Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Paradise Found

sunny with cloudy periods, temps 79

As you can see, we've found nirvana. And it is every bit as wonderful as it looks. Though perhaps even more wonderful because of the snow that hit just before we left!

We went over to Mike and Dom in the guest cottage for dinner Saturday night. When we left the meeting in Sutton at 7:30 there was already a couple of inches of snow - and huge flakes swirling down. We got to the cottage and had a terrific evening. Mike and Dom had visited many times, but then they returned to London for a couple of years before coming back to Montreal last fall. this was their first time back and the first time we'd really gotten together. Dom had cooked up a storm. And the storm outside was broiling away. There was a fire in the grate. One of those magical evenings with good friends, and lots to get caught up on, and magnificent food.

Then - about 11pm - it was time to head home. We were driving to Burlington, Vermont, on Sunday and wanted to get a good sleep. Well. We stepped outside and about a foot of quite heavy snow had fallen, and more coming down. We didn't think too much of it - until our car - the beetle - got stuck in the snow at the far end of the drive (which is really a dirt road).

We rocked it, and rocked. And it just kept skidding. Then Michael took the wheel and I pushed. Still nothing. So I trudged back down the drive to the cottage, and thumped on the door. Dom came running. They'd done most of the clean up and were just relaxing with a drink in front of the fire.

In my mind that'd always the best part of a dinner party. When everyone leaves - the dishes are done - and you can relax, and dissect.

The very worst thing that can happen, besides a meteor hitting, is a guest returning. And, the worst of all, is a guest returning covered in snow, saying she needs help in the blizzard.

But Mike and Dom were magnificent. Without hesitation or any hint this wasn't exactly what they'd just love to do, they got their coats and boots and hats and mitts on and out we all ran through the storm. At the car I took over the wheel, Michael face directions, while Dom and Mike pushed.

Thank God for gyms. And swimming. And weight lifting....and all the things Mike and Dom do (that we don't). But still they had to push and push and I wasn't at all sure we'd get it out. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw their handsome faces smushed against the window. They didn't appear to be smiling.

But suddenly they gave a great shove and I hit the gas at the right moment and we flew out of there. And didn't stop until we got home!

Then called them with great thanks.

But I have to say, I wasn't then sure we'd get the bug out of the driveway the next day for the 90 minute drive to Burlington. But Sunday dawned bright - the storm over. Tony came early and shoveled, and shoved the suitcases into the car. The plow came and got the snow out of the drive. And we were off.

The drive was actually very easy. We got to the airport hotel, checked in (upgraded, thank you very much for asking!), ordered room service and watched the Super Bowl. Well, Michael saw it all the way through, I pooped out about halftime.

The alarm went off at 4am. We caught the 4:30am shuttle to the Burlington airport. Got on the 6am jetBlue flight to New York City, then the 9am flight to Saint Lucia.

I'll tell you, when those wheels left the ground in NYC I felt like giggling hysterically. I honestly did not think everything would come together. Including that we wouldn't get another storm that might affect the flights.

Michael, on the other hand, didn't give it any thought. He just assumed all would work out, and smiled his way through the days leading up to the departure. Not a worry.

I envy that man. Part of me likes to think things go so smoothly for us because I worry and sort of clear the path ahead. Anticipate possible problems and make sure they're solved.

But I think that's a conceit. I think I worry less. But that might be a conceit too. I actually suspect we're a great team. I actually do solve problems, and Michael makes sure I'm not one of the problems.

We arrived in Saint Lucia, James met us at the airport and by 4pm we were in the villa being greeted by Fabrice (he's in the photo above - and I bet you thought that was Michael). He's the caretaker and lives in a cottage on the property. And Febs, who is the property manager. And Basil.

Basil is a chef and the wonderful owners of this private villa, Betty and John, arranged for Basil to cook us our first meal. so we changed out of turtlenecks and winter boots - then sat on the porch looking at the Petit Piton, eating nibblies of fish fritters and mixed vegetables. Sipping diet cokes. And wondering at our great good fortune.

then Basil served us a dinner of squash and spinach soup, mahi mahi (a St Lucian native fish) with lime and finely chopped vegetables and fruit relish, and for dessert a local specialty, coconut pie with chocolate sauce.

It was even better than it sounds.

By 8:30, though, we were in the huge king four poster bed, with a view of the now dark pitons. And out into the caribbean.

Bliss. Honestly.

this morning, more heaven. Shaka came and made us a breakfast of coffee and fresh fruit platter. We've fended for ourselves for lunch and dinner. Michael swam, I read. A few showers today and quite windy. But beautiful. And the design of the villa is brilliant so that even if it rains we can sit where you see Michael, and be protected...and watch the sailboats down below.

Tomorrow we might even leave the villa. Or we might not. How wonderful not to worry anymore.


danielle-momo said...

Ah, le bonheur de n'avoir à penser qu'à ce qui pourrait bien nous faire plaisir dans l'heure qui vient !

BONNES VACANCES à vous et Michael !
Vous les méritez bien.

A. Wright said...

Louise, the juxtaposition of your wintry banner on this page and the picture of the gorgeous gentleman in shorts and the equally gorgeous view with the brilliant sunshine is so delicious.

You and Michael deserve every minute in paradise. Enjoy.


Vicki said...

Thank you for letting us vicariously enjoy all the beauty and warmth. I'm sooooo ready for Spring!!

Marni said...

How fortunate you both are and how very much you deserve this. Enjoy! And thanks for sharing with us.

Diane said...

I'm with Alice, my eyes drawn to the melt your eyes centrefold of a man - other scenery looks fine. Glad you made it without a hitch, other than the stuck VW. Enjoy your holiday, you both so deserve it.

JeffB said...

I'm not a fan of warm weather and beaches for myself, but even I think this sounds like nirvana! Glad you had that treat.

Jodi said...

That looks soooo wonderful (as I sit here with 17 degrees F temps outside). Even better when you click to see the full size photos.

(I shoulda gone down to the airport and snuck into your luggage!)

lil Gluckstern said...

How lovely, and finally, warm! VW's are just marvelous when they get stuck, although I think your's is heavier than the one I had years ago. Your villa looks so romantic. A very nice place for a very nicely balanced couple. Enjoy your time.

Linda said...

Hard to believe there's such a beautiful, colorful spot just a few hours away from my cold, lifeless, colorless landscape! Soak it all in for your poor pale friends back home!

MargaretJ said...

Maybe you'll be inspired to allow Gamache to go to activity on Les Îles de la Madeleine!

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all,

Such fun to read your comments - and yes, a miraculous juxtaposition of winter and the tropics - made possible by jet travel...and the good luck to be able to do this.

Thank you for all your good wishes - off to lie in the sun and read.

Miss Diane said...

Je dirais que vous les avez bien mérité ces vacances! Profitez-en bien!