To quote, or maybe misappropriate, Thoreau: I have travelled extensively within the confines of Saratoga. Since those early days of mine in this town, I have explored almost every nook and alley and carriage-house lane and corner of this city I chose to live in. Yet there are still new sights (and sites) to see around here, and I never get tired of noting the changes, or things I haven’t yet noticed. These days my walking (and driving) are real estate-related, as opposed to the random meandering of my early 20’s in this town.
Whereas the great but short-lived Transcendentalist found his bailiwick in Concord, Massachusetts– alongside a still-wild 1845 pond in the rolling lands west of Boston–my recurrent focus is and has been on the upstate valley of the Kayderosseras, as the Mohawks called it. As with some of the best small urban scenes in America, the natural setting has been preserved enough, at least in places,
I was thinking this again last Friday, as my assistant Holly and I re-visited one of my listings on the westside of this now finally-blooming city, albeit on one chilly late April day. The owners had told me when we listed their place back in early February that I was going to be amazed at how the then-stark yard behind the stockade fence was going to blossom and dazzle me once everything flowered and grew out to full foliage. Friday the 27th was that day. We returned to take some photos, but it would’ve taken all afternoon to absorb all the color that was there, especially the brilliant periwinkle blue of forget-me-nots. There was no mown lawn, only a path through the wildflowers and ornamental trees. Their yard had been stark and stick-like only 2 weeks before– buds on the trees then but no flowers, no notable brightness or hue yet. Now it was dazzling.
This is not to emphasize or promote any one home I am dealing with in this Saratoga Springs spring market… but to say that you and me and everyone else would not even know this type of “urban courtyard” as I called it, existed –unless it was on the market. The same people have owned this home for more than 36 years, and it hadn’t been exposed to public view before. For aficiandoes of such botanical attractions, there is something in Saratoga that my wife and hundreds of locals love called The Secret Garden Tour. (Sponsored by the Soroptimists of Saratoga County, and being held in early July, I believe.) This parcel, behind a stockade barrier on a well-travelled road, would qualify as an example of such a place. You realize there are “mini-environments” behind fences or hidden behind arbor vitae or shielded by barns or garages or whatever that are representative of “native Saratoga” that you don’t normally notice by zipping around in a car, and sometimes not even if you walk. But real estate offerings give a glimpse into such worlds now and then, one thing I love about the business. It’s a microcosm of aesthetics in a given space. Later we were looking at a summer rental for someone and realized one of the neighbors had another one of those yards that only about ten people in the proximity has ever seen– all overgrown but a thing of beauty anyway. All I ask of each workday is to see something I didn’t know was there before. This city, thankfully, continues to provide surprises, even after a quarter century in business here and 35 yrs of living, and walking here.
As a respite from routine, and in search of new spiritual skills and insights, I took part in a group training session in Wilton that same weekend, and spent a lot of time enjoying a similarly tranquil, bucolic scene out the gorgeous back windows of a house addition that looked onto a wooded area backdrop, with coy pond, waterfall, and birds galore in the foreground. I felt so peaceful there by the time I left my friend’s (and teacher’s) home. Serenity is wherever you find it, or create it, even in some versions of tract-home suburbia around here.
April 28-29 was Open House week across America and I’m sure some interesting places were available to see locally…but as a non-fan of the open house part of the business, I took the weekend to pursue other avenues…so to speak. Having viewed homes about five and a half days a week for 20+ years, I need to sometimes NOT see homes too, and… usually by either Saturday or Sunday, want to retreat to my own. I tell myself I will be refreshed as May begins in the coming week, though a bit wind-burned from the northern gusts that pounded us– my son and me working and mowing in the yard, my wife working to prep the seasonal gardens of our own. I wish you well if you were out looking for a home that weekend… I was following Voltaire’s admonition to Tend One’s Own Garden, by re-experiencing mine, at home.