I want a house with a bridge. A bridge I’d have to drive over every time I came and went. I want a house with a bridge where the water flows swiftly under it during summer thunderstorms and the spring snowmelt. A bridge with an uneven surface that makes the ride bumpy. I want a house with a bridge so I can stand in the middle and lean my elbows on the railing and watch the water travel beneath me and throw sticks and leaves and run to the other side and watch them get carried downstream.
I want a bridge like this.
Val-Kill was Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s informal home a couple of miles from their estate, Springwood. It was the only place Eleanor could call her own and it is the only National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady.
“Val-Kill is where I used to find myself and grow. At Val-Kill I emerged as an individual.”
This spring we walked over the bridge and wandered around the property. The cottage and studio weren’t open yet for visitors and we were short on time but oh how I wish we’d had time.
Local folks were heading to the trails. Volunteers and park employees were busy working on the property. We chatted with a volunteer who was trimming bushes who was disappointed we couldn’t stay until the tours began so he stopped and took us around and told us what he knew and apologized for not knowing more. He’d fallen in love with the place. He left us at the empty swimming pool on the side of Stone Cottage where a man was standing in the middle of it working. The pool is being restored. He beamed when he told us he’d been working at Val-Kill for 26 years and how he’d met many dignitaries who’d visited over the years. He seemed to also have fallen in love with Val-Kill.
Now I think I’m in love with it too. Or surely the idea of it. People who find the place they love are lucky people. We are even luckier to experience it for a brief visit and for it to be taken care of by people who love it. I liked it so much, I even think I’d like a house with a bridge.