6.25.2010

After the Party

I don't often throw parties, but I have been known to help other people throw them. I'm good on prep work, furniture arranging, and styling--well, I learned something useful after all those years at House and Garden. During my Slow Love Tour (really, this should be a rock band) I visited New Mexico, where yet another friend from summer camp days lives. Lisa swung into action. She lined up a radio show with the estimable Carol Boss, who has a two hour program on Saturdays called Women's Focus; she is a terrific interviewer. I love radio, because the pace is relaxed, and you can get into substantive issues. I also did readings at two excellent independent bookstores: Bookworks, in Albuquerque, and Collected Works, in Santa Fe. Both these shops are vibrant, busy, warm, welcoming, and thriving--and so are the women who own and run them. Impressive. Two new books came home in my suitcase: Jack London's Dog, by Dirk Wales, with handsome illustrations by Barry Moser--this is going right into what I'm calling The Future Grandchild Stash--and The Hummingbird's Daugher, by Luis Alberto Urrea, a writer Nancy Rutland, the owner of Bookworks, praised highly.

In my honor--lovely phrase--Lisa threw a large dinner party in her back garden, cooking a feast for twenty friends. She promises to send the recipe for the pork dish smothered in oranges and spinach and cabbage and peppers and cayenne and cumin and I don't know what all else, but I'm still waiting...I promise to share it too. We spent all day dashing back and forth to stores for candles, hurricane lamps, cocktail napkins, crackers, wine, champagne, and more candles. Candles are the secret to a good party. You can never have too many. Candles, and good wine. Shadows, of the heart and of the light, keep conversation going.

We talked late into the night. Santa Fe must have one of the driest climates I've ever been in--and it was brutally hot. Unusual, Lisa said. I say, welcome to the future. But wouldn't you know it? Right in the middle of dinner, a small gray cloud floated into the sky, obscured the moon, sprinkled a bit of rain, and then exited. We were all so astonished that we sat through the drizzle. Our clothes were dry again moments later. As I snatch any opportunity to hurl cliches around, I said to Lisa, "Into every life a little rain must fall." She just raised an eyebrow and said, "Good. Otherwise how are you going to grow?"

A party is at its best when it is over, to my mind, when everyone is gone, the table is cleared, but the chairs are still scattered about, just as your guests have left them. Lisa and I poured a last glass of wine and finally relaxed, curled up under the stars on a sofa--that's the nice thing about a dry, hot climate: you can have entire living rooms outdoors. As we chatted about who said what to whom and why, our whispers lingered under the towering silver cottonwoods, the night breezes rustled and shivered the leaves, the candles guttered and burned blue, and ghosts settled in amicably around us. The present may indeed be the only real moment, but the allure of the instant passed is astonishing.

14 comments:

Ashling said...

What a magical, evocative post, and I love the photo that accompanies it. Thank you for that moment of poetry...

Madgew said...

I too enjoyed your post. I love sitting in my yard or on my front patio and just enjoying the late night sounds. Even the birds still chat and the sounds of the wind chimes and the fountain running is music to my ears and the best part is I didn't have to go far to find it. Thanks for sharing a backyard with me.

Jayne said...

Now that sounds like a slow love evening!

Anonymous said...

was loving this until the part about gossiping about the guests afterward- sure they might love to read this

virginia said...

Santa Fe showers - refreshing, especially during Rodeo week, when it's mixed with the smell of horses, hay, and keyed-up cowboys.

This was a beautiful description - and I took "gossiping" to mean "re-cap".

Sara Barroso said...

Beautiful post. I love the first photo too. Very inspiring. Re: whole living rooms outside check out LEE Indusries new Uncovered outdoor line. Anyone anywhere can have whole living rooms outside now. By the way I always forget candles at a party... Not any more!

Dominique said...

Ah, Anonymous, I meant gossiping in the nicest sense of the word, chatting, not in a mean sense at all--they were all friends, after all! I will race to the dictionary and change if it is entirely negative in connotation! thanks. d

Dominique said...

OK, I have changed "gossiping" to "chatting" because I didn't want anyone to think we were being mean! I had intended the effect of that sort of loose, meandering, aimless kind of chatting! Thank you, editor! d

Peggy Montano & Paintings said...

I am on the last chapter of Slow Love. I don't want to end. :-( It has been hard to put it down.

june said...

The Hummingbird's Daughter is one of the best books that I have ever read! I loved it! I wrote Luis Urrea a fan letter and he actually responded with a lovely e-mail and then sent me a postcard with Teresita's picture on it which made that particular reading experience even more special. This is a book infused with the spirit of slow love.

slip4 said...

Sounds like a lovely party! I just today finished Slow Love, in the car on the way home from our beach vacation. I too did not want it to end. I am so glad that you have this blog, it makes it less sad that the book is over. I really enjoy your writing style!

Yesteryearimages@yahoo.com said...

Gossip is part of how we receive the news. It always has been. It's part of what makes the world go round and part of why you behave the way you do . It's part of how things are evaluated among peoples. So, glad to run across your site Ms Browning. I have been a hearty admirer for many years. The reason I subscribed to House & Garden although often just the colors on the cover meant I had to buy it. Looked for you after the passing of the magazine and found you just this latter part of winter. Wow love this site. From the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks I love your words and thoughts. Thank you.

Cristina said...

yet an other lovely and vibrant description, we all are getting used so much to receive. thanks!
and I did especially appreciate the very last sentence...

jan said...

What an honor to meet and talk with you at Bookworks in Albuquerque the evening of your book signing. (I'm the one with silver hair who came up to you, as you stood alone before speaking to us.) Again I wish to express how much I identify with your writings; your thoughts so beautifully captured in the written word... And now you live in RI! - my former home. I feel like I know you, and yet, I feel that cherished, private place in you. Thanks for all that you share with us.