ATHENS — If you were to bump into a lady named Jenny Tucker Brinkley at Earth Fare, grabbing a healthy snack for lunch, or at the Five and Ten, where she often goes for a fulfilling dining experience, you would likely think this pretty woman to be a sophisticate who would be about as far from a down-home aficionado as Kate Middleton.
Get to know her, however, and you quickly learn that she enjoys an upbeat lifestyle with an accent on immersing herself in all things in her daily life — from homemaker chores to monitoring the building of a new house on University Drive to racing over hill and dale on her beloved Irish thoroughbred, Guinness or in her silver Ford F350 off-road super duty pickup truck with all the bells and whistles.
She can drive that truck with aplomb for long distances with a three-ton trailer hitched to the back. She can back her beloved pickup into tight spaces. Reverse does not intimidate or flummox this ebullient brunette with an evergreen smile, one who enjoys Georgia football and basketball and any travel experience which is emotionally intoxicating and illuminating. An art museum or a new best-seller keep her in an anticipatory mood almost as much as a blue ribbon she and Guinness might claim in competition.
The things her friends appreciate about her most is that she is a genuine person. She’s the same in an evening gown as she is in her riding breeches or a pair of faded jeans as she stomps about the grounds of her new-house-in-the-making, ensuring that contractor, Tyler Davis, keeps all bevels becoming and in sync.
Her horse trailer was tailored for lodging accommodation, which reflects that she has a wizened appreciation for economy, but mostly a deep and abiding affection for being awestruck by the heavens as she turns in for the evening, and exhilarated by the forthcoming sunrise. Landscapes, nature and the great outdoors make her day.
When she enjoys a rarefied-air sojourn over to Newton County to bond and guide Guinness through a workout, she will follow the backcountry roads in her silver pickup, or in her vintage Triumph convertible. When she chooses her Triumph, she is energized by the elevated hum of the engine of her sassy sports car, her ponytail waving in the breeze, her spirits uplifted by the pleasure of the moment.
Nobody enjoys the journey more than Jenny, whether it is life in general, the 41-mile trek to Mansfield to be with Guinness, or “fixing” an appetizing meal garnished with stimulating conversation for her and her husband Matt, a wealth manager for Consolidated Planning Corporation. You could take her to Buckingham Palace or the Varsity and she would be the same.
“Enjoy the moment,” is what Jenny is all about.
A couple of summers ago, we invited the Brinkleys to accompany us on a trip to New York. Broadway, River Café, shopping or whatever our off-the-cuff agenda called for. We then drove up U.S. Route 1 to Maine, making stops of historical note along the way satisfying our collective curiosities. Touring the Yale campus at New Haven, having dinner at the seafood café that was the favorite of the first President Bush, getting a close-up view of the Bush compound at Kennebunkport that was arranged by old friends Mona and Harold Brewer, but mostly just “lazying” our way through the seaside villages of Maine.
In New York, I asked my friend Aaron Boone, manager of the Yankees for tickets, which he provided in a prime Yankee Stadium location. Matt and Jenny dressed in Yankee garb to express appreciation, which was followed up by the same display of home team loyalty when we got to Boston where long time Sox announcer David O’Brien arranged for Red Sox tickets. This outing allowed the Brinkley’s, outfitted in home team Sox regalia, to swoon to baseball’s antiquity, Fenway Park. Yankee fans for a day! You bet. Same with the Sox!
After shopping on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Jenny was just as eager to plunge into the shelves and racks of L.L. Bean when we got to Portland, Maine. After all, Fifth Avenue accommodates her sophisticate taste and L.L. Bean has the right stuff for an outing in Mansfield.
When fishing the Yampa River in Colorado during a Georgia open date last fall, she could hardly contain her emotions when her tiny fly was sucked down by a 22-inch brown trout, which someday will be an artifact that will greet guests when her new digs are finished.
Any treatise on the life and times of JTB would be incomplete without a serious review of Guinness’s trophy-grabbing history in association with the riding expertise of Jenny, her close friend and trainer Mary Bess Davis, and her only child, daughter Matilda.
Recently, we accompanied Jenny for a warm-up with Guinness at the home and stables of Mary Bess in Mansfield, six miles east of Covington. Guinness’s ears perked up at the sound of Jenny’s voice. His neighs and whinnies became a staccato symphony when she came in view. She caused his anxiety to subside by softly extending her hand with a sugar treat.
His nod of approval bespoke generous thanks, but his glistening eyes reflected that “one treat is not enough.”
Next it was workout time. For the better part of an hour, Mary Bess spoke encouraging words while Jenny let her knees — gentle to Guinness’s ribs — became like a conductor’s semaphore to motivate Guinness over jumps and obstacles, all designed to help make him an accomplished show horse.
Although long-in-the-tooth, Guinness still has a lot in the tank. When the day comes when he and Jenny will no longer claim championship ribbons, their bonding won’t subside. Their love for each other will not abate and there will still be those rarefied-air drives over to Mansfield to make each other’s day.