My father was an interested man. Note, I did not say “interesting” (which he was), but “interested,” meaning he was intrigued by things he didn’t know about, and eager to explore. If there was a road he’d never been down, he’d drive it. If there was a house being built, he’d climb into it. When a home he’d summered in as a child was torn down and rebuilt, he marched up the walk, knocked on the door, introduced himself to the new owner and received a guided tour. I know these things because often I was with him when he decided to “investigate.”
I thought of that today, while I taking an early morning walk past our harbor. The wind was blowing right into my face as I approached the private driveway leading to an 8.5 acre property on a bluff overlooking the water, which is my turn around point. Usually I walk several yards up the driveway and inhale the view of the harbor for a few minutes, before turning back the way I came. But for the first time I remember, a chain with a "Do Not Enter" sign dead center, linked the two stone pillars marking the entrance.
The estate, called Bellarmine, is owned by the Jesuits of Boston College and used as a retreat for priests and students of the school. It was last open to the public for a historical society fundraiser four years ago (How did I miss that?). Before then, it had been 18 years since the public had been invited in. The residence was apparently designed by one of the most renowned architects at the time, although without Google, I’d never know. The driveway curves, trees block what is beyond, so all we see is a roof and a couple of windows when we sail by in the summer.
In my father’s curious vein, I have wandered a ways up the driveway before, and visited a stone boathouse on the property, but while I’ve never had the nerve to go near the house, I took that chain as a personal affront. The pull of the unseen estate yanks at me, but I draw the line at trespassing on priests. The chain however, hurt. To console myself this morning, I reminded myself of all the places I have explored since life freed me to do so a few years ago.