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The View from Apthorp

Judy and Sean Palfrey

Summer Vacation

A few months ago, we celebrated the glorious 250th birthday of Apthorp House with kazoos and Sousa phones blowing. Adamsians in costumes of every type graced the event, mostly 18th century garb borrowed from a somewhat musty Loeb Drama collection. Miniature horses, cuddly rabbits, a goat, llama, and a pig roamed the grounds; more than half the House, hundreds strong, roamed Apthorp enjoying fantastic culinary goodies. A fun day it was: the ultimate “Apthorp moment.” At least, that’s what Sean and I call it when students, tutors and SCR members flood all three doors of Apthorp at once, and the house phone and both of our cells ring together in an ironic kind of harmony. Usually, there is an errant child or grandchild tugging at our elbow as well.

It is a certain type of controlled chaos, most assuredly; but equally, a kind of bliss – one of those “you gotta know it to love it” moments.

But for now, summer has arrived and everything is so quiet, so still. The courtyard is empty with the only major sound coming from Resident Dean’s son Ethan Howell – his hockey stick actively re-enacting each second of the Stanley cup. An occasional siren howls, or, like the other day, a baby bird hatches outside my window, all – “peep, peep, peep peep, ” much like the departed students, but far more soprano, and subdued. On a Saturday here and there, for short bursts, alumni arrive for a visit, or a former tutor celebrates a wedding in the dining hall, violins ablaze. But these go away as quickly as they come. Apthorp House, never changing, shelters Sean and me – plus one or two others, known House-wide as “Elves.” – mostly graduate students who help around the House in exchange for room and board. One of them, our dear Philip Kreycik, proudly wears his “I LOVE WORMS” Tee-shirt, a souvenir from his stay with Will Allen, the MacArthur genius urban-gardener who has inspired us to install a small vegetable garden on the roof of the ArtSpace behind Apthorp House.

And how quiet is it, you ask? Would you believe? We can almost hear the snap peas growing.

Judy and Sean