A Summer Afternoon

Lunch On The Deck

Henry James had it right when he said, and I’m probably paraphrasing here, “The most beautiful words in the English language, a summer afternoon, a summer afternoon.” How many of them have we allowed to slip by year after year while we’ve toiled to pay for the homes and gardens we never take the time to enjoy? Those of us who have been working from home this year have been given a unique opportunity to take lunch breaks outdoors with those who share our space. Here at Dalwhinnie we’ve managed to make the most of this precious time by setting the table on the deck with flowers, using colorful dishware, and making time for a relaxing meal, no matter how simple, instead of the paper bag with chips and a sandwich at our desks.

Althea and Grace strive to make gracious living a part of the gestalt of Blanchard House, using the best china, the good silver, and hosting meals with friends whenever possible. Music, wine, interesting food, flowers, and appreciation of good conversation go together, after all. And why not? It’s one reason why the two of them left LA. Everyone lives so far away and is so busy that they rarely get together with friends at the end of a day there. Not so in Kirkland, Washington, and even less so on rural Whidbey Island.

When we moved here from Kirkland we knew hardly anyone. A year later we were meeting new people, having dinner parties and picnics, and today we are part of the social fabric of the island. We joined local boards, got involved in local activities, and I became the conductor of the community orchestra. Busy. Happy. But in a more casual and relaxed way. We host real potlucks, the kind where people don’t tell you what they’re bringing, and planning your dish isn’t an obligation but a fun surprise. We pull tables into the garden on the spur of the moment when the weather permits for tea breaks under the trees. On clear nights we go into the middle of our dark field to look up at the sky, humbled by a universe of stars and planets and constellations. Even when it’s just the two of us, my husband and I head for the picnic table and put away the devices so we can enjoy the quiet and rare beauty of a summer afternoon. This is the magic of Blanchard House that we carry within us, taking the time to make our romantic dreams come true.

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