La Belle Ann, La Belle Carine

In the little picturesque town of Princeton, MA, live a delightful pot pourri of citizens, a cross section of the globe, even. The town sits high on the hip of a monadnock in central Massachusetts. We lived there for many years, raising children and enjoying the winters in the way youth can. We were a post-hippie group, enjoying our co-ed spas and summertime skinny dipping. I cross-country skied and hauled my offspring to the mountain where they zoomed their downhill stuff. In January we listened for the hooty-owls preparing to nest. In the springtime, I lay abed as the sun came up, listening to the too-whee call of the chickadee and the gurgle of the purple finch as they nested outside my window.

My neighbors were the best. Next door were the Smiths, God rest their souls. When a lightning strike took out their water pump and blew the paneling off their inside walls (yes, our houses stuck up into the storm ceilings) they were more than welcome to haul a hose across the driveway from our outdoor spigot to their house till the pump guy fixed it. (We all had wells, and ours went down over 400 feet). The next storm took out our pump, and they repaid the favor in kind. That sent my visiting mother flying back to Texas. She was not into the pioneering thing. We used a cast-iron antique stove to cook on when the power went out – she yipped “I can’t even make myself a cup of coffee” and went hurtling to the airport.


And the Flatts, who lived just beyond the Smiths. Dr. “JP” (Jean Pierre) Flatt, a Swiss-born medical researcher, was responsible for the pinning down of the correct IV mixtures for recovering patients. Ann, his wife, a beautiful leggy blonde, was a teacher of French in local schools, a member of a French speaking group I loved. And, she was the mother of wonderful children. The oldest one made the memory I share now – lovely Carine’s wedding in the country church at the corner. Carine shares her mother prettiness and the brains of both parents, she is one who has always been loving and loved in return. These days she has had to leave her children’s and handsome husband’s side from time to time to care for her mother.  Ann is fighting cancer. Talk about life being dreary and unfair.


But my happy memory must come first – the bucolic setting of the Congregational church’s white spire towering into sunny skies over the town green, the sight of Carine and her attendants walking up the little road from home, under the allee of spreading maples European village style, gentlest of breezes touching her blonde hair. Her cheeks glowed pink, smiles ringed all faces. Our son grabbed his camera and filmed it for a gift to them. In the Church, family friend Ruth played the flute and set the spell for the holy rite. It was enchanting, it was romantic, it was so perfectly Carine.

Well, remember that town ski slope? From the church a joyful congregation rollicked up to the ski-lift, seats now enchantingly beribboned and flower-strewn, following the wedded pair to the mountain top. There, the couple disappeared… where’d they go? The magic continued. They hopped off and fled to honeymoon, the crowd riding the swinging seats up and back to the feasting reception down at the lodge. It was the best country wedding ever. So perfectly Carine – as cleverly orchestrated by showman mama Ann.

One of the finest memories ever, for me.  Viva Ann!  Viva Carine!  You can do it.  Love conquers.