Thursday, December 30, 2010

The T Family.

Cozied Up By The Fire. Office Special 12/28/10
When I was a kid, my family lived a shortish ride on pony to a large private plot of land with a hunting reserve. It was pretty forested, with large, well-maintained paths winding in and out of this forested area and into the farm fields nearby that also belonged to the same property. We were allowed to ride there as long as we stayed on the main paths and only when it wasn’t pheasant season. This preserve was attached to an old house belonging to an old family. They had a noble title still, but there was little left of the prestige the family knew except their name, their home, their property and their history. Mr. T worked full-time.  Their other income source was their manour-house. It was open to touristsduring the week, and either Mrs. T or teenaged young Master T would give tours. The family had moved into a small part of the manour and the rest of the house was set up as the museum.

It wasn’t long before I, and a friend of mine (next door neighbour of sorts) who rode one of my ponies ran into their 2 younger kids on their ponies on the property, and they showed us all sorts of secret paths and wonderful places, and they eventually became our friends. We’d ride over to fetch them, or they come and fetch us... always on the back of a fuzzy Shetland or welsh mix pony. We’d ride right though neighbourhood streets, and bike paths to get there. We’d ride over and the Mrs. T would make us a nice healthy lunch or a goûter of a tartine and some café au lait, and we’d play inside for a while, or make figures out of marzipan to sell to people on holidays door to door in the saddle (the neighbours rarely bought it because we’d made it with our grubby pony-smelling hands). I remember wowing the T family a number of times with my marzipan renderings of Garfield and Odie and such. :)

I loved their home. It was just a few rooms of this huge manour that they lived in all clustered around the neat old kitchen with 30s style appliances. When I slept over, we’d creep about at night into the museumy bit and lie down on the really tiny beds, and play act and so on. The part they lived in was old and beautiful, but also really homey... the elegant paneled walls had these austere portraits of their ancestors hanging on them, against cracked paint and notched plaster. The furniture was elegant, but worn; the rugs rich, but threadbare. The place always smelled wonderful, of leek soup being simmered, of steak-au-poivre with fresh frites, of salad greens with vinaigrette, of baking frangipane, of mussels in white wine.. it was sheer comfort. Their Christmas trees, as most of them were for us, were gangly, very prickly assemblages with tinsel and bulbs, and their table was always welcoming to guests. I spent many hours in that house, admiring Mrs. T in her perpetual chignon, her ever-present string of pearls around her neck, even when she wore jeans, and her class and elegance that oozed from every pore, even when she was kneeling in the soil, yanking up weeds. All of the T family spoke English. And excellent English at that. But most of the time, we kids shifted between Flemish and French when we ran about in a pack of four, the hoofs of our little ponies clattering loudly on the tarmac as we roamed the neighbourhoods.

We’d go riding looking for the elusive red squirrels with the fuzzy ears that were so hard to find, and to see if we could spot some of the hunting stock ... pheasants etc. We galloped wildly along the big paths and jumped small obstacles on the ponies. We pooled our toys and acted out stories with them... We pretended to be a group of hobbits traveling to Mordor.

Every time the holidays roll around I think of the T family. I remember trying to ‘trick-or-treat’ for money dressed as kings on Three Kings day... or sitting in their parlour with the huge clock and drawing horses and ponies, or reading Thelwell Pony picture books, or putting together toys from the kinder-surprise eggs we’d gotten at the corner store. I think about them a lot. I miss you T-Family.

Happy New Year to all of you.  Think of good warm things as much as you can.


the Goodwife said...

This is a beautiful post and I could easily visualize everything you talked about. God bless you and yours in the coming year!

Brad Fallon said...

Just want to stop and enjoy fantastic writing, i want to say it's great post and keep updating new writing.


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