“I’ve been practicing Noel Coward quips all week,” David said as he, Mackenzie, Daisy and I drove west on the Mass Pike. “I’m going to be a country weekend house guest!” We were on our way to spend a weekend at Daisy’s Dad and his girlfriend’s country house, in the Berkshires. They’re from Manhattan. We’re from the country. We spend a lot of weekends in the country, but not in the country house of a New York couple. We have people come spend country weekends in our house.
As soon as we arrived, Daisy’s Dad came out to greet us. Dad’s girlfriend came to the door, then out onto the brick walkway, lined with boxwoods and hydrangeas. There behind them was the house, a country dream. An antique colonial, the house sat with an aged authority on its patch of meadow. We went in to examine and admire the original plaster and paint on the walls and woodwork, the artfully hung art, the fireplaces and mantles with age softened colors, and windows with glass so authentically old and rippled none of the windows open in the main part of the house. The former owners who restored the house didn’t want to risk breaking any of the old glass by making the windows functional.
The “new room” was built from old carriage sheds that formed an ell at the back of the house. At the end of the room, on either side of the fireplace, were full wall windows. The seed heads of ornamental grasses flagged in the wind just outside the glass, with a meadow beyond the garden, then trees and then the line of one mountain dipping into the next drawing the horizon. A living masterpiece.
Sunday morning we got up to coffee and the NY Times at the thick, wooden kitchen table. David and I went for a walk, past the dairy farm next door, down the slope of a field to the winding river, the mountains darkening as rain spit in fits. Then a rainbow arched over the clouds ahead and disappeared into the blue-black clouds to the west. We talked about children and parents, love and loss, ambition and expectation, and the tangled twist of family we’ve found ourselves in, moving together through a meet the parents weekend without a full set of parents among us. Yet there is no tangle, just simple threads of love and connection and a weekend built around talking, looking at books of poetry and art, and eating together.
Daisy has been learning the art of bread baking and brought a cinnamon loaf and the dough for baguettes. Saturday night, before dinner, Daisy baked the baguettes. They came out with a perfectly crisp and chewy crust and smooth and light on the inside. We gathered in the kitchen, artisan cheeses, a rose of roasted figs in a grape leaf and sliced pear on a platter, and broke bread together. A blessing slipped through me and went out into the country air.