I spent my birthday as an author-in-residence at the Ames Free Library in North Easton, MA. Through a chance encounter, an immediate spark of connection, and some planning, I resided royally in a 19th c. mansion designed by Andrew Jackson Downing who collaborated with Frederick Law Olmstead of Central Park fame. I arrived at night, kindly escorted, met, and settled into what would be my home for the next day and quarter. I settled in with the second Neapolitan novel by Elena Ferrante, in which life becomes even harsher for our knowledge-seeking heroines. On waking, I discovered I was in another world. I was inside a mansion. Tackling a kuerig capsule of coffee, a drip coffeemaker, and a precious container of milk, I made coffee, ate a buttered English muffin, and began to read. The room I was in contained a small library of books on writing, comfortable chairs, and a view that revealed an Italian-like garden, complete with curving low walls, a pergola, and in the distance, a fountain.
After a full day with a visit with my brother, a reading/talk in the library, and a celebratory dinner ( I turned fifty-five), I retired to “my home.” Then the bliss: I woke the next day, settled at the desk, and wrote. I discovered the Italian garden was the garden in the novel in progress. Only when I came home did I find out that Downing drew plans for another landscaped manor, on property owned by Matthew Vassar, whose college I attended.
I wish my professor, the late Bill Gifford, could share this discovery with me. He would appreciate the connection, and would have something witty to add. I trek back to Vassar to attend his menorial in December.
Happiest birthday, dear Indira. How rich your life is and how much richer you make it with your beautiful observations and insights.
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Wishing you a Happy Birthday, and a Happy Year until the next one 🙂
Thank you, Leila! I also got new clothes for Diwali;)
Happy birthday, Indira. The setting where you spent your birthday sounds really wonderful. When I saw Frederick Law Olmstead it reminded me of my research into pocket parks (especially in NYC), some of which he designed. The very small sanctuaries of green to his expansive Central Park (and all the many parks he designed throughout the country). Thanks for the reminder and for sharing this slice of your life. -Dana
I love the idea of pocket parks– the few I have wandered into by accident in NY are always such a good surprise! What a great life you have led and lead!