I briskly walk up the long gravel path, through the woods, that lead to the pond. Paloma, my old black lab mutt, always nearby, keeping pace with my steps, either leading ahead or trailing behind, distracted by the millions of incredible scents available to her now. As I reach the top of the hill, the sun miraculously peeks through, almost knowing we’ve arrived. I stop a moment and watch Paloma basque in the glow, silhouetted by the blinding rays that peek through the trees. The woods surrounding the pond are usually dense but the trees are becoming bare, allowing the sight of the golf coarse and a few neighboring homes to become visible. This pond is still hidden enough though, secluded from any roadways, making it a hidden gem.
I walk along a smaller gravel path that encircles the pond. I glance towards the geese and ducks the make their homes there, examining the patterns their bodies make, as scattered shapes on the water’s surface. Eventually, I come to another small dirt path that leads to the small stone Teahouse. On a nearby stone there is a rock with a metal plaque. The plaque explains that the Teahouse was part of a large estate built in 1905. It was owned at one time by a family from Irvington NY and then later became the property of the village. When the village owned it many of the citizen’s volunteered time, money and resources to restore it back to it’s original splendor. At times I like to think about how this place might have been back in 1905. The women in their big dresses and perfect hair maybe even a parasol or two, me in my sneakers and old jeans.
The main part of the Teahouse is slightly dark inside. Something about it feels so grand- its stature still seems to suit this place perfectly but I can see through the cracks and chipped pieces of rock that it is aged a bit now. The stone structure seems strong yet there are parts that are crumbling, concrete and wood planks used to reinforce the walls and ceiling. I can tell this small structure has withstood numerous storms over the years. As I walk through I look towards the arched windows that let the outside in. I eventually reach an arched doorway that leads to a terrace. I walk out onto a long, wide terrace that jets out into the pond. I can feel the warm morning sun drenched on my face.
I look out from the terrace onto the pond and down at the geese. Their honking start and stop frequently, the sounds overlap with the other more subtle sounds on the pond, a few ducks and some other birds. It is clear the geese are communicating with one another, my mind races to the language they might be speaking- how they are yelling to each other about when they will take off. The drama intensifies, as they get closer to taking off. I can feel them getting ready as their honks get closer together, louder and more intense. Finally, the geese build momentum from the water’s surface and take off. Eventually they are up over the trees. In a few seconds they are past the pond and out of sight completely. I am grateful to have experienced this, to watch them take their place in the sky above.
After the geese leave the pond I realize I must be heading back as well, but instead I linger just a bit longer on the terrace, trying to take in every bit of the warm sun on my face. I notice a man in a dark brown coat walking his dog in the distance. He seems to walk slowly. I might catch up with him on the way out but I don’t want to see anyone today, no conversations, not even if it is just “Hello”. I want to be alone in this space. I decide to stay on the terrace a bit longer, until he is no longer in sight. I notice that I can see the hill by the golf coarse. Usually its covered by the leaves on the trees but today it’s clearer. The sun is piercing through a section of branches, blurring and fragmenting the forms. I squint to try and make sense of these shapes but the sun is so strong that it seems to burn through that whole section of the hill.
The pond is glassy now that the geese have left. Their bodies created different textures on the surface of the pond but now I can see the reflection of the horizon mirrored perfectly. Paloma is starting to dig as some rocks and weeds in the corner of the terrace so I decide that we should head back. I walk toward the entryway and out through the main section of the teahouse, down the small path that eventually leads me to the larger gravel path. As I head down the hill I think about how the Tea house was my temporary home for just a few minuets, a place to take refuge and a place to notice another world go by- another vantage point from up above.
I walk briskly downhill with Paloma, my fateful companion of 14 years. The incline feels steep at times and I know even the dog has to take some steps slowly. I continue down toward the car and click open the doors with the remote button on the key. I look for my iphone to make sure it’s still in my pocket. I open the back door for the dog but she just sits there in front of the door looking at me and then looking at the seat in front of her, it’s clear she’s not sure about her own ability to jump up on the seat now that she’s old. I keep repeating “inside” over and over, eventually my voice gets louder. Minuets go by and finally she jumps up into the car. I pet her a few times and say “good girl”, feeling bad about rushing her. I get in the drivers seat then roll down a window in the back for the dog, as I do so I can hear the last bit of geese honking in the distance, in the sky above.