Dreams of childhood are enclosed by a high wrought-iron fence, perhaps not so high for a father who could look over it, but very high for a little girl who might stretch to reach the tips and then settle for a lower peek between the bars.
The gate to the sidewalk at the end of a long paved path was always closed and so were other gates toward the quiet street in back and toward the expanse of lawn where the women bleached their linens on sunny days. The house was set well back from the street in the center of hedges and paths that led to a gazebo or lost themselves in the bushes. Wide steps rose to a stone terrace at its front, and on several levels the delicate grillwork of balconies protruded and even jutted out from the corner turrets. On the opposite side of the street, single family homes in small well-tended gardens were crowded, without gentle transition, by a stark new housing development of small duplexes, which bordered on the sidewalk without a hedge or strip of grass to grace their nakedness. A world apart, devoid of charm, and worlds away from the big house in the parklike garden.
Once the big house had been a resort hotel, and smaller