Monday, December 6, 2010


I spent my last afternoon with Lauryn while she was making big lush Christmas wreaths from pine boughs with pine cones and bright ribbons, all her materials laid out on the floor of a glass enclosed old porch at her boyfriend’s old Littlewton house. She said she had had this wreath business when she was living in Littleton in the past, so it was easy to get back in it now. This seemed so touching to me: the brave gorgeous girl being independent with something basically artistic, even back in the darkest days.

This warm world of girlfriends and boyfriends and a town where you were known. The pretty girl’s veneer that she was in a world that was light and happy.

But during the wreath-making her son kept appearing. He had lived in Littleton with his grandmother, Aunt Alice, since he was thrown out of the White Mountain School. Now he kept dropping in at the boyfriend’s house. He was a little angry. He said he thought what we were doing was ridiculous He said he did not like not being able to tell his grandmother that Fred was here in the mountains. Everyone, he said, should get along. His tone was arch.

Here in the warm world of girlfriends and boyfriends in regular place – with the grandson a messenger from places of a colder, sterner dispensation. Lauryn’s mother using her son to get her back.

When Lauryn was in her first weeks in college in Minnesota – a college she want to because her mother did not want her joining her town friends at the University of New Hampshire – she had called her mother for advice and help. She had found herself pregnant. Aunt Alice had promptly flown out to the Midest and talked Lauryn into having the child, though Lauryn wanted an abortion. I had asked her why she had not done what she had wanted to do. Her reply was, “Because this is my mother.”

Her mother, who had been the designated girl in trouble of her generation, the light airy one who was loved to distraction by her father and more or less openly had affairs that so disturbed people who never spoke of such things.

Her father loved her more than anyone else, though she scandalized them. And anyway she stayed loyal. She kept on returning to the White Mountains in the summers, even when she was living in England, and when the going got really tough it was to the White Mountains that she had gone, though to Littleton rather than the correct summer people’s towns. Afterwards she complained that none of the old family friends up there had been welcoming.

She was a problem, especially to my father, who had given up part of his inheritance, and then seen to it that that part and the money that had come to her directly was in a trust set up so that she could never get at the principal. Enough for her to live on but with no extraneous luxuries.

And now it was her daughter, the pretty one of the next generation, who had responded to hard times by returning to the mountains.

Lauryn said she wanted me to take me one of the wreaths. She said she really wanted me to have it.

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