It looks like a doll house- with carpentry like lace lining its dormers and gables, diamond-pained glass, and stout chimney- sitting in the grass where an 8 year old Alice Austen set it on a trip to seashore in 1874. Her little fingers wrapped leafy vines around its porch supports then showered the whole thing with colorful flower petals.
The famous photographer's home is perched on a hillside only yards from a 3-mile-wide water way. I try to imagine her view of 19th century Manhattan and of old Brooklyn. Now, sky scrapers scrape smog and international barges pass slowly and loudly under the longest suspension bridge in America. If I foucs, I can still smell the sea salt that once overwhelmed the air here. Now the air smells like the smog looks.
I sprawl on the lawn in my new maternity skirt and Cinderella flats with my hair surrendered to the breeze. I close my eyes, stroke the grass, and imagine the water a little bluer, the sounds a little calmer and the breeze a little fresher. When I open them a white crane flies low over the water in front of me and I smile.