My first adventure in this forest, the site for the Narnia home, was in late-summer. Even in my sturdiest boots, I could not trek the whole site. My agile dog was better at finding a path between the rotting logs and over the dense ferns. I could not find the ground, let alone the edge of the fiddleback maple grove. My mind told me I was somewhere other than the south end of Bainbridge Island. I was in Narnia. I half-expected Mr. Tumnus to appear from around a tree- his scarf tied around his neck and a package under his arm. Lacking a magical wardrobe, our portal into Narnia was to be this beautiful home.
For the next year, we wandered the 6-acre site in every season, imagining life in a future home. In fall, the maples dropped their paper-sized leaves, making a golden carpet. In spring, the fiddlehead ferns popped their curled heads out through the leaves. We conjured an image of the porch with its fireplace and sofas, and the kitchen-garden. We pictured grandkids running through the woods and later bundled-up watching outdoor movies. We formulated the view from the living room windows, as it would appear from different perspectives on the site. We put all these pieces together and came up with the perfect location for the house, each room responded to the site in its own way.
The Narnia house is designed for generations of family members. One might be found in the kitchen, with their apron, baking cookies. One might be upstairs, designing high technology. One might be sewing—probably a gift for someone special. One might be getting the kayak ready to circumnavigate the island. One might be harvesting sweet peas. The house was designed for all this, and more. There is a special wall in the kitchen, with a series of photos- each a group photo of the last family gathering, consecutively larger. It is not a big house, by some standards. It is a house that is designed for intimacy.
The kitchen tasks rotate around the island- anchored by the great stove that performs so many functions. The sink-wall, with its copious windows, faces south, the direction where daydreams and sunlight come from. The dining area- with an art wall at its head and French doors at its feet, borrows strength from the kitchen and the living room. In the living room itself, the dialog between the steel-balustered staircase, the concrete fireplace and the south windows is almost audible. Upstairs, the spaces achieve a perfect balance- with sleeping and working claiming their place at opposite ends, below the tall gables, with the fussy bits of bathing and toileting in-between. Downstairs, well, we need to ask Lucy and the Professor to tell us what happens there.
In the Narnia books, the author brings the Pevensie children out of a troubled time in London, to a place not without its own danger, but a place of wonder and belonging. This home is that kind of place. It is a place where adventure and imagination hold hands and stroll through the forest together.