Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

I’ve written before about how cool it is to have guests who come back often, whom you get to know year after year while sharing a tiny part of their lives, watching them grow and go on to new opportunities. It’s sort of like having kids.

Speaking of kids, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you remember Zach, who first visited us as a twelve-year old equestrian competing in the Hampton Classic Horse show. Over the years, we’ve watched Zach grow up, moving from Children’s to Junior to Adult Jumper Class. We saw him turn 18, then 21 (the Classic often intersects with his birthday). We missed him the year that freshman orientation at his college interferred with Hampton Classic Week and knew how disappointed he was about that. We’ve seen him choose a career that will keep him involved with the show horse world, even if he doesn’t himself show anymore. And this year he returned for his 13th Classic Week with us, bringing with him his beautiful fiancee.

And a big blow up swan floatie for the pool, which they are enjoying like the kids they still are, in my mind.

I love this business.

Actually, there’s a lot of romance here at A Butler’s Manor this week. Besides our affianced couple, we’ve had a pair celebrating a mini-honeymoon and, tonight, a bride and groom. The bride is upstairs getting ready as I write. So love is definitely in the air here.

(Though not on the roads. Traffic in town on this gorgous, oh-no-it’s-almost-end-of-summer Saturday is diabolical. It’s a great day to be at the beach.)

In other Hampton Classic news, we are proud of another guest of ours competing in the Adult Jumper class. Look at all these ribbons!! Congratulations, Deb!!

It seems strange to have the Classic finishing up and still have another week until Labor Day. It’s a long summer this year: Memorial Day fell on the earliest date it can, May 25, and Labor Day will fall the latest day it can, on September 7. But hey, we think a longer summer is better than a blue moon!!


Quote of the day: Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the starts. To sit on a branch and study the clouds. –Regina Brett  

A summer of friends

What’s better than a busy summer? A busy summer filled with repeat guests…and many more we hope will become repeat guests. Looking over the calendar over the past six or so weeks, I see that we have had a steady stream of visitors who have called A Butler’s Manor their home in the Hamptons at least once before. While we are continually energized by welcoming new guests (and meeting new friends!), there is a special kind of warmth created by those who choose to join us more than once.

This week, we have visiting again from Louisville, KY the sculptor Dave Caudill, who is picking up some pieces recently featured in the garden at the Chrysalis Gallery here in Southampton. We met Dave and his wife JoAnn several years ago when he was showing at a gallery on western Long Island and decided to venture east to the Hamptons. We loved Dave’s graceful stainless steel artwork so much after his first visit several years ago that we now feature two pieces in our garden. Here’s Dave (on the right with JoAnn), his brother Ed and sister in law Kitty in front of Garden Song.

Rain threatened during breakfast the other morning, so we set for breakfast inside. It turned out especially nice because everyone enjoyed chatting together, and lingered quite a while after the meal had been cleared. As I looked round the table, I realized that of the group, two separate couples were repeat guests — one from last year, another from last month! — and another couple had been referred to us by their daughter who had stayed with us earlier this summer. Sweet!

No rain today, though…the weather has been perfect for our beachgoing guests. The long, hot season has definitely taken a toll on the plant life in the area, though. I notice on my walks that the plane trees at the end of South Main Street here in Southampton are already begining to drop their leaves. More remarkable is that the beach rose (rosa rugosa) that grows along the dunes, and which usually produces its cherry-tomato-like rose hips about now, instead began producing hips beginning the end of June!!

Alas, one repeat guest I’ll miss this year is our junior equestrian Zach, of whom I wrote last year. Zach is starting college this year, and freshman orientation is scheduled for precisely the same week of the Hampton Classic Horse Show. Life does move on! We wish him all the best in his collegiate life, but hope we see him next year!

To old friends and new, the best of August to you!

Quote of the Day: August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied.– Joseph Wood Krutch

Hampton Classic Horse Show

The last week of August is the annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, a stellar week-long equestrian event held in Bridgehampton. It is one of the great entertainment values out here — every day except the final Sunday (Grand Prix), attendance for a whole carload costs only $20. (By contrast, parking at Cooper’s Beach costs twice that. Which is why we offer shuttle service to the beach! –but I digress…) I haven’t been able to attend the Classic for probably ten years now, but this year I was determined to go at least once, to see my favorite equestrian.

Zach, his mom, and often his father and grandmother have been guests at A Butler’s Manor every Classic week since we opened in 2002, and I look forward to their visit every year. When we first met, Zach was a few days shy of 12 years old, a serious little guy with a shy smile and a big appreciation for my breakfasts. (I always plan a menu that includes Southwest Souffle, Banana French Toast and blueberry muffins during his visit.) He’ll turn 18 next week, and every year, I’ve wanted to go see him compete. Yesterday I finally got a chance to do so.

The Classic has grown in scope since the last time I attended. Yesterday, I counted 2 (3?) show rings besides the Grand Prix ring, plus a couple of training rings and practice areas. It is a joy just to watch the riders warming up their mounts. The show rings are gorgeous…reminiscent of a beautifully-landscaped backyard that just happens to have fences to jump. The boutique arcade has nearly as many shopping stalls as Bridgehampton has shops. And there is a good-sized food arcade, tents with exhibits, pony rides for the kids, and lots more –kind of like a small scale country fair with an emphasis on horses. What is really impressive are the horse stalls, which are under huge tents on either side of the grounds. Some of the stalls have little rooms adjacent to the horse enclosures where the owners, trainers, riders can hang out in between competitions. Some of these stalls look like outdoor living rooms and have real furniture, and even rugs on the ground…and some of the tack trunks are so gorgeous, I’d like one for our living room!

I didn’t know where or even when Zach would be competing — two or three competitions per show ring are listed starting at 8 AM, the length of the event determined by the size of the class. I found the High Junior Jumper Class in the Grand Prix ring, and amazingly, it was just about to start when I found a seat in the bleachers.

Watching a jumping event is awesome — the synchronicity of horse and rider as they approach and take the jumps is incredible to behold. The polish of these young riders belies their age. They sit astride their horses with such grace, and of course, in full dress, they are beyond elegant. And oh, the horses. Sleek and groomed, manes braided or beribboned, every piece of brass or silver polished to a high shine…The first few riders took down a fence or two during their round. I think the field of some 24 riders was nearly a third of the way through before a rider was “clear” — no fences, no faults. From that point, the tension really builds, as to place, the riders must complete the circuit in the shortest amount of time without toppling a fence.

Zach was announced approximately 2/3 through the field. By this time, I had alerted everyone sitting around me, so we were all collectively holding our breath as he urged his glossy chestnut horse over the fences. The triple jump was closest to me — three fences close together. Seven people I’d never before met were all counting aloud one…two…three! as he cleared each of the bars. Across the ring, over a double, then two last fences and…he was clear! And he was in fourth place on the leader board! (The blurry picture of him jumping the gate, above, was taken with hands as nervous –and proud!– as I know his mother Deborah was as well!)

The second to last contender had a fantastic circuit that catapulted her into the lead, so Zach finished fifth…but the first six places are ribboned, and get to participate in a victory canter around the ring. That’s him riding up to collect his ribbon. I feel like a proud parent!!

Only drawback for Zack: The better he does, the earlier his trainer wants him at the show! — so he misses out on our hot breakfast entree! (Consolation prize: a daily care package with muffins, fresh fruit, breakfast bars and bottles of water.) But the swimming pool sure feels great in the late afternoons after a hot day on the back of a horse…

Quote of the Day: A horse can lend its rider the speed and strength he or she lacks, but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more than a loan. —Pam Brown