It was May of 1968 when I first set foot in
Sunday morning we picked up The New York Times and saw a small ad for a four-bedroom house within walking distance from the
Rail Road station. The owner had placed the ad
just that morning and we were the first to respond. Both David and I fell in
love with this old colonial nestled in a cul-de-sac before we even set foot
inside. When we went in we were even more entranced as we saw that the house
was enveloped by the woods behind it, so that every window but one looked out
upon greenery. In the back a pulley had been set up between a couple of trees
so that the 11-year-old boy living there could swing from one great old oak to
another. In the finished basement that had once been living quarters for the
father-in-law of a previous owner we saw more evidence of the 11-year-old – a
turtle in the claw-footed bathtub.
The house didn’t have any of the three “musts” on my list: a kitchen large enough to eat in, a lavatory on the first floor, or a playroom for the children. No matter. Love overcomes “musts.” We made an offer on the house immediately. That evening the owner phoned us to say he had received a higher offer and if we wanted the house we would have to meet that. We did, and we moved in before the new school year.
My family lived in this dream house for more than forty years. We took all our meals in the dining room where we looked north at the riot of trees and never missed an eat-in kitchen. We fixed up a playroom down below the first floor (next to the bathroom with the turtle) which the girls hardly spent any time in. And we eventually put in a powder room off the kitchen. We filled the house with our colors and our art and each of us carved out our own special corners. Our extended family members and many dear friends came to visit and enjoy our home with us. These walls were witness to the happiest of times in our family -- and yes, the saddest of times. And always we knew we were living in a very special place.
Our girls grew up and moved away, and David and I occasionally talked about moving to an apartment in
Manhattan now that it
was just the two of us, but somehow we still managed to fill our space. He set
up an at-home office in one daughter’s former bedroom, we put up guests and
exercised on machines in another, and I took over the closet in a third. Years
earlier I had set up my office in the playroom space, where I could look out at
the trees when I needed to take a daydreaming break. We had paid off the
mortgage and saw no reason to leave. And neither of us wanted to clear out the
attic or David’s workshop. When people asked whether we thought of moving,
David said, “They’ll carry me out of here.” As it turned out, he walked out of
the house for the last time himself, suffered a stroke, and died four days
later without regaining consciousness.
And now that I was alone after almost 54 years of marriage, the house really
was too big.
And now I feel good knowing that the new family who bought the house has also fallen in love and will be raising their children here and loving the woods and the sunsets and the special sense of being in nature. They have had their first guest, a gifted poet and photographer who wrote her own paean to this magical place, accessible at