Strawberry Hill

Who lives at Strawberry Hill? I have been passing by the road that leads there every morning about 10 o’clock. It sounds like such a charming place: something from a dream or a child’s play. As I walk, I get half a mind to take the fork in the road, to gather my skirts and climb the mysterious path to the house on the hill. But for some strange reason, I never stop: my boots keep shunting me forward, unhesitating along the straight little path they know so well. Is there fear in my feet, courage in my heart? It is a hard business, sometimes, to get the body on board with the imagination. Flights of fancy are hard on the legs, which, after all, are earthy creatures, and feel very much safer on the ground than in the air.

Still, I wonder who is the tenant of Strawberry Hill. What a disappointment if he should be a crabby old fellow, dull of mind with no imagination to tell of. How could one live in such a place without being seduced by its charms? No, the only acceptable thing is something romantic: a windswept fellow, beautiful of face, tossed with passion for the girl he saw once but never forgot. Or a small boy with tap shoes, who goes out in the night and dances all around the hillside under the light of the moon. Or perhaps a freckled old lady and her dog, both overfed on the strawberry pies she was famous for making in her youth.

Or it may be that a writer lives there, up on the top of Strawberry Hill. There is probably nothing remarkable about his appearance: an ordinary frame, a squarish face, a pair of spectacles for his blurry eyes. But he must be lit by some invisible flame: a burning world of questions and phantoms and dreams that keeps him up the night pecking at his typewriter like a lunatic hen. Yes, he must be a man of imagination; or he would never have chosen a home like Strawberry Hill.

I think I should like to meet him, rapping at his door one morning about 10 o’clock. Perhaps he shall invite me in for toast and tea, and I shall nod my head, murmuring thanks, and cross the threshold of that mysterious place.