Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bath with a Bovine View

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bath with a Bovine View

Article excerpt

The claw-foot tub looks out on the cow yard and barn.

Our bungalow-style farmhouse is replete with creature comforts - in the summer they include the easy chairs below the ceiling fan and in the winter, those same old chairs angled toward the wood stove. A daybed invites some afternoon downtime, and a southwestern corner of the kitchen often quietly beckons, its sun- or moonlit ambience filtering in through two long windows.

We regularly haunt the nook with its built-in bookshelves, and daily trek through the mudroom - which ushers us out to morning chores and welcomes us back from walks. But perhaps the "space supreme" in terms of sheer appreciation is the red claw-foot tub in the slate-tiled bathroom.

Charlie installed it almost three decades ago when he bought the farm and restored the neglected and heavily partitioned house to open, airy, Shaker-style splendor. He put in new floors and added wall pegs, trim, and frames for some long wavy-glassed windows he'd salvaged, painting the wood in quiet Shaker hues - brethren blue and Salem burgundy.

Somewhere in the process he found and installed the white-- enameled tub with its four-clawed pedestal feet - and painted its outer surface a brilliant scarlet. He claims the dazzling red was all he had on hand at the time, but his departure from the more muted Shaker motif elsewhere also answered his need to add a splash of flamboyance to the old place.

In keeping with that impulse he installed a picture window of beveled glass in the wall abutting the tub, providing a view from its sudsy warmth to the barn and cow yard. If the cows choose to gaze back on a cold winter's day, we don't mind - in fact, their stoic acceptance of bovinity's place in the scheme of things seems to heighten the pleasures of bathing.

The other day, I watched as my visiting 4-year-old grandson, chest-high in bubbles, played in the tub with a sieve, measuring cup, spoon, small bucket, and sponge. In the process of creating makeshift waterworks and mountains of foam, he inadvertently washed away the gritty film from the graveled drive where earlier he'd been pushing a metal dump truck amid clouds of drought-induced dust. …

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