It is always with a humble heart that I write my newsletter to you because I feel so astonishingly grateful for my good fortune. I love living in our charming seaside village on the mouth of the harbor, in our dear old cottage that has character and quirks that no architect would have built. Living in a house built by church carpenters in 1775 for a Baptist minister, John Rathbone, adds a depth of meaning to our American history and magnifies the pleasure I feel, fully appreciating the various spaces Peter and I have found useful and aesthetically pleasing since 1988 when we took on the project of renovating a former multi-dwelling rooming house that was in a sorry state of neglect.
Without any fanfare or formality I decided to take a sabbatical, where I would have a time out, press the pause button on my intended work, and empty myself of all self-imposed schedules and goals, and take time to re-think what is now in my best interest and what will being me the greatest fulfillment and pleasure in the immediate future. I realize how fortunate I am to be in a position to have the luxury of intelligently thought-provoking leisure time, and I’m also keenly aware of how invaluably my time has been spent.
All my striving and yearning, my quest to understand and to try to determine what some of the answers are to the questions of how I can best live my life in the present circumstances, and how I can best contribute to attempting to leave a positive impact on the world when I come to the end of my lifespan. I realize that most of the questions I’m asking myself are as old as time recorded, and the questioning I do that doesn’t have any easy answers is the most stimulating and challenging because I’ve made this commitment of time to reflect, re-think, and in many various ways, concentrate on my feelings and emotions rather than my intellect and clarity of reason. I’m more swamped by my mind, my spirit, and my sense of what I’m drawn to do, what actions I take to change and improve my environment and what focus and direction I choose to take in the work that will being me the greatest contentment and happiness.
I began this journey taking out books from the library. I wandered around the different stacks and discovered that Peter’s book “Figure It Out: A Guide to Wisdom” was next to several of my own books. And, in turn, our books shared a shelf with some of the philosophy and psychology books I’ve read. I’m nostalgic about the past, what Peter and I shared, and the rich legacy he has passed on through his writing as well as his practical wisdom and enthusiastic love of life and love of us. Few people have left such a path for us to gladly embark on in order to be continuously engaged, and I find Aristotle to be right when he assured us that it is through contemplations that we find our greatest qualities of happiness and aesthetic refinement.
The entire month of May has been an evolving gift and one of quiet fulfillment and enjoyment. I appreciated an abundance of small pleasures, and when added up, one after another, I felt an elevated state of conscious awareness of how significantly important it is to be surrounded, indeed enveloped, inside nature. We don’t merely look upon the beauty of Springtime’s sparkling light, blossoms and fragrances, we are nature, and when looked at with all our senses and a sense of awe and wonder, we grow in love as we mindfully see and feel the veil of the drab darkness of winder transformed into this season of re-birth and new beginnings.
The entire Mother’s Day weekend was joyful, starting Friday when I took a train to Southport, Connecticut where I was picked up at the train by staff from the Delamar Inn where I spent the night, arriving in time to meet my friend Claire for a long, relaxed, elegant and most delicious lunch at their restaurant Artisan. I ended up having dinner at Terrain because Nancy, the event-coordinator, couldn’t come to Artisan because she had to work. I met and visited with lots of the team of talented people who love their work environment, having a feast of several artichoke specialties and some treats of bread fresh from the oven and a chocolate mouse I was treated to. Before Nancy drove me back to Delamar, I picked up a blue hydrangea and a clear polka dot designer cache pot to enjoy in my room at the inn, and give to Brooke for her room at the cottage on Mother’s Day. Timing is everything. My whole stay at the Delamar was pure delight and I intend to go back again for a mini regional vacation.
Tony, Brooke, and Cooper picked me up at Terrain in Westport after a gloriously fun day in this favorite store, where I had my event in the morning and a book signing in the afternoon. I saw lots of friends and met many interesting people who were also basking in the happiness of such a great atmosphere. Saturday night was the Kentucky Derby, and the restaurant on the shoreline where Tony had planned for us to see the horse race on our way home didn’t work out, but he remembered a friends restaurant in Groton – Olio – and we arrived just minutes before the race started. I was rooting for Nyquist, a two-year-old colt who has won seven of seven races. Cooper asked me who was the fastest horse and we both were winners. Dinner was great fun and we were all so excited the evening worked out.
“Sift”, a new bakery, opened up the Wednesday before Mother’s Day in Mystic, and there were over 2,000 eager customers who came to appreciate the experience. Tony and Brooke went early in the morning to select some goodies for our breakfast in the dining room, and we knew this opening would be a favorite sweet shop for our family this summer.
May 18th, I celebrated Peter’s and my 42nd wedding anniversary. I enjoyed looking back at wedding pictures, remembering flying to Paris on our honeymoon after the wedding reception and introducing Peter to the city that would become our favorite, most romantic, magnificent city in the world. Friends came over for drinks before going out for dinner, and when they rounded the corner entering the kitchen they were greeted by a lilac garden. A friend who has dozens of lilac trees “pruned” dozens of branches of lilac – deep purple and, my favorite, white. I also had some purple sweet pea, lilac and white freesia, and the flower I carried in my wedding bouquet with Alexandra and Brooke, Lily-of-the-Valley.
Another fun adventure was going to Trinity Rectory Company to see Roger’s & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma. Before heading to Providence, we walked through a friend’s enchanted secret garden that is experiencing her “blue period.” The houses are cheek to jowl in the village, and experiencing such a large English garden with a smaller garden with walking paths and singing birds was a sensual treat. There is paradise on earth, right in one friend’s backyard.
Oklahoma was delightful—the singing, dancing and acting, I found it thoroughly uplifting and entertaining. I must have seen it on Broadway when I was six or seven, and I remember the excitement of going with my parents and siblings.
Again, we had a horse race that evening—the Preakness, the second of three races for Nyquist to compete for the Triple Crown. We ended up going to Bo’s, a Billiard hall, where we were well taken care of. There were dozens of television sets on all the walls, and we had a great view of the race, where the horses had to run in the wet rainy ring, where Nyquist came in third. It was a thrilling race, no one got hurt, and all of us had a horse that won or placed. We ate fried pickles and fried sweet potato fries, laughed at being in a billiard hall and having so much fun. The restaurant where we’d planned to go would not have brought us the same view of the race. There were four graduations in Providence that evening and we were wise to get out of Dodge.
When we bought our cottage in 1988 it was the white lilac tree that glistened in the sunlight after a thunderstorm after Alexandra’s graduation from Connecticut College that won my heart. I joke and say I didn’t buy an old house; we bought an old white lilac tree. The fact that “lilac time” converges with our anniversary every May, and the Lily-of-the-Valley bloom on our garden outside the kitchen window faithfully every Spring, is another symbol of the miraculous generous gifts of nature. I can also see my neighbor and friend Charles’ purple lilac from the kitchen window and enjoy having their blooming branches bow down over the garden loveseat as I sit looking out at the boats moving about the harbor.
Paradise is here, and while it can often be wherever you are, because of the blooming of our gardens this time of year, being home to observe all the transformations is inspiring. Our deep purple iris is popping right now, and the peonies are about to burst. The roses are budding and the hot pink geraniums are in the window boxes. Tony, Brooke and Cooper came for Memorial Day weekend to soak in the beginning of the summer season in our seaside village, an ideal place to celebrate with family and friends the simple pleasured of leisurely activities out-of-doors. I watched the moon become full and pink, shining brightly on the harbor at four o’clock in the morning. If we had a telescope strong enough, we could have seen Mars. As we all know, the essentiality of everything is invisible to the eye.
I’m giving a talk, “Celebrate Gratitude: Find Joy in More Places” in June. I embrace this most wonderful time of year. Cooper and I spend timeless hours in our secret, enchanted, fairy garden. I’ve moved the eight gardenia plants out-of-doors in hopes they’ll burst into exuberance. I bought one with five blossoms and seven buds at Trader Joe’s. I’m savoring them next to my bed. May prepared me for the amazing joy I’m anticipating in the merry month of June. I feel June is bursting out all over. I’m anticipating the jolly good fun of four carefree days on the enchanted island of Nantucket where Peter and I rented a home the summer following our wedding in 1974. Let joy be unrestrained!
“Love & Live Happy”