My family was sitting around the dinner table this weekend, eating steaks to celebrate John David’s birthday, when my Dad posed the question, “What would you do if you had one day and money was no object?” My answer came to me surprisingly quickly, and while I have had a few days to mull over and add details, I wanted to share it with you:
My well-rested eyes would flutter open to find myself sunk deeply in a goose down mattress, in a canopied bed made of sturdy wood and delicate silk. My heart would be at peace, knowing that my girls were having a play day with their grandparents, and my husband was still sleeping peacefully at my side. I’d snuggle closer to him and feel his warmth as I looked out the window to see sunlight breaking over the English countryside. He would wake, and we would both revel in the fact that there was no need to hurry out of bed. We’d talk excitedly about the plans for the day, though it would be silly since we have both been dreaming and planning for weeks. Then, he would dress quickly and leave to enjoy an adventure all his own as a maid scurried in to kindle a fire and draw my bath.
After soaking in rose petals and lavender oils in my bath by the fire, and re-reading some choice passages of the eighteenth century love story I’ve just finished, it’s time to dress. This is a crucial step, as one must feel beautiful to truly enjoy a day. I’m going to wear a calico dress, cream with tiny pink and blue flowers scattered intermittently across the soft fabric. Cotton lace accents the borders of the dress and my whole ensemble looks as though Elizabeth Bennett just took it off. It won’t, however, actually be an antique dress, because I don’t want to spend the day fussing over keeping it perfectly preserved. Once I’m dressed, feeling every bit the Victorian woman, I’ll tiptoe down the rutted and worn stairs of our old English manor house and smell breakfast being prepared in the kitchen. A combination of scones baking, eggs poaching, Hollandaise sauce simmering, Canadian bacon frying, and wood burning entices my senses and draws me to the kitchen where I find a plump cook bending her bonnet-covered head over a bowl as she scoops out the Devonshire cream she’ll be serving with our breakfast.
She shoos me outside and I laughingly oblige. As I step out the kitchen door into the garden, I find that our breakfast has been set under the newly blossoming cherry trees. I am greeted by two dear friends, who share my love of Victorian novels and are also dressed in period attire. There is a stranger, a man, at the table, and as we approach he stands and introduces himself in a crisp British accent as the world’s premier authority on old English literature. We sit down to our breakfast of Eggs Benedict, scones and tea and our new acquaintance enlightens us on the mysteries and symbols and history and themes and cultural jokes, in any novel we care to ask about. The time escapes us, entranced as we all are by his vast knowledge, and I have to excuse myself for I have only one day, and there is much more to be done.
Throughout breakfast I have enjoyed the comfort of knowing that Jeremiah is close by, active in doing something he loves, but now it is time to feel the excitement of enjoying life with him. I rush to the ancient stone barn where he waits with two horses saddled and ready for us. A groom hands me a riding coat, cinched tightly at the waist but billowing large enough behind me to cover the horse’s rump. With a nod from Jeremiah we are off, just the two of us galloping hard and fast across the meadow before us, feeling the strength and agility of the animal beneath us who is allowing us to experience what it is he was made for. We slow down, laughing as we approach a little stream and canter the next mile or so through the clear spring water. We talk about the cottage we might build beneath that copse of trees and the fun our girls would have exploring these forests. The horses lead us to a small pond and we realize that the heat of the day is upon us. We take off our riding coats and shoes and run into the cold waters, soaking our clothes and thankful for the respite. After a sufficient wade, we ride back to the manor and hand our horses over to the astonished groom, who is not used to receiving his riders soaking wet.
Once back inside we change into normal clothes, you see Jeremiah was in riding breeches as well. I slip on an airy, blue silk sundress with a cream sweater tucked under my arm for the evening chill. We go out to meet the helicopter that his waiting to take us to…Cinque Terre on the Amalfi coast. The sweet cook has prepared a picnic basket with thinly sliced beef tenderloin on yeast rolls and grilled asparagus spears for us to eat on our trip. We enjoy the snack and the views from the air until fatigue overtakes us and we both fall asleep.
We wake as we land and are ushered to a small table on the beach as the helicopter flies away. A steep cliff rises up behind us and aqua blue water splashes onto the shore in front of us. We both have a Margarita and I put my feet in Jeremiah’s lap as we quietly enjoy the brass orange and red light of sunset over the water. Hand in hand, but not locking fingers because that is so ridiculously uncomfortable, we walk the half mile down the beach to the next village carved into the mountainside. As dusk is settling we are seated at a restaurant that we almost missed, so part of the mountain it seemed with its cobbled stone edifices. There is no artificial lighting, only candlelight, and we eat rich pastas and savor locally made wine long into the evening. Finally, we walk through the small seaside town, on the narrow streets, surrounded by the laughter and talking of happy Italians, delighting in life. We fall asleep in our private villa, with the windows thrown open to let in the fresh air off the sea and the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks. I am tucked snugly under crisp white linens, beside my husband, with a fire crackling at our feet…
Anybody else want to share your perfect day???