January 2009: Growing room

January 2009: Growing room

When I asked Mark and Cynthia Lorenzoni, who have owned and operated Ragged Mountain Running Shop since 1982, to talk about the most important room in their Albemarle house, they named the kitchen—because, as Mark says, “This is where we get all our gear together to go out running.” They and their friends, they explained, have coffee and get suited up here, since the kitchen is on the opposite end of the house from the bedrooms where any of their four children might be sleeping.

As we talked, though, most of what the two were saying had to do with family: cooking, eating and conversing. The Lorenzoni kids, two boys and two girls, are now 23, 21, 19 and 11, and only the youngest, Annie, still lives at home. But the bustle of a big family still feels palpable in this room.

Mark’s parents, who bought the surrounding 17-acre property in 1980, live just up the driveway in a Tudor-style house they built from salvaged brick and timber. Mark and Cynthia’s house was originally a 900-square-foot cottage, heated with wood and featuring an attached row of horse stables. When they moved in, newly married, “We had not a care in the world,” remembers Mark. But their family soon expanded, and by 1987, it was time for the first of several additions, including this kitchen.

Now, bricks from a torn-down garage on Elliewood Avenue and hand-hewn timbers—both leftovers from the Tudor house —define the room, along with an island and barstools that make a natural magnet for guests, and a dining table supporting a jigsaw puzzle in progress. Paintings by Edward Thomas and Nancy Bass (“our two big art splurges,” says Mark) keeps company with a print by Cynthia’s sister of the New England apple orchard where they grew up.

“The number of serious conversations that have happened in this room…” Mark says, contemplating nearly three decades of family life. Not long ago, the couple’s oldest child, Alec, sat at a barstool and announced he was taking a trip to surprise an ex-girlfriend on her birthday. His parents urged caution, seeing it as a serious move. Off he went, and—“Well,” says Mark with obvious delight, “now they’re engaged.”

Mark: “When we had our third child, we couldn’t deal with [the original kitchen] anymore.”

Cynthia: “[Before he was born,] we were wondering, should we have another child or add on? I said, have the baby and that’ll force us to add on.”

Mark: “It’s a special room. We [recently] had 35 kids here, who work for us, for homemade lasagna; we do it every year [at Christmastime]. They all hung out in the kitchen.”

Cynthia: “People say, ‘I wish the kitchen was bigger,’ but people like being in small spaces.”

Mark: “We’ve had this partnership in everything. Cynthia was the great marathon runner and I coached her…we have the business…I do the dishes every night. Cynthia does most of the cooking. I make the salads.

“We’ve had some fights in this room too—our Saturday night specials. If we track the five big fights of our marriage they’re all on Saturday nights.”

Cynthia: “Because we’re exhausted on Saturday nights.”

Mark: “This kitchen has seen more action as far as our children’s friends. They’d start making bagel sandwiches, filling their arms with drinks. But it wasn’t just the food; they always wanted to hang out and talk. It has been by far the best room as far as friends and family.

“That table—we had all our meals with all the kids. We were stubborn about meals as the kids were growing up. That’s the one thing we could fight for—they’d be coming and going, but for dinner you were expected.”

Cynthia: “We’re never moving. Moving out of this kitchen [for a recent renovation] is all the moving I ever want to do.”

Mark: “It’s been a great experience and a lot of fond memories. Twenty-eight years in this one spot. The town has changed around us, the business has grown, our family has grown. But the feeling of being here is the same.”