Saturday, November 14, 2009


After the Dinner Party

The guests have all gone and the dishes are done.
The cottage speaks only in whispers now, in the muffled ticktocktick of the old clock in the bookcase, in the now and then crackle of the diminishing blaze still slightly aglow within the stone fireplace. Edward dozes at my feet as I sit, comfortably curled like a cat, deep in the arms of the orange velvet chair, sipping a toddy that is warm and so sweet. The playful personality of the midnight wind has changed since the arrival of November. It sounds more serious somehow, moving through the black leaves outside with a purpose, sending shadows through the windowpanes, muted grey dancers that silently waltz round the candlelit walls. I watch them move and imagine the music only they can hear.
Surely, this is the essence of contentment.

It had been the best sort of day. One spent chopping and slicing, stirring and tasting; a day decorated with antique china and pink flowers, old-fashioned music and red, red wine, happy dogs napping under the chairs of happy dinner guests. The cottage had been redolent with the cozy fragrances of fresh apple pie, crusty bread, boeuf bourguignon simmering in a fat red pot - the menu I had promised for the first truly cold weekend of autumn.
There had been spirited talk of books and of movies, music and Christmas, of Italian landscapes, bagpipes, and Renaissance art.

Cooking for friends, making them welcome, is such a satisfying occupation at any season of the year, but especially just now. When the nights become longer and the temperature drops it seems that a spirit of merriment knocks at the door, a woodland sorcerer clad in robes of crimson leaves and cardinal feathers whose talent is pure hospitality. I am happy to serve as his apprentice. An elegant soul, he is a bit more formal than his counterparts of summer, those alfresco fairies of barefoot spontaneity and pink champagne. No, he seems to prefer dressier occasions - richer colours, richer foods. He is all red roses and tapestry, mulled wine and dark chocolate - his candles are scented with chestnuts and pomegranate, and he hides the recordings of Debussy, preferring to fill the house with Mozart instead. A most convivial fellow, I highly recommend giving him free rein in your household all season long. I promise you shall have even more fun than your guests.

"Frame thy mind to mirth and merriment,
which bars a thousand harms, and lengthens life"
William Shakespeare


47 comments:

  1. I wait all year for the season that makes me feel this way. A little bit of Mozart is definitely on the cards this weekend.

    I love your blog.

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  2. I really enjoyed this - I could feel the ease and contentment of your wonderful day oozing from yourwords. I think a meal with friends taken slowly with lots of interesting and amusing conversation is one of the best things in life - your's sounds truly magical:)

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  3. Just for a minute I was there sipping a gorgeous toddy with you ... aaah blissful! Leigh

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  4. What a warm and inviting post! I had my brother and his wife for dinner last saturday, and I agree, it is much nicer when the nights are longer. Love the painting! suzie. xx

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  5. We have been invited out to dinner tommorow evening. I'm hoping it will live up to this atmospheric inviting picture you've depicted here ;)
    xx

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  6. I'm doing my best not to pack a bag and arrive on your doorstep for christmas, Pamela. You'r words paint the most warm, inviting picture of hospitality at it's best. "a spirit of merriment knocks at the door" .... love it!

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  7. I love your postings
    Your words are magic
    and photographs divine.
    Love Jeanne♥

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  8. I don't need to participate with your give away but I just want you to congratulate you on your 200th post!
    have a wonderful weekend!

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  9. Your words conjured in my head the Dickensian Spirit of Christmas Present. I love those rich colours and velvets with touches of golds caught in the firelight. Beautiful Pamela.

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  10. Your menu is one I have often used, the house flled with aytumn toned chrysanthemums admixed with leaves am berries.
    Anoyjer favoutite was 'carbonade de boef a la flamande', the name alove is a treat.

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  11. What a lovely post--and evening. Now I want a hot toddy and the scent of boeuf bourguignon!

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  12. By reading this post, I really feel like a fly who saw everything what happened! It feels as I was one of your guests!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Greet

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  13. One of the nicest compliments I have received was when an old friend came for dinner at autumn time. She walked into the front door and sighed, "Your house always smells delicious. What's for dinner?" Loved your post and your indication that red is delightful friend at your cottage. Of course, Edward looks divine in red!

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  14. Lovely Pamela....it sounds like the perfect evening, xv.

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  15. It sounds entrancing, you sound like the perfect hosts, I am sure you are. How nice when the host can relax along with the guests, I always end up in a frazzle.

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  16. Lovely..and now I am curious to know what is a 'toddy'..I don't believe we know this in Holland!
    Happy weekend:)

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  17. You sound to me to be well into the spirit of Christmas Pamela. Tell me, do Edward and Apple hang up their stockings at Christmas - and did they each get a teeny helping of your beef dish?

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  18. what a lovely evening you describe...beautiful words...and pictures ..i especially liked the woodland sorcerer..tonight the wind howls around the house and the rain is lashing the windows...but i'm cosy inside your world!! xx

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  19. We're expecting between 150 and 200 tonight, to celebrate Bill's gallery's 7th anniversary! Not so cozy as your evening, but full of laughter and cheer, art and friends, and plenty of that spirited talk.

    Your post put me right in your kitchen - you are so gifted!

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  20. What a lovely thought to be snuggled up in the orange velvet chair and drinking something strong and sweet. A wonderful description of November in full swing and the season taking on a change. Lovely words and so enjoyable to read. XXXX

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  21. patricia;

    your way with words is magical, i could envision being at your gathering. wish i was........no one i know would indulge my love of bagpipe chat!
    debra
    5th and state

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  22. Your words wave a magic charm over the party, Parmela - marvelous hospitality in a rich and luxurious atmosphere of friendship.

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  23. I have to say dear Pamela and Edward, that I enjoyed your lovely dinner party, Mozart in the background, and conversations, almost as much had I been there. You are the most gracious hosts. Thank you for this enchanted post. A happy weekend to you!

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  24. I felt like I were there with you all Pamela. Your descriptions are so soothing & precise, that it transforms you right to that spot; all with hot toddy in hand. I love nothing more than a toddy, bagpipes, Mozart, and sweet dogs. Forgot the beef bourguignon too. What a wonderful stage you set for your dear friends.
    I do think you need to be a 'life coach'! Sweet weekend to you all x

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  25. I just found you via Derrick and I'm so glad I did!
    What a lovely blog you have!

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  26. lovely post, I especially like your description of your woodland sorcerer

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  27. A few weeks ago on a nicely polished October day, I was buying in central England when I came across a 16th century Virgin and Child painting that had been found in Scotland. Time had been hard on it, or it had lived well – I am not sure which, but in that cosmically unfair moment, it took my breath away. That is the antiquing dilemma…the euphoric discovery high and then the sobering decision to keep or sell and my place is packed to the gutters. Which is why a hand-full of glass eyes sit in a nest in my store.... and the harder it rains the more they gaze questioningly at you.

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  28. One word:

    "Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh."

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  29. Oh, how I would love to be a guest at your table!

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  30. What a dreamy evening and afterglow.

    I think you're the first person I've encountered who enjoys the lengthening nights. They do sneak up on us quickly in Minnesota. Between 4:30 and 5, the night drops in quickly. And I love it. It makes me want to burn beautifully scented candles and crawl into bed early to read and snuggle with my pups.

    Thanks for this lovely paean to late autumn.

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  31. And did you wear velvet or wool plaid - or both?

    I think I want to cook more in November because of an instinct to store up food. :)

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  32. OH! So perfect...I want to be there. You have captured the spitrit of the season and the evening so so well. I LOVE coming here and filling my cup!

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  33. The painting, the comforting and your spirit tale makes me want to just snuggle up somewhere cozy and relax... Thank you!!

    Shakespeare's quote is one to lift the soul!!!

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  34. I love the words you use to describe the simple pleasures of each season...how many times can I say this?...every time I comment here:)

    ...sometimes I invite people over for dinner just for inspiration to decorate and clean and cook nice slow meals...things I am often in too much of a hurry to do just for me and Mr O...

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  35. You've been tagged today!
    The Honest Scrap Award is yours today!

    Love to read, what you have to tell!
    XX
    Victoria

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  36. Your posts are beautiful and inspirational and I want to have a dinner party now!!!!
    Hugs Lynn xxxx

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  37. Salam!
    I loved this post. Infact, I love visiting your blog and catching up on some truly wonderful reading in which I get lost for a while, and then often emerge feeling more grateful,relaxed,and dreamy.
    I really have to say, thank you.
    Congratulations on your 200th post!

    I love how you draw us in to see things from your appreciative view, and share an attitude of gratitude!
    Best,
    Afshan.

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  38. Hi Pamela,

    What beautiful words and loved the thought of you curled up in the orange velvet chair next to the fire, with a hot toddy.
    Sounded like a wonderful evening.

    Enjoy your week
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  39. What a delight to, as if by magic, be included as your quest. I love the firelight and lamplight in the painting.

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  40. this all sounds lovely.

    it sounds like a FINE time.
    xx

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  41. I love your attitude toward cold-weather entertaining. This is just how I feel about it, too! There's something magical about cooking for friends as the temperature dips. Lighting candles and making warm drinks--I love it all!

    Thanks for this sparkling, inspiring post, Pamela! xoxo

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  42. I just discovered your blog, what a wonderful place! Lovely posts. If you like the long nights, you'd love visiting the Scottish Highlands in autumn/winter! It's dark by 4 o'clock now. This is my favourite time of year here...the smells of coal and turf fires in my village, pine in my woods, the winds, mist and rain...and Christmas is coming! Lizzy :)

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  43. your post makes me think that you love to be with people -the painting has the cozy feel of your evening:)

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  44. You, and your friends, are very lucky, Pamela. I love the painting.

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  45. A beautiful post. I also love the after a dinner party feeling. Often, what was "created" lingers and you can feel it's happy energy in your home. The best entertaining is about creating community. All your posts should find their way into a published book.

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  46. Lovely words...the painting looks exactly like my parents house when they still were alive...it realy touched my heart!

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  47. ......
    oh what glorious dreamy contentment reading your blog entries affords me when I cannot sleep. Thank you for your prose, your style and most of all for caring for such wonderful pleasures of life!! Our best to you and yours in the feastive time of year!

    Barbara P.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!