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BUYING PROPERTY IN WINTER takes a lot of creative visualization. It’s hard to imagine lush greenery and abundant flowers when the ground is covered with snow, or plants are fifty shades of brown.

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View at rear of property into Town-owned, undeveloped woods, which seems to extend the backyard forever

That’s why I’m populating this blog post with inspiring springtime images — they inspire me, anyway, and hopefully, prospective buyers will feel the same — showing how things will look as the season progresses at my c.1940, cedar-shingled 2BR  Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.) cottage.

The house is still on the market. I rejected a few lowball offers and had two near-deals fall through. I’m tired of riding the roller coaster, and hoping the winter of my real-estate discontent is made glorious summer (apologies to William Shakespeare) by a reasonable offer from mortgage-worthy applicants.

The official Corcoran listing is here. For photos of the interior, the deck, the outdoor shower, and more nitty-gritty info, like taxes (low!), go here. And feel free to email me at caramia447@gmail.com with any questions.

Meanwhile, please scroll down to see what things will look like as the world renews itself in months to come.

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Magnolia, spring bulbs, sweet william, golden spirea

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Gravel path from front of property to rear, lined with perennial beds (i.e. all this comes back, bigger and better from year to year).

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Same path, looking back to front in early morning. Forsythia in bloom in background, boxwoods and Alberta spruce along property line at right.

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Another view of main perennial bed, with lamium, perennial geranium, ferns, barberry, hakonechloa, iris, Alberta spruce and more

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Found driftwood in a bed of lily-of-the-valley

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Fragrant olive and other flowering shrubs at front of property

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Euphorbia, above, with Korean box and golden spirea

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Doublefile viburnum, 10 feet across

Below, a few photos showing what’s to come a little later on in the season.

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Perennial geraniums and irises in flower…

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Elephant ears (these are annuals) with Korean box, hakonechloa, Japanese painted fern

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Accabonac Harbor in Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.)

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LUCKY LU ANDREWS. She was the secretary for the architecture firm of Ralph Twitchell, which in its 1940s-’60s heyday helped make Sarasota, Florida, an epicenter of important modern architecture. Over the years, Lu Andrews’ employers designed three houses for her. This, the third of them, built in 1959, is a 909-square-foot, 2 BR, 2 bath jewel, with brilliantly pared-down lines and compact design.

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In my view, this is a highly covetable winter/retirement or year-round home, its small size mitigated by sliding glass walls that visually extend the house out into its lush tropical setting and insure abundant light throughout the day.

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I was in Sarasota once many years ago and don’t know it well. The location is said to be prime though — “west of trail” and close to downtown, the bay, parks, marina, restaurants, galleries, beaches, St. Armands Circle (a high-end shopping/dining district), and the Ringling College of Art and Design.

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The house is listed by Martie Lieberman of Premier Sotheby’s International, who specializes in modern properties and cares enormously about their preservation. As she says about this one, “I’d like to see it get into safe hands.”

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The official listing, with more photos, slideshow and video tour, is here.

To read more about the Sarasota School of Architecture, go here and here.

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Photos: Glenn SRQ360.com  courtesy Martie Lieberman

IMG_3969 Maidstone Beach, the never, ever crowded miles-long crescent of white sand a few hundred yards from the house. The bay is so relaxing — kinder and gentler than the ocean’s pounding surf — perfect for swimming and safer, especially with kids.

WHO’S READY TO THINK ABOUT SUMMER? Everyone in the snowy Northeast, I imagine. Hard to believe at the moment, but summer will come, and with it the desire to be near water. I have just the house for you to rent: my utterly secluded 1940s 1,200-square-foot home, a five-minute walk from the beautiful Gardiner’s Bay beach, above, that is one of the Hamptons’ last and best-kept secrets.

June and July are spoken for, but August is available ($7,000). It’s a unique house for the right people — people who dig its arty, Bohemian vibe and don’t require air conditioning or a dishwasher. This is a house that recalls Jackson Pollock’s postwar heyday, when Springs, a hamlet five miles north of the chic village of East Hampton, N.Y., was home to a slew of well-known artists associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement.

Pollock’s own home, now the Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner Study Center, is a mile away in the Springs Historic District. So is the Springs General Store, a throwback to hippie days that pretty much encapsulates what laid-back Springs is all about. The area is still home to many artists, writers and actors, some famous.

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This is a house in a state of pre-renovation, and my price reflects that. There’s a fully functioning (in fact, brand new) kitchen and bath. The house is clean and organized and (will soon be) fully furnished. But I just bought it a year ago, and many planned projects — a new deck, an outdoor shower, a second bathroom among them (not to mention a swimming pool) — have not yet happened.

At present there are two bedrooms, but also, for all intents and purposes, two living rooms; there’s the potential to sleep 6 or more. There’s also an outbuilding which will be converted as a separate studio by summer.

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Great room, furniture yet to come.

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Dining/sitting room with working fireplace

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View to kitchen from dining/sitting room

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One of two bedrooms, with double bed + single (there’s a second bedroom as well)

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Imagine swimming every day (more than once a day!) right at the end of the block; kayaking and paddleboarding from any number of local launch points; bonfires on the beach (legal); grilling on the brick patio; visiting restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, historic houses, and ocean beaches in nearby East Hampton and Amagansett (10 minutes away) and Montauk (25 mins.), and spending time in the uber-charming town of Sag Harbor (20 mins.).

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Above: Part of Maidstone Park’s two-mile loop for walking/jogging alongside the bay, an inlet leading to Three Mile Harbor, and a nature preserve. All a few minutes’ walk from the house.

For more info, contact me at caramia447@gmail.com. To see my craigslist ad, go here.

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Late summer sunset over Gardiner’s Bay

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ONCE-MIGHTY TROY, N.Y., one of the nation’s wealthiest cities in the glory days of the Industrial Revolution (iron, steel, precision tools, shirts and collars), fell on hard times in the 20th century, but much of its impressive — in fact, gorgeous — architecture remains intact. Some of its brownstones are more stellar, even, than Brooklyn’s best, and its commercial buildings, in the uniformly antique downtown area, are great beauties.

There’s much for an architecture aficionada to explore, and explore I did last Saturday, in the company of my travelin’ cousin Susan and Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen (aka Montrose Morris), a new Troy resident and now expert on the buildings of that city. (Her recent New York Daily News article on the revitalization of Troy is here.)

photoHere we are at Lucas Confectionery, a hip new wine bar/ restaurant/grocery that retains the name of the original 1863 store in this space, toasting the wonders of the city named after the ancient Troy, whose motto is “Ilium fuit, Troja est (Latin for “Ilium was, Troy is”) — and, young entrepreneurs and real estate developers hope, will be.

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Above, Suzanne with Lucas Confectionery owner Vic Christopher, formerly of…Brooklyn!

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The obvious place to begin a walking tour of vintage Troy is Monument Square, where a towering column topped by a figure of Liberty commemorates Civil War dead, and around which are a few thriving boutiques like Truly Rhe and a phenomenally unspoiled Victorian bar/cafe, Illium Cafe (photos below of the building that houses it and its wholly original interior). Try the strawberry mimosa.

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The elegant 1904 McCarthy building on Monument Square, of terra cotta with a proscenium-style arched window, below, just waiting for the right tenant.

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Angling off Monument Square toward the Hudson River — narrower here than in New York City, but the original source of Troy’s commercial success — is River Street, below. The spectacular wedge-shaped Rice Building, an 1871 High Gothic landmark at the corner of River at First, replaced an earlier structure wiped out in an 1820 fire that destroyed all the businesses and warehouses along River Street, which had been a busy commercial district since the 1790s.

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River Street is optimistically dubbed Antiques Row. More buildings are vacant than occupied at present, though the potential in its sturdy, attractive building stock, below, is evident. One of the best stores now open: Country Charm at #188, where painted cupboards and iron bedsteads similar to those found in Hudson, N.Y., shops are offered at a fraction of the price. Another goodie: Playing on the Furniture, a place to find cheerily repainted and refurbished secondhand pieces.

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Off Monument Square in the other direction, on River and Third Streets, are livelier boutiques, vintage clothing stores and flower shops (The Botanic Studio specializes in terrariums), and more fine commercial buildings in need of tenants.

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Above, Dang! That’s Cherry, a vintage clothing boutique that also sells mid-century kitsch and kitchenware.

Troy seems to have no shortage of fine public buildings. Below, the interior of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, an 1870s auditorium with original pipe organ, long famed for its acoustics, has a full calendar of important names in classical, jazz and popular music.

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Below, the Troy Public Library, remnant of proud bygone days, with magnificent iron sconces.

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Below, two early buildings at Russell Sage College, founded in 1916 in a public park in Downtown Troy.

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There are numerous blocks of well-preserved row houses — a few early Federal clapboards and many later homes of brick or stone, in Italianate, Romanesque Revival, and other fanciful late 19th century styles. The best of them seem to be along 2nd Street, which we wandered, admiring bay windows, cupolas, friezes, ironwork, cornices, and other details.

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Above: the Federal style Hart-Cluett House, built in 1827 with a marble facade, now the home of the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

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Eventually we came to Washington Park, below, established in 1840 and one of only two private ornamental parks in the state, open by key to residents of surrounding buildings (the other such park is Gramercy Park in NYC). Some of the homes are freestanding mansions, below; others are row houses.

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Above, one of the last remaining cobblestone streets in Troy.

We returned to Monument Square along 3rd Street, where the homes are more modest. There are two interesting houses of worship: the 1827 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, below, whose 1890s interior is all Tiffany; stained glass windows, woodwork, metalwork and lighting. And a cute blue-painted 1870 synagogue, in continuous use for the past 144 years.

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Wherever you roam, there’s interesting stuff to see, like the leaded glass storefront and rusting Art Deco hotel sign, below.

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That’s Troy 101 for you. What do you make of it?

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THE NORTHEAST WINTER is long for us gardeners, hit with snowstorm after snowstorm when all we want to do is get out there and dig.

“The books” advise a season of assessment and planning (preferably with a hot toddy by the fire). It’s true, I realized last weekend up in New York’s Hudson Valley, on a property I know very well from gardening myself there in years past, it’s easy to see the big picture when there’s not all that green stuff in the way.

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Above, the twisted canes of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, a plant that’s all about winter interest.

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Fallen needles under the gigantic white pine count as brilliant color this time of year.

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Plumes of zebra grass stand tall (most of them) ’til their early-spring cutback.

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Hydrangea and yucca along the privet-lined driveway, above.

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The little yellow outhouse, above, by the 3-season stream, below, was built in the 1930s when the house was really rustic.

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Above: Ain’t much to look at in mid-winter, but this area pops with crocus and other early bulbs in April. Burlap coats protect boxwoods from windburn.

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A section of stone wall, probably 19th century, from a time when these woods were grazing land. Such stacked stone walls lace through woods all over the Northeast, revealed in winter even as you drive along the Taconic State Parkway.

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The remains of last season’s ornamental grasses line a steep path to the fenced vegetable garden. I’m reminded of what garden designer Piet Oudolf said: “Brown is a color.”

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Tag-sale Buddha presides over a stone outcropping planted with small Japanese maples and other dwarf species.

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The mysterious concrete rectangle that came with the property, above, perhaps the floor of a greenhouse or other farm building, now filled with gravel and known as the Zen litter box.

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To see this same property in summer, go here.

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