Stone Pond and Mount Monadnock, old postcard photograph.

In May 2016, I spent a weekend at Stone Pond cleaning and preparing my inlaws’ family cottage for Writing from Nature, my second annual workshop. I heard a new story from a neighbor. It’s about the giant red mansion next to the house where we’ll be. The history of that next-door house includes writers, a murder, intellectuals, a German refugee who came here to be a gardener after Hitler forced him out of his job as a judge, and the woman who offered him that job, Justine Kershaw, after whom the gravel road Kershaw Avenue is named. A later resident known to most as Mrs. Lodge lived alone summers in that spectacular Victorian mansion. One of the rooms was nicknamed the Porcupine Room, because she allowed a porcupine to come in by a hole, and she fed it. I would have liked watching that, but Mrs. Lodge died years before I first visited this magical area.

The house where our workshop took place is a one-story, long cottage with big windows overlooking the slope down to the lake. It was built on the foundation of the carriage house for the mansion. My inlaws bought the carriage house more than a half-century ago, but it burned down while carpenters were finishing up a renovation. The story goes that after that, my mother-in-law designed the cottage on the back of an envelope. The giant stone fireplace will greet you when you walk in.

The woods, animals, lake, and mountain dwarf anything people built here. Spending time here I am always in conversation with ghosts.

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