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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Curiosity Chain

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. 

I’ve caught snow dusted lobster boats at dawn in winter, and the moonset when the temperature has registered less than 0.  I’ve caught deer stepping through the woods, coyotes cavorting in a field and turkeys in my yard. I’ve viewed the peaceful serenity of two dinghy’s drifting on an eddying tide, a celebrated Boston museum that sat on the top of my “bucket list,” and a tiny little maritime museum located in my own home town.   

I’ve watched the sunrise behind a lighthouse on Christmas Eve, and a sunset over a bay amid a pack of Harley Davidson riders.  I’ve sat on the deck at a nature reserve and listened to the ripple of a salt water river flowing by. I have even power-walked, oh, OK, trespassed, on a remote private property with panoramic views located on the other side of the harbor with a friend—though when a caretaker kindly suggested we turn around, we heeded the warning.

Over the past few years, time and the curiosity inherited from my father has allowed me to experience so many things I’d missed before.  Believe me—I’m aware how I’ve been blessed.  

If I ever make it into Bellarmine though, we’ll call it a minor miracle.

The View From Bellarmine DrivewayThe boat belongs to the property.
 (You've seen this picture before, but perhaps a repeat will help you understand my thoughts on that nasty chain.)

Happy Weekend Folks!


Yvonne Osborne said...

Something about a "keep out" sign rankles me. And I totally get your feelings for the nasty chain. You want to yank it from its pilings and heave it through a window. My father is very much like your father and I like the way you differentiate your use of the word, interested. But by being interested he is also interesting.
Your harbor is beautiful. The majority of our lakeshore is private and you can barely glimpse a view of the water. I always wonder...who originally owned this lakeshore and who had the right to sell off 90 pct of it? But now I'm getting sidetracked. I wonder why your Jesuits felt the need to chain the drive. To keep the evil tourists at bay?

Bish Denham said...

I once lived in a little A frame house in the middle of some shops. One had to take stairs to get into my home. Tourists often appeared in the doorway thinking it was a shop. I put a rope across the bottom of the stairs with a sign that said, "Private Residence." I still had people CLIMB OVER the rope, walk up the steps, open the door and then act surprised that they were in a home.

I understand the chain.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Then you have seen great things.
Call them up and see if you can get a guided tour. What do you have to lose?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mystery always calls. I understand your father. I love to explore what's out of reach. But once I was crazy to know what was behind a locked gate and thick growth of trees and shrubs that only allowed a glimpse of some old mansion. One day someone must have bought it and "cleaned" it up. All the plants disappeared and there was a beautiful house that no longer had any mystery at all.

Carol Kilgore said...

Don't write them off just yet. Perhaps they are having a conference or a retreat over the weekend or for a week or two.

I totally understand how you feel. I'm very much a 'don't tell me I can't do that' person.

I think I would have liked your father.

Colette Martin said...

I love this story about your father, and your characterization of him as interested. If you ever get to go inside that house, please share!

Robyn Campbell said...

What a beautiful story, Liza. I gotta know what's in that house. This is most definitely a book, my friend. I'm glad you know that you've been blessed. :-)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

The more I get to know you, the more convinced I become that you must be one of the most interesting/ed persons out there. I love how you find some much joy in things so many others overlook. And that you feel hurt by a chain holding you out.

Your dad reminds me of my husband. He's always curious and looking into everything he doesn't know. If there's something out there new to him, it's a mystery he has to explore. I can't tell you how many times he's gotten on his phone to google something to get answers for weird things just because he doesn't know it. It works out well because whenever I don't know something I need to know for a book, chances are he's already googled it or investigated it.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I see a road I haven't traveled I take to see where it comes out. IT's fun to do. I tell my son we're exploring. "Let's go exploring." Now that my son is old enough to drive, he does it. I like looking at new things. Yes, I've been known to look in old houses and barns or whatever takes my fancy.

I got it from my dad. I gave it my son. I hope he carries on the tradition.

As for the chain. They have a number. Give them a call and ask if you can have a tour or if not a tour, if you can walk up closer and look at the grounds and take some pictures of the beautiful architecture.

At the worse, they will say no, and the word no won't hurt you. But, you know what? They might just say yes.

Wouldn't that be lovely?


Kittie Howard said...

Hmmm, why not e-mail them this post? I'm not Catholic, but via my Catholic husband I've met some Jesuit priests. I think they'd understand and show you around. Chains aren't in their blood either.

Liza, the roux darkens rather quickly as you near those last photos. I dip my finger and taste as the colors change. You can taste the flour cook. If you're nervous about burning the roux toward the end, add a drop or two of Kitchen Bouquet, but small drops. And butter makes a lighter roux than oil. This is when I use Kitchen Bouquet to darken (as I prefer a butter-based roux. Will mention this on today's post.

Hub's disappointed the RedSox lost but teared up over Fenway's B-Day Party.

Lynda R Young said...

wow, you've done a great many wonderful things. Gotta love an inquisitive mind.