Last weekend I had the pleasure to be a guest speaker for the Theatre of New Canaan’s Spring Awakening benefit, at Le Beau Chateau, in New Canaan, Connecticut. The rooms were full of fabulous table-top designs by notable interior designers. The designs were inspired by popular Broadway shows such as “A Secret Garden,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Peter Pan,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “A Little Night Music.” These unusual tabletops offered a unique and inspirational environment for my lecture. I was also excited to work so close to home, so I gave my assistant the day off and invited good friend Barbara, who was in town for the weekend.
My seersucker suit and spectator shoes were no match for Barbara’s heavenly white ensemble, complete with a hint of magical sparkle and six-inch Michael Kors platform sandals. We made a good looking couple so we grabbed Miss Violet and off we went on a family road trip to New Canaan for the afternoon.
It’s been nearly 60 years since the chateau opened its doors to the public. So, I was very excited to arrive early and take a walk through and experience a touch of France. Situated on 52 acres and bought by Huguette Clark in 1952, it has sat unfurnished and unoccupied since then. Built in 1937, in French manor style, it is complete with a grand staircase, tall ceilings, and multiple fireplaces. With my passport renewed, what better way to kick-start my European holiday tomorrow?
We arrived early to see the vignettes and decided to have some lunch on the patio, where there is a delightful bistro menu. As we sat down, a woman next to us asked, “Are you Mar Jennings?” ” Yes,” I replied. Then she proceeded to tell me how much she loved my book and how it helped her during a difficult time in her life. “Your book saved my life– the photos and your writing got me through it all. Your passion and love for gardening changed my life.” I got up and gave her a big kiss and told her how touched I was.
Truth be told, Life On Mar’s, A Four Season Garden was dedicated to Edward R. Smith, my mentor and devoted friend, whose encouragement and wisdom, helped secure my life’s foundation. So if I can, in any way, help others find that same love and passion along the way, well then, my “guardian angel” has made another dream of mine come true.
We ended the event with lots of press photos and a book signing, but my mind continued to wander back to that amazing woman on the patio. It wasn’t long ago, when I too, was touched profoundly by someone. Now, years later, if I can do the same–well then I have truly been “touched by an angel”.