I was so happy there. Now it seems like a dream. Recently I wrote to a friend, “Someday I will write about that place.” So why not do it right now?
It was such a good life lesson. My years there were terrific. I loved every day in that place, it was unusually happy. The miracle is that though I did not realize it would be temporary, I paid attention and lived very much in the present moment.
Though there were annoyances like having to keep my son, Robert’s dogs for days or even weeks on end! Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (Butch and Sunny) were their names. Those dogs were so big and messy, shedding their white hair in large clumps. They ate anything that was not put away even things on the Kitchen countertops. One morning when I let them out along with my 2 small dogs, they surprised me. Bumping into the back of my knees from behind one of them sent me sprawling full length on my porch. It was so lucky no bones broke, though I had a sore knee for weeks after that.
My swimming pool was very close to the house, and it was completely private. Every morning from early May to mid-October, I swam in it. It lent itself to skinny dipping because no one could see me. Not even from the inside windows could a viewer get a clear sight. This was due to the tall crepe myrtle bushes/trees between the pool and the house. When the blossoms fell, the pool was full of tiny floating flowers in pink and white. I felt like Esther Williams swimming through flower-strewn water. (Are you all old enough to know who that is?)
The pleasures of living in that place cannot be counted. Memory serves up first one and then one hundred happy events which flood my brain. Some significant events like a rehearsal dinner for my oldest son Charley Jr and his intended Andrea. And some were minor like watching the moon rise on one side of the house and then set on the other. The epic snowstorm of December 18-19, 2009, which kept me snowed away from home for days. But once I got home it was marvelous, beautiful, a winter wonderland all to myself. Watching the flowers push through the soil in spring and finally bloom so that I could bring them inside to put them in vases. When the trees changed colors and lost their leaves in flocks of multi-colored falling debris, it was time to start having a fire every day in one of the many fireplaces. The peace and quiet there gave me space for introspection. My desire to write increased in this environment.
Mostly it was the peace of lying in the hammock under the magnificent Walnut tree. That tree anchored the yard and shot straight up, unusually tall and extravagantly full all the way around. Not typical of a Walnut tree because they are often squeezed into a straighter shape. This tree stood alone, and its spread was magnificent. Ah!!! It was magical. When, shockingly, that tree cracked in two, and I could see the sunlight through it, I knew it was lost. A part of my soul felt like it went off to another dimension with the tree. It was all as it should be. I don’t believe I could have left that house while that tree was still holding the space. And it was necessary to move. My job was to come live with my aging mother in her home in Washington, DC.
To make good use of my time, after leaving Barrsden, I have written a memoir about the 4 years when I really began to spend weeks at a time with Mother. It is a poignant story of the loss of a home and how I evolved from miserable to happy while nothing actually changed except ME. I changed.
I am happy now, living here in Washington, D.C. but I will never forget Barrsden. Even though it turned out to be temporary, it was an extraordinary idyl which has left an indelible impression on me.
P.S. I have a regular column in Keswick Life now. I hope you will take a look!!!http://keswicklife.com/2019/06/life-happens-help-the-relatives-are-coming/
Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson