The Most Beautiful Place. Period.
Reminiscences on a home I'm about to leave...
I once read a book called The Most Beautiful House in the World by a Canadian architecture faculty member who taught at McGill University. His name was/is Witold Rybczynski. I'll give you the link to his book here, mainly because it made such strong impressions on me some 20 years ago when I poured through its pages that still hold true today.
But this is not about his house, it's about my house. It's for sale, and I'm about to leave it. We're downsizing to pave the way for the next family that wants to live in this stunningly-beautiful place with many hundreds of conserved acres of land, farm, field, woods, and more right out the back door, while the front of the house is placed right in the middle of the Town in Lyme, NH. Access to some of the best restaurants in the region has been ours for the taking within a minute or two walk, as well as being able to fetch a gallon of milk, or the best egg sandwich anywhere (see my previous article on "The Best Breakfast Sammy" by clicking Here), or farm-fresh eggs from a number of spots within a quick walk of our front door. And, to top this all off, we have trails, many dozens of kilometers of them, to XC ski, mountain bike, hike, snowshoe, walk, birdwatch, and otherwise enjoy as nature's bounty thrusts itself at us all four seasons of every year with grace and beauty!
Our "back forty." Conserved. Hayed. Beautiful!
This morning, I walked out into the 20-acre conserved field that abuts our back yard. It was a perfect morning to walk the dogs, and, to my surprise, the field had just been hayed yesterday. I missed it while at work in White River Junction at Long River Gallery & Gifts, once a Lyme fixture for 25 years, but it recently moved to WRJ this past April. Busy is an understatement, and at the end of a Saturday I wasn't watching the field for haying. The tractor was back out as I walked today, and my dogs were having a ball just pushing their way through the newly-mown hay. It had to be a veritable dog's delight of smells, textures, and the warmth of the morning sun beaming down. I waved to the tractor driver as he slowed for our chocolate lab who just had to dally a bit too long in the tractor's path. The driver waved back with a sure smile. He knew all about dogs, that was pretty clear.
The backyard view.
I was stunned at the beauty of this place. Yes, it's for sale, and I know we'll be moving soon, but I reminisced fondly upon all the great times I'd had with my wife and two children, the dogs, through summer, winter, spring, and fall out in this field and the hundreds of acres of conserved land spreading to our north from here. Some photos are below to help you get some sense of what I felt. Of course, as the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz might suggest in a poem, the mere sight of something can never convey the true feeling of seeing it. It can't saturate us like being within the real. It can only reflect something back to us. So, we need to jump in, take the walk with the dogs, kick the hay as it lays on the ground before it's baled. Smell the freshly-mown sweetness of the fields. Relish the sunshine dripping through the branches of the forested hillsides as we look to the north, east, and west.
Apple tres bear fruit. Blueberry bushes just picked. Oh, and the views of forest and field. A stunning day every day here!
Of course, I also marvel at this town I still call home for a little while longer—until our home sells, that is. I marvel because stepping out the front door places me in the middle of the vibrant Town of Lyme, NH, its Town Common, its Little Town Common, and all the attendant amenities and pleasures these bring with them. Three wonderful restaurants. A country store. Lawyers (well, okay, sometimes they come in handy in a pinch). A realtor. A beauty salon. Two banks. A wonderful hardware store. A post office. UPS and FedEx pick up. And, even high-speed wireless for those in desperate need. It's a town center unlike others, with its Norman Rockwell-esque views in winter of children ice skating on the flooded Town Common. Spring bouquets of flowering apple blossoms on the Little Town Common. The Lyme Town Band serenading the town during the summer months, and a monthly farmers market the last Saturday of each month that brings all kinds of vendors out to sell their goods, wares, craft, and foods. Oh, and did I mention the two inns that welcome travelers from near and far, and Loch Lyme Lodge across from Post Pond, the Town's riparian resource for everything from fishing and swimming to rowing, paddling, and ice fishing?
Our garden grows lush every year at this time. Garlic ready to be harvested. Tomatoes and basil abound.
All of this is the stuff of which the best of memories are made. The people of Lyme are the most welcoming and warm bunch imaginable, and they'll treat you like family (for better of worse!) within a few short days of your arrival. The quirky "Lymies" (as we're called) abound, and they/we make life in this special little town all the more fun and exciting. And the Lyme School, with teachers who love this place as much as anyone, have turned this community school of K - 8 into one of the best, if not the best, places to get educated in the State of NH. Think Maypole Dance on the Town Common with a fiddler and flute, and you'll get the fullest sense of this little, hard-working, multi-dimensional town that has enthralled its inhabitants and visitors alike for many, many generations. Even the Lyme Library has its act totally together with sleepovers and after-school programs for kids, exciting learning workshops for adults, and fine art shows for everyone.
Almost like it might for a character in a Melville novel, this place has provided solace, excitement, adventure, and growth. It's prevented me from falling off the edge of the earth. Helped me to "drive off the spleen and regulate the circulation," much as "taking to the sea" did for Ishmael in Moby Dick.
Back to The Most Beautiful House in the World and Mr. Rybczynski, its author...
One thing I learned from the book is that there should be ceilings of differing heights within a home that emulate the forest canopy above your head when walking out in the woods. This allows you to feel like you're part of the grand outdoors even when you're inside your home. Our current home, for all its amazing outside and in-town features, also has the stuff of an architect's dreams inside. A window seat facing south for sun that the most demanding of cats would savor. Ceilings of differing heights to get that great natural feel as you walk from room to room. Vibrant colors that pull together in an arts & crafts-esque style, yet with wonderful antiqued granite kitchen counters that are as textured and soft as any long-weathered beach stone under the toe. I'll miss it all.
Better than a dog's life on a sunny day with a roll in the hay. That's what this place means to me.
Much better than a dog's life. In our back yard by the mudroom entrance.
Still living in Lyme for a little while longer. Write if you want more info on the really cool and under-the-radar places around here to walk, hike, swim, paddle, row, fish, eat, kibbitz, run/swim the dogs, or ride a bike while this summer is still with us. That's what the Comments section below is all about.
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