Sunday, January 13, 2013

...About Adventure One: The Mount.

The Mount is, without a doubt, one of my favorite places in the whole world.  It has numerous beautiful and mysterious qualities, which I will list below:

-It's a mansion.  Mansions are my favorite.
-It was built and occupied by a writer, Edith Wharton.
-It was built in 1902 and is therefore old, historic, and important.

A fork in the road on the forest path that leads to the mansion.
-It is supposedly haunted and this intrigues me to no end.
-It is buried somewhere in the woods in Lenox, MA  (you cannot see this wonderful, wonderful house from the road).
-On the second floor at the back of the house is one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen.

And so, all of the above qualities = Nicole's imagination on fire.

Although the mansion, stables, and bookstore are closed to the public right now, The Mount still welcomes visitors to tour the grounds.  Matt and I have been to The Mount three times, three Octobers in a row for the nighttime Halloween ghost tours, but we have never been there during the day.  This was the first time.

A view of the stables from the forest.
As I already mentioned above, the Mount was built by author Edith Wharton in 1902 and she lived there with her husband, Teddy Wharton, until 1911.  I suppose part of my fascination of The Mount stems from harmless envy - I, too, would love to be an author who lives in a mansion with a magnificent library (in fact, when I one day own a house, I want an exact replica of Edith Wharton's library, which was based on her own father's library).  And I love to imagine what life would have been like for her all those years, living in such a beautiful, slightly isolated place, surrounded by nothing but trees.  Seriously, it must have been the best place to concentrate and write!

Matt and I arrived during the last hour of the morning and parked down near the mansion.  We got out and immediately began our walk around the grounds.  Although I was slightly anxious, not dressed warm enough, and paranoid about falling down, I enjoyed myself immensely.  To map out our entire walk in a very quick fashion: we walked down a random path into the woods to greet a dead end, strolled up to the stables and snapped some photos of the front and back, and made our way back down to the mansion.  An employee drove by us as we walked and although I was too busy trying to look busy and not suspicious, Matt informed me that he waved.

As we continued down the road, the mansion became visible through the trees (as you can see in the picture to the left).  We had walked this road many a time before at night with a group and somewhere to the left, there is a pet cemetery, where Edith Wharton's dogs are buried.  I wanted to try to find it but there was no path leading to it and the gravestones were most likely buried in snow.

The winding road through the trees that leads to the mansion is one of my favorite things about The Mount.  The mansion is almost entirely hidden until you get a first glimpse of it through the trees and it gradually reveals itself as you walk even further.  Although walking along that road and all over the grounds at night in Autumn on Halloween night is unbelievable amounts of fun (for me, at least!), exploring it in the daytime and on our own was a wonderful experience.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that the mansion was closed, but I came fully expecting not to be stepping anywhere inside and only going as far as the doorstep.  In fact, I stepped upon the door step and stared at the wooden door, trying to envision Edith Wharton doing the same.  I didn't dare lay a hand on the door, although I wanted to, for fear of setting off an alarm.  I then turned and made sure to get a photo of the little doorway in the gate that looked back out into the forest.

On the night tours we had been to, we never got to walk around the back of the mansion where the gardens are (it was simply too dark and dangerous).  Even when walking back to the small parking lot at the end of the night, I always tried to look around the building, to see what the gardens looked like and what Edith Wharton would see when she looked out her back windows, but I only saw pitch black. 

I looked forward to seeing what the "backyard" looked like.  Would there be more paths, more of the winding road?  Would there be dense, thick forests surrounding the house?  Would there just be very beautiful, elaborate gardens?

We only went as far as the side of the mansion.  The back consisted of a large hill with shin-deep snow (and I had made the unfortunate choice of wearing sneakers and the thinnest socks imaginable).  But Matt still helped me through some of the less dramatic drifts of snow and I was able to look out in the back and see something I hadn't expected.  Beyond the gardens were trees, like I had expected, but there was also rolling hills!  And very far into the distance, it looked like there were more large houses.
Although happy to make this discovery, I was still hit with another pang of longing to go into the mansion and look around, but instead I busied myself with memories of walking through three floors of dimly lit halls and rooms on Halloween evenings.

That concluded our adventure for the day.  After an hour of exploring, photo-taking, and re-imagining (as well as searching the dark windows for any signs of ghostly faces!), I came away from the experience very happy indeed.  Matt and I have already planned to take another trip back in April, right before it opens back up to the public in May, so that we can finally journey all the way into the back grounds (that is, if there is not much snow and mud).

Edith Wharton was on my mind almost the entire time.  I thought about how one of the tour guides told us one Halloween how Edith Wharton's bedroom on the third floor looked out upon the pet cemetery, so that she could keep watch over her precious dogs.  On those tours, I would also look out the windows, hoping to see anything - the pet cemetery, ghostly figures, or mountains in the distance.  I would imagine myself spending an evening in her gorgeous library, surrounding by leather-bound volumes and glowing light, and slowly drawing back the long curtains to look out into the dark, letting my imagination soar.
The author emerges from behind a tree!

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed reading your blog! If you like big mansions hidden in the woods, you should come to Manchester, Vermont to Hildene. It's the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln (Abe's son). Beautiful gardens,grounds and tours. Google it! Let me know if you ever go. Our house is two miles away.
    Aunt Diane