Tuesday, September 14, 2010

La Mama, A Wedding Cake House and A Fellow Lexingtonian

My beautiful mother gracefully slowly swung her long still-coltish legs to step out of the car. I was there to balance her step into the gravel shoulder on Summer Street.

Her deep brown liquid eyes scanned the historic homes and manicured landscape taking in every minute detail. Her face glows. Her smile, her signature smile, spread across her face beaming.

It is a gorgeous September day. One of those clear bright ones where the sky is so blue that the vibrancy of each autumn leaf pops with definite edges. The palette is breathtaking. Vivid reds, rusty orange, lemony yellow.

Quintessential New England brilliantly color-coordinated by Mother Nature herself. The other decorator extraordinaire.

Mom has impeccable taste.

Always has.

Whether it is the warmth of a gracious life reflected in her interior design.

Her bountiful gardens laden with budding bougainvillea vines leafing over trellised porticoes. Or the clematis and wisteria snaking up and over twin pergolas framing her screened veranda overlooking the harbor.

Or, the elegant style of her clothes ... whether jeans or dressy slacks or evening attire. Accessorized perfectly from her over-abundant collections. Scarves tossed casually, perfectly accenting her outfit. Whether Maine

Mom's got it in a way I can only hope to imitate.

Her soft Kentucky drawl breaks my rambling thoughts. She wants to bottle today. Protect and save its ephemeral beauty with her treasures. Those collected over a lifetime. Her eighty-plus years.

A warmth envelopes my being. She is elegant, my Mom. Simply stunning. These days, too, are fleeting. We turn to each other and nod knowingly.

On to our business. Touring the rarely opened Wedding Cake House. Hosted by its eccentric octogenarian owner, Jimmy Barker. A fellow Lexingtonian. A Southern gentleman art dealer of the first order. A character in his own right with homes here on the coast of Maine, in the rolling bluegrass of Kentucky and in swanky Palm Beach.

We purchase the tickets which will benefit local food pantries and stroll the immaculate grounds. Birds sing. A few leaves swirl and fall to the ground. The gentle breeze flutters flower petals in the English urns on either side of the front door. We take a seat on a lovely painted Chinese Chippendale outdoors bench. And wait for the small group to assemble.

Inside the Wedding Cake House we are treated to its fabled historied past. The furnishings are period some. Others fine pieces giving the home an eclectic spirit. Old and new. Like us. Our style. I escort her from one room to the next. Up the narrow winding 18th century staircase built by out of work ship carpenters. Like in my home.

Jimmy Barker himself is there. Cooking for his dinner guests. The lovely walnut trestle table set in a riot of colors. He spins around looking spry for his eighty-something years. He and Mom connect. Stories from earlier times in their old Kentucky home roll excitedly off their tongues. Memories of people long forgotten stream back.

I stand aside and take it all in. Happily. Mom is enraptured. There accents so thick a knife might not cut through. It has been a fun afternoon reminiscing. Visiting old friends in an out-of-context surroundings.

Cheers, darling Mama, with all my love and deep devotion ... and then some! May you live forever.

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