adventures back in time

I realized I hadn't posted about my recent trip to Chelsea Plantation for a friend's going-away party (she is moving to Egypt!).   Chelsea -- or the house at least -- dates to 1709, with an addition a few years later.  Currently, it sits on 700 (!) acres on the Mattaponi River, though that is downsized from probably about 5000.   What's fascinating about Chelsea is that clearly it's an 18th century plantation that was lived in throughout the years, because it has additions: a boathouse, gazebo, greenhouse, pool - that all date to the 1930s and 40s.

These are all tucked away around the grounds -- the back of the house is a maze of overgrown boxwood that left about 8 inches of room to walk through.   Since it had rained, every time we walked through, drips of water from the boxwood leaves left trails across our dresses.   We explored the boxwood, which hides people quite well -- and found tiny cottages to live in, statues, and a croquet lawn.

back of the house

Further on the property, there is a gazebo by the water, and quite possibly the most Atonement-esque element, was the 1930s spring-fed swimming pool.  Beautiful.  Right above the water.  Clear.  12' deep.  Diving board.  I can barely express how delicious it was to dive in.  

Of course, we had been told about the pool previously, and I was excited, as I had a retro-ish swimsuit to wear, but, of course I forgot it.  Fortunately, I had brought a halter top polka dot dress that already feels like a swimsuit, so we pinned up the sides so it fell to the tops of my thighs, and it looked like a retro suit.  It felt fabulous and ever-so-apropos for the pool.

pool of dreams!

From there, we moved down to the river, where there was a boathouse that was looking worse for wear due to hurricane Isabel.  A dock led down almost to the doors, but the hurricane had wiped out the last 5 feet (it seemed like something out of a Myst game), so we slipped into the (surprisingly warm) water and swam into the depths of the boathouse.  We scrambled back up onto the decks, which looked haphazardly stacked at strange angles inside, and looked out the windows that no longer had their bottom panes.   Heaven.

the boathouse

After the sun set, we ran through the boxwood and towards the abandoned greenhouse, overgrown and dark and mysterious.  It was magical.  Darkened sky, quiet, and etherial.  I'd give anything to go back.

For more photos - interestingly, pre-hurricane - look here.  Beautiful.

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