Wrong airport (came into Reagan instead of Dulles). Nasty competitive traffic all around Washington and some 25+ miles on the 4-lane highway which leads west to Loudon County and Middleburg, Virginia–my destination today.

I am totally stressed and not loving this trip! But, slowly, the hectic traffic of US-50 dwindles into a picturesque two-lane country road, bordered by old stone walls and flowering trees in greening pastures. Here and there I can glimpse the stately elegance of manor houses and old stables,

Suddenly, I am catapulted back literally half a century. It is another spring, and I am 18 years old and waiting for my mother to finish her volunteer shift at the old log cabin which houses the Pinehurst Woman’s Exchange. Earlier that day I had spent hours riding my horse through the Sandhills piney woods, with dogwoods and azaleas flowering everywhere. And, similar to Middleburg, on that far distant spring afternoon, all around me had bloomed an almost forgotten Southland, insulated by old money and long-maintained traditions.

Pulling to the side of the road, by an antique gate, I think about a young Jackie Kennedy riding to the hounds across these verdant Virginia fields–long before our world changed forever in a city called Dallas.

I am here because ADM has been chosen to implement the interiors of new luxury hotel and resort on the old Harriman estate in Middleburg–to be called The Salamander Inn. And, at that moment, what we must attain becomes patently clear and I make a silent promise that ADM will (through carefully managing assets and finding vendors dedicated to quality) help Salamander’s designers deliver the atmosphere of an almost lost world of elegance and grace.