Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Castles in my life

I've been lucky enough to have lived near two different castles in my life. It might be commonplace to Europeans, but in America we don't have that many castles. I have had more than my share.

In the very early eighties, I lived in the country near Camdenton, Missouri, at the Dead End of Spencer Creek Road on a defunct turkey farm. Our land backed up to a state park that contained Ha Ha Tonka castle, built by a wealthy businessman, burnt, and never lived in.

The castle sits up on a 250-foot cliff and looks out over Lake of the Ozarks. I used to take the Jaybird there often, because he was fascinated with any place where you were likely to see wildlife and plants and human ruins.

Down the road and around a curve was what the locals called "the slab." An enormous tree was uprooted and lay across what used to be the road; on its side, the tree was taller than I stand. The road was broken into six- and eight-foot pieces, and tossed up into a pile. The first time we came upon this place, Jaybird said, "Oh, wow. Something happened here." I have no idea what it was that had happened, but it was wild and beautiful.

Three or four feet of crystal clear water had gathered in the low areas. We could see the pebbles on the bottom and our feet on the pebbles. You could reach right down and touch crawdads and fish. The trees were so tall that they made a greeny yellow canopy above so even a fair-skinned lass like myself wasn't likely to get sunburned. On a hot afternoon, that place was heaven.

The first time I saw the castle here in Lexington, I had taken a wrong turn in the early morning and out of the fog, away in the distance, was a castle just sitting there. I thought it was a mirage.

This castle was also built by some wealthy person who never lived in it. You hear rumors of it changing hands, and it burnt at least once since I've lived here. I love seeing it sitting out there on the side of Versailles Road, but you can't take a decent photo of it because there's no good place to stop on the busy road. I've heard there's a back way but I don't know it. Supposedly someone is busy turning it into a hotel now.

I like a little magic in my life. What's more magical than a castle?