Montecito Alumni Write Letters from Life’s Front

By Stella Haffner   |   January 21, 2021
Stella Haffner, in the confines of the Scottish yurt with the rain plodding above

Dear Montecito,

Exams are finished. School is out. What’s a girl to do? I could start a political campaign. How hard could that be? All in favor of banishing the word “unprecedented,” say aye. 

I cleaned my room – that’s a good start. Did some work-related housekeeping too; you may notice I have a new last name. Don’t worry! No secret elopements. I’m too COVID cautious for that. In fact, Haffner is my real last name. Pierce was given to me by providence (or perhaps by our wonderful publisher, Tim Buckley) because it is the name on my email. All you need to know now is my date of birth, and you could hack into my old Webkinz account. 

Ah, Webkinz. How sweet our hours together were. And how little closet space I have because you little stuffed animals are all jammed in there. But I cannot part with you! No, indeed, it is much easier to reminisce on the recent past, which is what we’re doing today. Please enjoy this short epic about wandering a small town. 

St. Andrews is a very small town. We have three commercial streets, cleverly named North Street, Market Street, and South Street. But most of the appeal of St. Andrews is, no doubt, the surrounding greenery and the nearby ruins where I try to spend much of my time. There are, however, some hidden gems within the town. 

My old flat mate Keira and I decided to visit one of these hidden gems as a mini weekend adventure. A trip to the Botanic Gardens it is! But when we arrived at the gate, a sign informed us that the gardens were:“Closed. Due to weather.”

Closed due to weather? That’s gonna be a right pro’blem if ye live in Scotland, ye ken, lass. How could they be closed due to weather? It was the sunniest day in weeks! (I almost suspected that was the problem.) With limited options, Keira and I headed back towards the center of town. Our wandering brought us to the walls of St. Leonards, a local boarding school, and we enjoyed some light trespassing on the Sunday-quiet school grounds, completely ignorant of what we were about to find. 

We had no idea that St. Leonards School was so big, with nice trees, a large football pitch, and… a yurt? I must’ve done something of a double take, standing there in what was now a mild, Scottish drizzle. 

“Keira, check it out!”

We crept forward, occasionally glancing over our shoulders to check for any rogue school children or, mercy save us, groundskeepers. It would seem, however, that our adventure was over, as even seven or so meters away a padlock could clearly be seen hanging from the door. But when we reached the door, our spirits were once again stirred; the padlock had been left open. 

Keira rapped on the door: “Hello?”

Nobody home. 

With one more look to the grounds behind us, I unswiveled the padlock, Keira opened the door, and we swept inside. Not a moment too soon, it would seem. From inside the expansive wooden frame of the yurt (which was heated, of all things) we could hear the rain plodding above. Looking upwards, Keira and I could see through the eye of the conical roof. And, as neither of us had brought an umbrella, we enjoyed the sight of the rain rolling off the outside of the plexiglass dome for a long while.



P.S. Parents of Montecito children, if you have recommendations on people to feature in “Dear Montecito” please contact me, 


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