story to me.

You look so cute hanging out there by the fence. I'm sure you would have been let right in if they had only know 'twas you!

Larkrise garden girl said...

Oh Sharon, Your a wise soul and so is your hubby.Traveling is so fun I had such a wonderful time in Port ludlow three months ago. On this hot day I can close my eyes and think of whale watching,Trying to find beach glass,riding on a ferry to Bainbridge Island.I bet you close your eyes every day and your in so many wonderful Places,Life is Good. Hugs Cheri

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Beautifully said. I've visited both of Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in Mansfield, MO. What an interesting place she had! I love Margaret Wise Brown's The Two Little Gardeners. I found it in an antique shop and was thrilled when it was by her. Love the illustrations too by Gertrude Elliot. I thought of you all week as I finished up a project. I'm so glad to be finished. Ready to work on others things. Sharon, I read all the things you're doing, and I think, what an exciting life. Love, Dee

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Dee,

I also love Two Little Gardeners, which I found in a junk store! I let out a whoop when I opened it. I ADORE those simple, but effective illustrations too. So evocative and playful.

Happy day!


Teri said...

This is just the most wonderful post Sharon! I thought when I first saw it posted that you were going to be posting from Maine but I am happy to read that you were able to do another search for one of your favorite writers. I would love to see Celia Thaxter's place. Have you ever done a post of that that I could read here? I have a book that describes her place and it has always intrigued me. The beautiful flowers she grew. She reminds me of you! And how I love the theme of this: Make your own paradise!!! How perfect! Instead of always looking outside for satisfaction or that "something" else...just make it right where you are!! You have really inspired me with this post. Thank you so much!! I'm going to pass it on.

Betty said...

Such a lovely post Sharon. I love the idea of a little touch of the countryside in a large city.
Sounds like you have been enjoying a wonderful harvest from your own lovely Paradise.
Happy days to you and your husband.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hahaha...because i don't eat much at all of what i make!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Thanks so much to all of you who have sent offers of lodging and garden tours, but this time we are flying, rather than driving to Maine. Too many time constraints and too many things on our plates right now. Maybe next year if we drive???

All joys to you,


Sharon Lovejoy said...


Where do you get such will power????


Nan said...

Gosh, this is such a wonderful posting. Loved seeing her home. So happy it was saved. I've been to a few English homes of writers like Hardy and Carlyle, but I've never been to the relatively closely ones in Concord, Massachusetts. I really should.

kj said...

Do I talk to my house? I certainly do, often before I try to explain myself to my wastebasket and laundry basket. I talk more alone than with people :-)

Did I hear you say Maine? Or no Maine? And boston in the fall. Hmmmm.

That saying, 'home is where the heart is'-- I understand it now. A person who is willing to have a garden in a coffee cup knows something important about how to live

I am blessed to have some people like that in my life: thank you thank you for being a most special one


Diane said...

What an interesting post. I have not read any of her books but I will be on the look out for them now. I am so pleased that there is someone out there who cares and that her home was saved.

I have to agree that you must make the best out of what is around you and enjoy life to the full. We are lucky now in rural France, life is pretty much perfect :) Take care Diane

AnaGF said...

Dear Sharon,
I don't know what I love most: your posts where you take us on a tour around your gardens or these posts where you take us touring with you around the country... And funny this one is about NYC, for I've been thinking about asking your opinion about something to do with this city. Talk about coincidences! I'll be e-mailing you in a day or too but don't feel the pressure to answer quickly, I know how busy you are and it is nothing urgent.

Alyssa said...

Let me in...Let me in...Let me in... - that was pretty classic dear, Sharon. I really love this post and your passion. Take care. :D

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INDIAN said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sharon Lovejoy said...

And that blog "administrator" (doesn't that sound impressive) would be ME or Jeff. Honestly, I am getting about four or five spams a day since Vee prodded (suggested) that I remove my filters. What a pain.

Get a life spammers. You won't make it here!


sarah-jane down the lane said...

A very good morning to you Sharon from a rain lashed blighty. First of all you are most welcome to enter my Farmhouse any time ~ no standing at the drive and peering in, simply walk up and knock, tea will be on tap!

I must look into Margaret Wise Brown, I am quite an aficionado of children's writing as you know and she is new to me, so thank you.

I am super envious of your amazing harvest...oh the very idea of harvesting lemons...I am however overrun with hydrangeas, a great consolation!

Have a wonderful weekend in that paradise of yours,

Sarah -x-

Vicki Boster said...

Sharon- you are an inspiration to us all! I'm in awe of your magnificent list of artist homes that you have visited. Aren't you just SO blessed?!!

I love and admire your attitude toward life-- that attitude is one that I try to live by as well- and I know that there have been many occasions when it has helped me to deal with frustration and heart ache. I've learned to NOT sweat the small stuff and most importantly I am always remembering that true happiness starts with me- inside my soul!

Your garden bounty sounds so wonderful--

I'd love to be in Bosten for your talk--

Lydia said...

Love the jacket- perfect for wearing in Paradise!

Marlynne said...

So thrilled to run across you again! It was after receiving your Sunflower Houses book as a gift that we just happened on your precious little shop "Heartsease" in Cambria, Ca. while crossing the country in our trailer. My heart was so full with all your little twists and turns of treasures! I was so sad to find you had sold the shop several years later! I am a folk artist and fellow flower gardener (although this year the drought is so bad it's hard to keep much blooming healthfully!) Love your pictures and story of Margaret Wise Brown's tiny farm house. Going to check out her chldrens books from the Library. I've thought I would love to travel around the country and paint little house I find and tell the stories I could find out about them for a book. At 75+ yrs. it proably won't happen, but doesn't keep me from think about it! Want to join your Grimy Hands Girls Club if I can get all the right buttons clicked! Love and Best Wishes to you, My Long Lost and now found Friend! Would love for you to come visit my art blog if you have a minute.

Marlynne said...

Well I can't make it work to get your picture on my blog for dirty hands club please wave your magic wand my direction ang make it happen!

Anonymous said...

LOVE the closing quote, and could not agree more. Knowledge spoils delight.

Found your place past Erin's place at My Painted Garden. Could not resist emailing regarding your Grimy Hands Girls' Club.

Much love,

Carol said...

Dear Sharon,

I have not visited in awhile and so enjoy strolling through your creative and inspiring postings. Thank you for this quote:

"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."

Agnes De Mille

It is a way of life . . . exciting and ever challenging.

I so admire your creative life!
Congratulations on your novel!!
I do hope you were not visiting Emily's house in Amherst recently?? I live only one half hour away and her world is a favorite of mine.
Touching story about your grandmother.
A joy to visit you.