I went to Michigan last week. Although, as it turned out, I'm pretty sure I wound up in England.
(All photos of Cranbrook House and grounds by LBG.)
Every evening when the clouds turned lavender and the sun began its slow heavy descent, my brother, his wife and I would gather up our children and cross an invisible border into a magical 19th century world. No sooner would we turn the corner from my mother's mid-century home than we would enter another land...one that goes by the name of Cranbrook.
First we would pass by this well-kept stone cottage with a blue slate roof and tapered chimney tucked into a thick glade of trees. (I'm pretty sure if I knocked on the door Trollope would answer.)
(Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. July, 2012.)
Then we would wander over to this Arcadian pond situated on a gentle rise that spilled over into a hillside waterfall...
...and walk through this village of buildings of higher learning with charmingly painted casement windows and ivy-clad walls.
A Tudor-style manor house (it dates from 1904) lay at the bottom of the garden. As we approached, we couldn't help but feel a palpable warmth emanating from it -- if walls could talk, I'm sure we would be able to hear the ghostly clinking of glasses and strains of laughter floating out onto the lawn.
Up this staircase...
...and past this fountain...
..were the walled gardens. This little one had ancient branches trained up its walls, a darling blue painted door and a slightly shaggy appearance...
...while this one was nothing less than a well-coiffed feast for the eyes.
I never tired of seeing this little building. Those enormous windows make me want to set up an art studio. Design-wise, it has a little bit of everything going on -- red bricks, variegated stone wall, Greek columns, metal casement windows, green copper gutters -- but all the materials work together perfectly. (As Lady Crawley says in Vanity Fair, "I adore imprudent matches!")
Like all magical destinations, it was time to go home all too soon.