A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Old Girls

Today was Crucial Xgiving, the Emory House's answer to Thanksgiving. A bit subdued compared to last year's blowout, but still beautiful. We had the whole traditional feast, minus the turkey of course: mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, squashes, cranberry sauce, plus several family favorite dishes. Then of course pies--I always bake a pumpkin, an apple, and a two-crust lemon pie. The house looked and smelled wonderful; the conversation was good; the food delicious by all reports.

Ali built a beautiful fire in the library, but I couldn't get anyone in front of it for the longest time. In daylight, guests are always drawn to the kitchen, with the sunlight streaming in through the stained glass windows. Dinner was in the formal dining room, of course. Afterward, everyone lingered around the table for coffee and pie and Sambuca and wouldn't budge.

Some of my guests had other stops to make, and by evening it was just a few friends. One of the nice things about having a big house is the ability to shut the doors on dirty dishes and move to a clean room. By the time my cooking and serving chores were over, I could relax in front of the still-bright fire with what was left of my company.

Eventually it was just me and three high school friends--plus one patient husband--all together for the first time in many years. The conversation turned at a point, of course, to our children. Sandy has four; I have three; Lorna has two, and Alma has one.

Each of us has one daughter, prettier and more accomplished than we were at the same age. Lila is a professor of religious studies, Emily is a landscape architect, Rebecca is a dancer. Cordelia is going back to school for yet another degree, on her way to becoming an industrial designer. Best of all, they're real sweethearts, kind-hearted, gracious, and polite. Who would have thought, in the crazy sixties, that we'd leave such a beautiful legacy?

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