Monday, August 22, 2011
Time of Year
Come late August I think of the many times my parents would rent a home in Carmel, just blocks up from the beach. They would rent the home for a month and stay for a week, come home for a few days or week and then head back. They would invite us to come for a weekend during their stay and with the passage of time I fell in love with the home.
It was called Steel-A-Way and my parents knew the woman who owned it. The variety of home styles in Carmel has changed over the years, thankfully they have a building code in place that you cannot demolish a home that is over 50 years old. Unfortunately before that was in place many charming homes were "remodeled" or torn down to put some mega home on a tiny lot. You can easily tell the new homes from the historic old homes even if they did try to "charm" them up.
Steel-A-Way has a sunny location since it doesn't have any trees on the lot. This can be good or bad but to me it gives it an English Cottage look with it's dutch style front door, thick shake high pitched roof and multi-pane windows. In August the Dahlias are blooming out front. The western sea breeze brings the sound of the crashing waves to our ears, the foggy mornings that give way to brilliant blue skies, and the peaceful quiet of the neighborhood. We use to wish we owned the old home because of the tranquility.
As a child we lived quite close to Carmel and often would go to the beach on a weekend or just a drive along the beach in the late afternoon to maybe catch the sunset. Sometimes it was a bucket of Colonel Sanders at Mission Beach and a climb on the rocks nearby. Other times my mom and I with some other lady friends would go into Carmel town for a bit of shopping in the tiny little shops. That was when the shops were unique and no T-Shirt shops in sight. Still I love to walk up and down the narrow paths that wind between some of the art galleries that are off the main street of Ocean Ave. That is where it feels most like the Carmel I remember. I like it after dark when the tourist have left and you walk almost all alone, pausing to look at the art hanging in the windows, or going inside to look around and talk with the art dealers. I like a walk on the beach when the sand has turned cool between my toes. That white sand so fine in texture that dusts your feet. To feel the pound that settles around you as you watch the crash of the waves rhythmically pull back and fall forward. To walk along the street that follows the curve of the shore for an evening stroll, greeting the passer-byers, many with their dogs of more breeds than you normally see in one location. We look at all the homes and talk about how we like this house or that, what has been done to that one or how neglected another might look. Carmel off of Ocean Ave. is truly quiet with mostly those who live there taking the ritual walk morning and night.
Steel-A-Way....stole my heart because it will forever remind me of Papa. Not because of any other reason than when we came he was delighted to see us. We always would take the drive to Rocky's Point close to Big Sur, for a glorious sunset and a dinner where we could look at the ocean below. The wind would whip around us while we were outside and to look at Papa's face at those times was like feeling at home. Nothing else mattered.
He would putter around the house during the day fixing this or that, talking about how much work needed to be done here. He liked to putter. Inside the garage was the old surrey. Some years it was in better shape than other years. My Love and he would work on getting it in some state of running order so whomever wanted to take it out for a ride could. Up and down the long driveway the surrey would go, sometimes out on the street. The surrey was as much a part of that home and I could never imagine it not being there when we would open the garage. I think I would even ask Papa before a visit if the surrey was in the garage. That last time it was getting pretty rickety.
Inside the home was a large beamed ceiling living room with a big fireplace at the far end. French doors (that were never opened oddly) flanked the inner rear courtyard in the back. Opposite the living room was the dining room, which we ate at when we all were together in the evening. Through the swinging door you entered the large bright kitchen. There was a small breakfast table and a large kitchen island long before most normal homes had them. We always served up on it buffet style. Between the dining room and living room the hallway went straight back to a cozy den / tv room that had a card table that many a game of scrabble or puzzle was done at. There was a bedroom with two twin beds in the door to the left after the den. Our daughters would sleep in there. Two on the beds and perhaps someone in a sleeping bag. A tiny guest bathroom attached inside the room. At the end of the hall was the master bedroom with a large bathroom with a tv above the tub so you could watch when you took a bath. The girls loved that. The master bedroom was sunny and light during the day with several large windows.
My Love and I slept in the petite cottage out the side door from the den in the courtyard. It always had a musty mildew smell inside. Two twin beds and a tv filled the room with a tall highboy. It had a very nice bathroom that stayed cozy warm after a shower. We often would leave the door open during the day to air the room out as it had an old squeaky screen door. Most all the years we stayed here we had a Sheltie or two with us, Heidi, Tess and or Jesse who came later. They loved the brick courtyard with the pastel flower beds and ivy beds surrounding the parameter. Rose trees and a birdbath were here and there. Outdoor was a table with chairs and lounge chairs to actually soak up some mild warm sunshine.
Steel-A-Way.....we only have been there once after my Papa passed away, with my mom. It was different without him. She had rented it for the month of September a couple of years after Papa had passed away. A mistake for her. I think she only visited twice. She was not in a good frame of mind when she had us visit as well as some dear family friends. It was awkward and unpleasant. My family went without her another weekend and enjoyed ourselves though for that weekend for the first time my Love and I slept in the master bedroom. I secretly wanted to be in the cottage. I don't remember who slept in there.
Thank goodness for those waves that pounded in my ears and heart that trip.
We have not stayed there since that time. My mom never rented the home again. She just couldn't go back. Too many memories of the man she loved so much. My Love and I whenever we visit Carmel have always driven or walked by Steel-A-Way. I still dream of owning it......