Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our Visit to Beekman

A year ago last April, I logged on to a relatively unknown website called “Beekman 1802.” One of the first images I saw on the site was this magnificent home (er.. mansion). Visually, it took my breath away. While looking at the photographs, I was muttering words like “stunning,” “incredible,” “amazing.”

Fast forward one year, one month and a few days… The GPS was telling me “you’re within .5 miles of your destination.” And again, “you’re within .2 miles of your destination.” It was then, I saw the magnificent mansion with my own eyes.. “There it is!” I screamed, pointing out my window and nearly causing David to go into the ditch. We had arrived at the Beekman mansion. There is a plaque posted near the roadside to let passersby know that indeed, this was the place.

As we pulled into the driveway even David was taken in by the beauty of the amazing structure. “this place is f---g beautiful!” (he has such a way with words) We parked in the circular gravel driveway and I just took in the view for a few seconds. As I sat there staring, I was breathless at the beauty around me. Because the Beekman 1802 website featured so many pictures of the grounds during the course of the year, it actually felt very familiar to me. Mentally, I was just putting it all together.

“Are we getting out of the car?” David asked with that significant hint of sarcasm. “uh, yeah.. out of the car.. “ I replied. We stepped out of the car and I completely resisted the urge to just run as fast as I could down the hill, spinning, and twirling about like a sick mix of Julie Andrews and Forest Gump. The land just beckoned you to come and play. I’m so glad I resisted… As I turned, I saw Josh walking up from near the barn, coming to greet us. I introduced myself and introduced David. With a warm hug, Josh welcomed us to Beekman. Again, there was an odd sense of familiarity in meeting Josh. As we were exchanging our hellos, Brent pulled into the driveway. After another round of introductions and friendly hugs we were off for a tour of the house.

As we entered from the side door, the beautiful piano grounds the space. The beautiful Beekman linens (a gift to Brent and Josh) were placed on the corner of the piano.

Moving to the right, you come to the formal living room

While you would expect such a grand home to be filled with furniture and period pieces, the Beekman is decorated in a minimalist style. In doing so, you gain a greater appreciation for the mansions beautiful architecture. On Sunday morning, I was the first one up and about, and took in the early morning quiet just sitting in this room for a while.

As you exit the room, you actually come into the grand foyer of the house. Free of furnishings, you’re taken in by the large space. The floors give notice when someone is approaching with that delightful ‘creaking’ sound.

From where I was standing which was at the base of the stairs facing the front door, the room to the left is the formal dining room and the room to the right is the living room. (which is shown above) Unfortunately, my picture of the dining room did not process correctly so I’m unable to show it to you! In the foyer there is the reminder of young Mary Beekman. Her name is carved into the floor.

We’ll head up the stairs next to see the second floor…

As you approach the top of the stairs you’re taken in by the large window and the two elegant chairs that face it. A simple, modern Lucite table almost disappears from view.

Just out of view in the first picture, carved duck figures guard (or play on) the second floor. I fell in love with the ducks. They are a bit of the unexpected when arriving on the second floor. What an excellent design element and demonstrates the playful side of Josh and Brent.

There are numerous bedrooms at the Beekman. The room on the right was our room for the weekend. I do apologize that our bags and things were visible in the picture!

Another bedroom and a beautiful writing space

One of my favorite spaces in the house was the kitchen. The large space was functional, beautiful and comfortable. The lighting over the table was designed by Josh.

The antique scale (below) found near the fireplace in the kitchen is wonderful find. The picture on the right is showing the Beekman linens.

As we headed outdoors, the view from the steps on the back porch was amazing. As you overlook the formal flower garden you see hills of green. I could have sat on the porch for hours on end.

Josh asked if I wanted to see the crypt. Of course I did! We headed down the hill to the crypt. A beautiful bleeding heart was cascading down the right side of the stone wall. As Josh opened the door to the crypt, it was at first kind of creepy… but, I’m not one to just stand outside and look.. I had to go in!

Inside, there were numerous old head stones, and even bones that had been un-earthed. There was a piece of a coffin top that had been placed back into the crypt. What was at first creepy, turned into something quiet, peaceful, and calm. The chandelier that hangs in the center of the crypt became the perfect nesting place for a bird. The bird must have had some design sense… because it looked as if the nest had been part of the crypt for years.

A beautiful red bleeding heart cascades down one side of the crypt entrance. A large monument stands near the entry to the peaceful sanctuary.

Next stop, the barn and the goats! The goats are cared for by Farmer John (whom I met briefly while looking for a shovel) and it’s obvious that he loves these beautiful animals and they love him. It was interesting to watch the goats follow Farmer John when he was on the tractor. As he pulled out into the field, the goats would follow him. As he returned to the barn, they would follow.

There are also turkeys on the farm. I shudder to think what will happen come November.

An addition to the goat herd was a Llama by the name Polka-Spot. BEAUTIFUL animal. Did you know that Llamas were used to herd goats? I had no clue. I learned something new! (go ahead, use that piece of trivia.. impress your friends) Polka-Spot loved the camera. Brent mentioned that he thought perhaps the black lens when held to your face reminded her of other Llamas. Could be.. or Polka-Spot needs some serious vision correction! In the picture below right, Brent and Polka-Spot seem to be focused in on the same thing... what are they looking at?

Look at that face. How could you not love that face?

To the left of the barn, was the raised Beekman heirloom vegetable garden. Bed after bed. With the season just starting, a few things were popping up. For anyone that loves to vegetable garden, using a raised bad is the way to go. It’s a bit easier on your back too when you need to weed

Alright.. so the tour was complete. There were other things to see, but work needed to be done! David went with Josh and I went with Brent for our tasks at hand.

I became a bit worried at this point. David is NOT a gardener. David saw his job as keeping Josh company while Josh pulled weeds from the raised beds. Now, if something needed to be repaired, David was the man… but a recent visit by Josh’s parents left no projects to be worked on. So, David chit chatted while Josh cared for the vegetables.
In the picture below, the buds on the poppy plants were just huge! I hope Brent and Josh will take pictures of the poppies in bloom. David was amazed at the size of the dandelions that were found here and there. He made several comments about them. They were pretty big! David's job at home is to make sure not a dandelion one exists in the yard. I think these over sized plants were scaring him!

Brent and I headed to the formal garden. WHEW! Now, there was some work to be done! I poked fun at Brent, telling him that there was a serious need for some edging! (it’s the Margaret Roach side of me..) “Have at it..” was his reply. So, I did. On hands and knees, I moved through a part of the garden pulling weeds, grasses, catnip, etc. and finally shaping a bit of a border.

While I moved slower, I liked Brent’s way of tackling the weeds… find a particular type of weed and focus on that one weed… move about the garden and remove all that you see. Then, move on to the next type of weed. He accomplished much more than I did. The picture on the right shows my bit of edging. While I accomplished more than the picture shows, I feel I didn't accomplish enough to be useful.

The time in the garden with Brent gave us the opportunity to talk and get to know each other a bit. You have to admit, that visiting for a weekend with someone you really don’t know outside of emails, television appearances, and radio appearances can be a little odd. It was a great time to talk and begin to know the ‘real’ person and not the professional persona. Both Brent and Josh are just ‘regular’ people. Very down to earth, very humble people. You can’t spend time with either of them and not instantly love them. David commented as we were getting ready for bed Saturday night that he really liked both of them and felt instantly comfortable with them. I felt the same. I felt as if a part of me had known them for years and years while there was still this discovery of meeting someone new and learning about them.

After a trip into Sharon Springs for a tour of the city and lunch at the Black Cat Cafe and a visit to the American Hotel (that will be a future blog post) We went back to the farm for more work. It was time to plant 4,000 sunflower seeds! David helped Brent and I with this task. In the picture on the left, you can see the little "speck" which is David casting seeds. The rows were LONG! From the kitchen window, you'll be able to look out and see the field of sunflowers. I can't wait to see it all in bloom! After a job well done, Brent heads back up the hill to the house.

Brent recently celebrated a birthday. I had asked Josh what Brent's favorite cake was and he told me carrot cake. I made one and brought it with us. I think he liked it! The top of the cake was decorated with whole pecans. Slice size was determined by the number of pecans on top.

Josh made a wonderful meal for us on Saturday evening. In the picture below right, you'll see Josh preparing our hors d'oeuvres of french breakfast radishes with butter and sea salt. He used the opportunity to shoot some photographs for a new blog post. The fresh salad (from the garden) with violet vinager was fabulous as was the entire dinner. Josh had earlier made bread which we enjoyed as well. He's a great cook!

One of the final strolls for the day was up and around to the pond. On the other side of the pond there are wonderful willow trees and two chairs. A great place to just sit and meditate. Brent mentioned that he goes there often. You can see the the Beekman mansion through the willow branches.

There is much more to share about our trip to Sharon Springs.. I fell in love with the town and the people. I'll be posting another entry about Sharon Springs soon. It's a place rich in history and beautiful architecture.

I cannot express enough, my appreciation to Brent and Josh for opening their home and sharing it with us for the weekend. We'll be heading back in September for the Harvest Party.

Learn more about Beekman by visiting their website at beekman.com


Claudine said...

Looks like a great weekend! Fantastic pictures!

Brent said...

Hi, Kenn

What a wonderful diary! I was just in the flower garden pulling up weeds and took a few moments to admire your edging. Oh how I wish you were still here to finish that project!

Elaine said...

I am so very happy that you made the trip to The Beekman, Kenn, and that you got to spend time with Dr. Brent and Josh and experience part of their seasonal living.

This is a beautiful keepsake of your visit. Thank you so very much for sharing it with us!


Fantastic, Kenn! Can't wait to visit this fall! Great photos, excellent tales and a memory I know you'll treasure.