Kicking off summer 2010

It just doesn’t get any better than this:  a warm summer afternoon on the stunning Tuscan-inspired patio overlooking the vineyards at Wolffer Estate Winery, enjoying a glass of wine, some artisanal cheeses and bread while listening to international jazz by saxophonist Charles Certain and guitarist Alfredo Merat. The winery’s popular Twilight Thursdays (at the winery) and Sunset Fridays (at the farmstand on Rte. 27, just east of the winery) are back. Summer can officially begin!

While the calendar says summer is still almost a month away, Memorial Day is traditionally the summer kick-off here in the Hamptons. In the garden here at A Butler’s Manor, the warm, wet Spring has pushed everything forward about three weeks ahead of schedule. Most Memorial Day weekends, I’m cutting lilacs for the guest rooms…this year, it will be the pink Queen Elizabeth roses, which began opening this morning. And it looks like we’ll have perfect 70-degree weather for the holiday weekend. As I write, the outside temp is 80 degrees, the first real hot day of the year, and the pool is looking mighty tempting! I hope everyone is packing the sunscreen for the weekend, as the beach is going to be the place to be!

In our ongoing efforts to update our restaurant dining guide for our guests (hey, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), Chris and I visited a new restaurant overlooking the canal in Hampton Bays this week. Rumba is Caribbean island-inspired cuisine with a distinct nod to owner/chef David Hersh’s Miami upbringing and New Orleans background. It’s a small, casual place reminiscent of an island beach bar, with bamboo paddle fans and a deck overlooking the Shinnecock Canal. We had delectable Dominican ribs, and yummy marinated rib eye with roasted sweet potatoes and…I couldn’t help it…I had to splurge on the homemade key lime pie with a mountain of real whipped cream. And speaking of entertainment, on Thursdays Rumba features “Project Vibe,” live Reggae music from 8 -11 PM. A breeze off the water, the setting sun, a convivial crowd…what could go better with your daiquiri, mon?

Looking forward to warm summer breezes..and French wines with cheeses…and maybe some Jimmy Buffett music to go with the sand between my toes…

Quote of the Day: Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language. — Henry James

Up in the wild blue yonder

People come to the Hamptons for many reasons, the most common of which include our beautiful clean beaches and sweet little villages. Others come to golf, sail, hike, explore history, or just relax and enjoy it all. But this last weekend we had guests at A Butler’s Manor who were on the East End to do something I had heretofore been unaware one could do out here: Skydive.

Liam and Laura were our thrillseekers, and this is Laura here in the picture, showing some mock attitude but actually loving every second of her (approximately) 60-second freefall before the parachute kicked in. The company that offers the experience is Skydive Long Island in Calverton (about 25 miles northwest of us). I knew nothing about skydiving (and my fear of heights is such I’m not likely to try it anytime soon), so was fascinated to learn that a first time jump is always a tandem jump (seen here) with an experienced professional; Laura’s jump instructor has clocked over 14,000 jumps!! Also, notice the hands in the bottom of the picture. That’s the photographer (you were wondering about this already, right?) who jumps with you…he has a video camera, plus some sort of TeleTubby-looking camera on his head that takes a strobe series of still photos, like this one. The cameraman can’t launch his parachute until AFTER you do (otherwise it would get in the way of his photography of you). Now that’s thrill-seeking!

Needless to say, Liam and Laura’s description of their jump was THE topic over breakfast the next morning!! Still, they said that the next time they come stay, they’re going to skip the sky and just enjoy the blue of the pool!

(PS: Doesn’t the East End look cool from way up there!)

Quote of the Day: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. –Edward Abbey

Full spring ahead

Happy Cinco de Mayo! If I were back in Callifornia right now, believe me, I’d be at El Ranchito having a frozen margarita, grande, please, double the lime, hold the salt. And a plate of nachos.

However, life in Southampton here at A Butler’s Manor is mighty good right now. Weather report: A sunny, clear, glorious 70 degrees F, with just enough breeze that the windchimes bong occasionally– a bass note to accompany the treble of birdsong. The cherry tree is covered in pink petals (as is the lawn below it). We opened the pool a couple of weeks ago, and it is warming up nicely in the sun, a sparkling blue pond. As far as the garden goes, we appear to be about three weeks ahead of schedule. Trees are already filling in, and the azaleas are in full color. I can remember cutting lilac blossoms for the rooms for Memorial Day weekend, yet the lilacs are already in full bloom now, and we’ve been able to serve breakfast out on the patio the last couple of days.

It’s amazing how many people’s moods reflect a good dose of sunshine and nice weather. The sound of our guests’ laughter as they enjoyed breakfast in the garden this morning was a better pick-me-up than the best cup of coffee. And then after breakfast, up in Riverhead at BJ’s, I’d unloaded all my groceries onto the conveyor belt at checkout only to find that I’d neglected to retrieve my club membership card from Chris. Now, BJ’s customer service folks are always helpful, and I knew that if I went to the customer service desk with my ID they’d give me a temporary pass so that I could check out. But when the woman in front of me saw me starting to load my stuff back into my cart, she said, “Don’t put it all back and waste that time. We’ll just use my card.” Just a small thing, really, but it really gave me a warm, sunshiny feeling of connectedness with the Universe. Doesn’t Spring just do that to you?

It’s been three weeks today since my foot surgery. I’m out of the boot and wearing a sneaker for the most part, but am, alas, not yet able to walk to the beach and back in the early morning.  However, I’m trying short walks and took a gentle yoga class yesterday, and everything is feeling pretty good, considering. But the BEST thing? Today at noon, when I was cutting flowers from the garden for guest rooms, I kicked the sneakers off and went barefoot in the cool, damp grass. OOOOOOH!!! I don’t think I’ve enjoyed being barefoot so much since I was a kid!

Quote of the day: Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. –Walt Whitman