It was a beautiful, absolutely temperate, day so I took Lil to Madame Sherri’s Forest in Chesterfield, NH. I’ve been in love with this place ever since my friend Nick took me there back in high school. It’s a burned out shell of a building, overgrown with all the flora that New England has to offer, and embellished with beer bottles and empty packs of cigarettes. But, there is something inherently romantic there. Perhaps it is the legend of the Madame herself which lends the air of mystery to the ruins. A costume designer for the Zigfield Follies, she brought class and glamour to the back woods of New Hampshire, a feat worth mentioning.
Although Madame Sherri is a fascinating character, it is not her presence that brings me back again and again. It is as if I’m eight years old, and the wonder with which I saw “castles” as a child comes back to me instantly the second I see the first stone of the tower peeking through the trees. Having spent time living in England and having seen REAL castles, I assure you that Madame Sherri’s construction, although impressive, is certainly no royal abode. Still, when I sit on the steps there, I feel like one of Rossetti’s Pre-Raphaelite beauties, entering a world of mysticism and magic. I know all of this sounds sappy, but if we can’t escape from reality now and again, what good is our imagination? I’ve always been a daydreamer, and it’s not at all difficult for me to lose myself in any given situation – to tune out the world. Oddly enough, I’m no good at meditation, but that’s because it requires an empty mind, and mine is always full, though not necessarily with the things it should be.
I can’t tell if Lillia enjoyed our walk or not. I think she was a bit frightened of the castle, not so much because of its state of disrepair, but because the entrances and exits were not clearly defined. I think she felt trapped, despite the lack of walls or ceilings to hold her. However, unlike myself, she seemed perfectly content to climb the side staircase, and would have gone to the top had I not stopped her. There was no way I was going to the top, and I couldn’t let her go that high by herself. I don’t remember being afraid of heights as a child but, then again, I was hardly aware of my own mortality at that age (now the knowledge is acute). Perhaps life is the same no matter what your age: a mixture of wonder and fear at every turn.
See more photos from Madame Sherri’s here.