It’s easy to make any event took more extravagant, majestic and lovely given the backdrop of a wood paneled 150 year old dining room and 200 year old grand dame of a home. It’s almost cheating from the standpoint of hosting. But there is so much more to this privilege than a wood paneled dining room and an historic home amidst untamed land.
The dining room emits an energy that calls each of the party around the table to their highest form. I’ve seen it time and again. The light in the room makes everyone a bit more beautiful. The walls echo and dance with the combined notes of conversations past and present. Reverberations of silly conversational games, political strategy, lively debate, ribald humor, outright vulgarity, toddler tantrums and sibling rivalries expressed and unexpressed over 6 generations bounce from the lacquered ceiling as reminders that we are not alone in creating this evening. The remnants of 200 years of distinguished visitors float around that house, I feel the energy lodge most powerfully between the 6 walls of the Dining Room (yes, 6)
When I sit at that table with a collection of friends and family it is the most distinct privilege that I have in this life to share it with them. That table, this place, these people past and present, have sustained me through the unimaginable and have formed me into first the girl, then the woman that I am today. It’s complicated, intriguing, vulnerable, earthy. Welcoming, fun and generous. Yes this dining room can be off-putting, intimidating, quirky, imperious and moody. Like me. All of this space IS me. Time and again I’ve see the myriad of ways this family home invites visitors to be the best and highest version of themselves. Of ourselves. On these grounds, one cannot pretend.
I regularly hear guests remark about the magic. While some is captured in a photograph it is best experienced in person.
What a distinct privilege to share it.
3 generations gathered on the porch then in the dining room for a themed dinner the other night (because we play here. That’s part of the fun. We all play). There was a palpable fluidity conversationally. Gentle winds wishing through fully opened windows on three sides of the room flickered the candles. The only light to the room spilled from the horn chandelier and a multitude of candles. The guests illuminated the darker corners of the room with their hearty laughter, each taking their turn in the limelight, sharing stories from chicken coops, to kite boards, to personal projects (each more delicious than the last), challenges, adventures, desires and triumphs.
The highlight for me? A group of extended friends and family children quietly opened the heavy wooden doors and circled the head of the table around dessert. After the smallest bit of encouragement they stood in a loose choral formation and sang the folk song ‘500 miles’ for the room. 10 teens, voices lifted together for an appreciative seated audience of 18. This tradition of singing, of sharing, of comfort in putting ourselves out there amidst the embrace of history; it continues with this generation. It is the distinct privilege that we have in my family, in this space, in this time. It is what was conveyed to us. It is what we have conveyed to them. It is how I know the younger generation is listening and being present when often they seem not to be.
To be able to share that multi generational connection with friends and other family members is one of my greatest joys. To invite friends in to that intimate circle and see them light up in appreciation of the grounding power of the land, the history, the magic that we all share in this place THAT is my distinct privilege. It is my great fortune and blessing to be a conduit to this magic.
So when you look at the dining room table or the pastoral views, please do remember that, as spectacular as they are to view, it is what they represent in terms of belonging and place, that is what so deeply resonates. That is where the magic lies. That is the soul of the space.