The Kestrel’s Nest
In the fall of 1967, May Swenson and her friend, novelist Rozanne Knudson, bought a cedar summer cottage on the North Shore of Long Island, in the village of Sea Cliff. Their house was perched three stories above a street that borders the sandy shores of Long Island Sound, and afforded full views of Hempstead Harbor and across the Sound to New Rochelle, New York.
Sea Cliff is a one-mile-square village that dates from the 1870s, when Methodist camp meetings were held on the cliff above the Sound. Later the village became a haven for people escaping the city’s heat. Hotels were built, then summer cottages, and eventually year-round houses for the many writers, painters, photographers, musicians, theatre people, and others who settled in this community.
May named the house “Kestrel’s Nest” after a species of hawk seen perched on telephone wires nearby. Not only kestrels but also ospreys (fish hawks), gulls, and terns fly by the window in front of May’s desk, where she wrote many of her poems.