but I persist because I'm searching for enchantment
The wind and rain make a chilly start to the day, but it is early April after all, and ought to be expected.
Behind the wheel of her Mercedes, Stella’s back in control, adroitly steering both car and conversation in the right direction. We weave back and forth through a maze of streets with Stella showing me several sub-par listings. I have little patience for her marketing ploys this morning, yet she persists even though she can see I’m slowly getting vexed.
The drizzly streets create a moody, brooding background. I feel like Dante being led through hell by Beatrice, as we circle, loop back and re-navigate an unending labyrinth of crescents. Maybe it’s my fetishistic nature but I sense something mysterious about to unfold.
My mother was superstitious and I seem to have inherited this gene from her. Mother was raised Orthodox, but still believed in the old religion—I mean the pagan religion of gods and goddesses and a thousand local deities of everything imaginable.
And yes, I blame her for this morbid side to my personality.
“A penny for your thoughts,” Stella smiles. She can probably hazard a fairly accurate guess at why I’m feeling distracted.
“I doubt my thoughts are even worth that,” I say sullenly, staring out the rain-streaked passenger window.
The sad smile on her face tells me she understands, even cares—not that she isn’t interested in pursuing her own interests here—but the girl does have a heart.
“Are you sure you want a large detached? You know I could find a real charmer for half the asking price of these huge barns.”
I shake my head. How many agents would willingly forego a huge commission?
I see her point, but want something with character and huge grounds where I can retreat from the world. My book is still creating a buzz, and I’m tired of the signings and predictable interview questions. I need to get away, be alone with myself and heal.
“How about a Thirties Craftsman’s cottage?” she asks, navigating Rosedale Valley Road, “they have character and there are a few of them around.” I know she’s not just referring to houses, and is still trying to steer me in a sensible direction. I appreciate that, but also know where it’s leading.
“I know all about arts and crafts,” I say.
She flushes, understanding my implication.
“I like the idea of a house being part of the landscape, oriented to the garden and taking advantage of natural light—but all the ones I’ve seen are too small.”
“Touché,” she grins wryly.
I grin back. I like her—I really do, but am not interested in another career woman.
I guess I’m simply looking for enchantment.
“Well maybe, just maybe, I’ve got the dream for you,” she says finally, “since you’re so bound and determined to spend big bucks.”
“That’s me,” I chuckle wryly.
“Hey, Big Spender,” she laughs.
We pull up in front of a huge Arts and Crafts style house with an imposing façade. It’s an unusual design in that the front gable extends high over the roof—a device used in medieval times to prevent winds from lifting roof tiles.
I whistle softly. “This is impressive.”
“Wait until you see the gardens, Theo—the grounds back onto a ravine—it’s really lovely. I think this house has the kind of character you’ve been looking for.”
I’m thinking the same thing. I keep staring at the triple chimneystacks that tower high above the slate roof. It certainly does have character.
She takes me on a tour of the house and grounds and it’s everything I’ve been hoping for.
Inside its walls, I feel peaceful and serene. The house is calling to me. It seems time itself stands still here, locking in the ambiance of the Thirties, and shutting out the harsh world outside.
“The house has an interesting provenance,” she remarks casually as we return to the car.
I’m so enthralled with the property that I’m barely listening. I stop to look back and admire it again. The rain has just ended and the slate roof tiles are shining in the sun.
“What kind of provenance?” I ask off-handedly.
“It was owned by Blythe Summers – the poet – she lived here from 1921 until her death in 1975. Have you heard of her?”
Her words roar though my brain. Blythe and I have a history of sorts. That’s why Stella’s casual revelation shakes me. She has no way of knowing about my passion for the beautiful deceased poetess. And the mere thought of living in her house leaves me breathless at the prospect of channeling her spirit.
“Blythe Summers? You’ve got to be kidding,”
I say it calmly, trying to feign nonchalance, but Stella doesn’t miss much and she can tell I’m excited.
“What’s going on, Theo? You act as if you knew her but surely you’re much too young for that.”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that. It just so happens she’s one of my favorite poets. Besides, I’m interested in the house.”
Her face lights up. “You are?”
“I am,” I smile.
We put in an offer that afternoon and by evening the house is mine.