Thursday, May 27, 1999
The wind that wraps its talons around the top of Hawk Tower in Carmel is as cold as the eye of a predator. It''s not a lover''s wind, gentle and sultry; it comes raiding off the ocean, crisp and sharp, assaulting the stones that poet Robinson Jeffers erected as a gift to his beloved wife Una. The thick walls of the tower, and adjacent to it Tor House, are both a refuge from and an outpost in the ceaseless wind.
The newly married Robinson and Una arrived in Carmel in 1914, and he began building the house--built low to the ground to withstand winter storms--in 1918. Eloquent in its simplicity, Jeffers built the home himself, using the masonry knowledge he had gained while working for a contractor. He began building Hawk Tower for his wife in 1920.
Only the most hard-hearted visitor could fail to see the love that holds the buildings together. And not just one kind of love: The stones themselves are lovingly nestled together; carvings, paintings and other images of hawk and unicorn--the chosen totem animals of Jeffers and Una, respectively--throughout the house and tower speak of the couple''s passion for each other; living stone growing from the earth is undisturbed and incorporated into the building of the home; a broad, low window in the dining room peers out at the ocean like a lover watching for his mate. Similarly, Jeffers put a low window in the guest bedroom so that company could look out at the ocean without rising from bed. It''s the same bedroom that he chose for his deathbed years before his death in 1962.
Mottoes are painted on walls and beams throughout the house. Perhaps the one that is most touching, and reflects the almost legendary nature of house, is the one that reads, "They made their dreams for themselves."
Tours of Tor House are led hourly from 10am to 3pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Tor House is located on Ocean View Avenue, near Stewart Way, Carmel. Admission: $7/adults, $4/full-time college students, $2/high school students. 624-1813, Monday-Thursday; 624-1840, Friday and Saturday. www.torhouse.org