She stands facing the pale, windswept bay, tall and erect as the ancient redwoods poking through the shroud of fog folding over the mountain range behind her. They loom in the distance like a pack of protective brothers, chanting in the blustering gale, You’re not alone. We’ve got your back.
Their mantra strokes the tips of the young woman’s button ears red while strands of raven locks swirl about her head, whipped free from the tight braid trailing down her slender back. The beauty swipes at the rebellious tendrils with the back of one hand, while clutching a tattered knit shawl to her heart with the other.
The weary maiden pulls the wrap tight, but the comfort and warmth it once afforded is now akin to her lover’s embrace. Non-existent. Cold. At least, for now…
She shudders. Dealing with the loss would be far easier if her hopes of his return would wither, die, be swept from her heart and tossed to the wind. But unlike the rose, plucked, dried, and pressed into the book of love poems he’d given her on the anniversary of their first kiss, the woman struggles to stay alive amidst a whirlwind of memories, broken promises, and disintegrating dreams.
For now, she waits, longing for the page to turn and reveal her lover’s return so that they may begin a new chapter, “A life together. Until death do us part.”
Ever since moving to California seven years ago, that is the picture I see when I catch a glimpse of, what I have only just discovered a few weeks ago is, the Lyford House.
When you drive along the main road, bits of the one-hundred-fifty year old Victorian will peek from behind a row of grey two-story condos hiding it from passersby, or if you’re walking along the old railroad tracks at the edge of Richardson Bay, now a paved path for bikers, runners, and walkers, you’ll catch a glimpse of the weathered building through the trees, just beyond younger houses dotting the quiet cove. If you have the opportunity to be on a boat, you’d catch it in its entirety perched on a low cliff in the crook of the peninsula. Not necessarily imposing in size, the house begs its story be told.
It turns out, my tale is not too far from the truth.
In 1876, the founders of the Eagle Dairy Ranch, Benjamin and Hilarita Lyford built their house across the inlet from where it stands today. Their son fell in love with the daughter of Portuguese immigrants who worked for the family. A romance between the two was deemed out of the question, so in 1918 the young man gave Rose Rodrigues da Fonta the house and eleven acres of bay front property as a token of his love. Rosie did eventually end up marrying and living on the property for the rest of her life. For a more detailed account of the history, press HERE.
In 1957, (you’ve got to see this) the house was moved to its present day location where the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary oversees it, promoting continuing education, preservation, and conservation.
I’m still surprised at how close to the true emotional story my fabrication is without ever knowing the history of the house and its inhabitants. It’s proof to me that love is powerful. It can embed itself in the things we wear, touch, live in, thus defying even the test of time.
Don’t you agree?
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