My brothers and I are among those who cannot, technically, go back to our roots, not without being charged with breaking and entering, anyway. Instead, we go to Longwood.
Since John Boy was 10 or 11, I was six or seven and
Longwood Gardens is the estate of Pierre DuPont (by all means take a look at the website for what it looks like in season, because you sure won’t see it at its best in this post) and I appreciate him setting it all up for my brothers and me. Most people go to Longwood from spring through Christmas, each season having its special displays. Only your die-hard Longwood fans find a reason to show up in the dead of winter when nothing particularly special is going on.
But we’re not really there for the displays, are we now? Oh no. We, after all, are coming home. And it always comes as a surprise to us that the gardens are, in fact, open to the public. What are all these people doing on our lawn? Why are total strangers wandering around our greenhouse? The nerve.
This time, though was a treat. For we finally got to see somethings that we have been curious about ever since we were kids.
Then a trek through Pierce’s Park
through the wisteria arbor until arriving back at the entrance. There must be no deviation from this path lest the gods of memory whack you upside the head with reminding you that when you were 14 you had your first asthma attack on the woodland walk next to the Italian fountains or that one extremely hot July afternoon you and your brothers complained so much your mother growled, “We’re never taking you three anywhere ever again, forever!”
Since some of these memories are very very old, they are also very very exaggerated, as we found with
This is what
After consulting maps, this is what we found:
Ah well. It is a bench…
Then finally, the conservatory. As always, the conservatory is beautiful and just about all of it is open to the public. And, as much as it’s been my favorite part of going to Longwood, ever since I was little I would peek through the one-way mirrored doors in the back where I had read a ballroom was located.
Each visit I’d press against the glass. I could never see the whole room, but could catch glimpses of materials; a parquet floor, ornate plaster or a bit of taffeta on the walls. As a little girl I wanted to tap dance on the parquet and sneak into the glamorous balls given
by my wealthy parents, dazzling everyone with how clever I was before being whisked off to bed by my frazzled governess. When I was a teenager I imagined myself in red satin waltzing gracefully around this beautiful room reflected in the gleaming wood floor. I vowed this was where I would live and give huge parties, bringing this whole decadent lifestyle back
into vogue. I’d bring back the Dusenburg
Eventually, though, I would have to back up from the glass, turn around and behold my fellow tourists in the clunky sneakers and tacky t-shirts, pushing their sticky toddlers through my conservatory, snapping, “You’ll see the damn fountains when I say you can see the damn fountains.”
So much for romance.
So finally, the conservatory.
The ballroom is open!
We look at each other, mouths agape, then hurry to the back. Breathless with anticipation we enter and…
What are all these people doing in my ballroom? This is my dream come true. Why are they ruining it with their clunky sneakers and sticky toddlers? GET OUT!
Still, the room itself does not disappoint. I’m not sure our carpenter Tony is going to appreciate the changes I’ve decided to make to the bathroom at the new house, though…
And imagine how many dogs you could fit at
Editor's Note: A mighty thanks to Dirtman who gamely followed the siblings around as Sisiggy and her brothers engaged in memories he had no part in and talked about people he didn't know. Yet he was still nice enough to take pictures when asked. Sisiggy can only apologize and remind him that this is what it is like for her during every conversation he has where they live, which also happens to be where he grew up. Dirtman has only to drive a half hour and walk into his parents' house to "go home." Only they don't have as many fountains. But their yard is very nice.