Country Barn Thanksgiving
We’re headed to the Valley of the Moon for Thanksgiving weekend to take a much-needed break from the historic, although occasionally grueling, resurrection of our beloved Golden Gate. If you are interested in our progress on the 100-year-old Spanish Revival property that is recovering from decades of decayed dry rot, icky black mold and ravenous termites, scroll down to take a peek.
Ponderosa Pine Barn
My longtime friend, Stuart, and his partner, Carlos, built a Ponderosa Pine barn on their three-acre property south of the tiny Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen several years ago. Marshall and I have enjoyed many holiday celebrations relishing dishes and pies made by Stuart from the sumptuous vegetables and fruits Carlos has grown in their abundant garden.
A gifted photographer with an amazing eye for beauty, Carlos invited me to view the Thanksgiving barn before the other guests arrived. The huge sliding doors at both ends of the enormous interior space open to the lush adjacent trees. Carlos had embellished the honey-colored freckled walls with cowboy hats, blankets, saddles and fall themed tree branches.
An impossibly long table was poised between two square posts supporting chunky overhead beams. Carlos enhanced the lanky table with tall candlelit lanterns, crunchy fall leaves, pumpkins, persimmons, pomegranates and earthy green and brown pottery. Two rows of nine armless fawn-colored linen chairs flanked the narrow-planked table welcoming guests to their seats with hand-made name cards at each plate.
Greeters & Guests
Two handsome and engaging brown and white horses, Taos and Cinnabar, greeted dinner guests as they carried warm platters of food prepared by their hosts from the main house kitchen.
After 18 guests filled the barn with greetings, food and laughter, I looked around the room to discover beauty in the diversity before me. I was awestruck – black, brown, white, straight, gay, married, divorced, single, widowed, kids, no kids – born in six different countries – Kenya, France, Mexico, Denmark, Norway, and the United States – WOW!
Once all the guests had located their seats, friends toasted Stuart’s chunky steaming stuffing, crusty mashed potatoes, crispy lime green Brussels sprouts, two huge mahogany butter-roasted turkeys, and baskets of toasty warm flaxseed, olive and rosemary bread placed upon a saffron colored serving table on the west wall of the barn. Jumbo pitchers of sparkling water and a curated selection of wines from Sonoma and Napa Valley vineyards formed a line down the centers of the rangy wooden tables.
I scanned the faces illuminated with wonder, gratitude and candlelight as we paused, held hands and bowed our heads. “Thank you for this feast – a reverent moment of beauty in our lives. We are grateful for all these amazing people, our loving animals, the beautiful barn, the luscious food and the stunning nature that surrounds us,” followed by a collective “Amen.”
Stuart’s finale of homemade cinnamon laced pumpkin pie, sourdough crusted pecan pie, tart and zesty lemon pie, and fluffy coconut cream pie gave us energy to dance the night away. Music filled the rafters of the barn as fat candles glowed and silver moonlight shimmered on the trees beyond the wide-open barn doors that welcomed in the star-filled night. What an amazing gathering as I witnessed everyone dancing with everyone.
I hope you feast on the love in your life this Thanksgiving holiday. Let’s put aside discontent, anger and regret and be grateful for the joy, love and friendships we have and will treasure every day of the year.
Update on Golden Gate
Framing is now progressing on the main and upper levels of the house. The front retaining wall is formed and will be filled with concrete to create a curvaceous patio where guests can access the entry door.
The removal of the ceiling from the previously dark entryway makes the space feel larger and brighter. The stringer of plywood steps outlines the new stairway to the second level where it connects to a balcony on the upper floor. The opening to the descending stairway to the lower level is on the right side of the entry, accessible from an unseen landing.
This image represents the 8’W x 9’H opening in the new bedroom we added on the main floor. Golden Gate originally had only two small bedrooms upstairs, so we added a third bedroom as a guest suite on the main floor. The curved blue surface in front of the doors will become part of the terrace, and the shimmering blue beyond is the San Francisco Bay in front of Sausalito.
I so appreciate all of you who have followed my work and our journey on this project that has been an extremely challenging process for us. Thanks so much for your kind and gracious comments and incredible support – it means so much! I hope you and your families have a truly wonderful and heartfelt Thanksgiving.