Farewell, first summer
Farewell, summer, I will miss you.
This was a tough summer in many ways. Our recent move to a rural area, wildfires and evacuation, troubles with Sam’s leg, empty nest, adjusting to my new commute and the ever-changing climate at work; it has been overwhelming at times and I admit I’ve had difficulty processing it all.
We’re working to carve out a life here and I understand it will take time. Years. Our friends and family (most of them) thought we were crazy to move. After all, we were set up where we were: two-storey farmhouse on an acre close to work and schools, beautiful fenced garden, fruit trees, laying hens and ducks, and Sam had recently renovated and installed a wood stove. All systems were in place: errands, food production, composting and waste management; the house was dejunked and organized, I could put my fingers on anything within moments.
“Why the hell would you trade all of that for a 100-year-old homestead in Prospect, of all places,” I was asked more than once by a caring and perplexed friend. We had central heat and air, for goodness’ sake! Why, indeed.
I’ll tell you why, and I’m talking just as much to myself, to remind me.
2. It was Sam’s turn and
1. God gave me a sign.
When Sam, a.k.a. Boots, married me these nearly 14 years ago he took on my four kids; Drew, Clayton, Cameo, and Miriam, in addition to his son, Elijah, who fell right in the middle between my two boys and two girls. It was rough for all of us. That is an understatement. The agonies of creating a blended family are manifold and I won’t go into all of that, at least not today. But Sam worked hard and tried hard, made mistakes and tried to atone for them, as did I.
We were very grateful for our house in Central Point, a gift from God and my parents, but I knew deep down Sam longed to live in the country someday. I knew, as much as I loved our home of 17 years, that God would make it right.
Then our youngest daughter was a senior in high school.
Sam showed me a listing for a home on 3+ acres in the country. It had definite, if antiquated, charm, and I prayed and tried to keep an open mind. We went to look at the place in January. Winter is the worst and best time to look at a house. The worst because everything is ugly. The best because it strips away all the greenery and grace and you are left with bones, structure. If you can like a house in winter, you’ll love it all year through. Only I didn’t. As soon as our realtor ushered us through the front door I knew it was all wrong. The house was too small, too old, too cold. The kitchen was a disappointment. Dated, it sported a 1970’s wall oven, an ill-placed glass cooktop with 3 working elements, drawers that screeched hideously when opened, and oak cabinets stained an odd orange tone. Ugh.
We walked through the rest of the house, being only 1300+ square feet it didn’t take long. The wood floors were nice, but the rooms felt dark. There were only two bedrooms though the ad said three. “Nope,” I whispered to Sam after we walked through the most awkward bathroom I had ever seen, with doors opening to three rooms and a bonefide pull flush chain, “this isn’t it.” My tentative enthusiasm drained out my cold toes (we had taken our shoes off and the wood and tile floors were icy in January.)
I could tell Sam did like it. More than liked it, he was falling in love. Oh. No. “Well, let’s be polite and finish the walk-thru,” I said.
And then we stepped outside. Into the yard we had already walked through. The air smelled sweet and fresh, sunlight slanted through the wood fence, and I had a sense of my Dad’s presence. “I’ll be here,” he said. My Dad died 15 years ago and his handiwork around our place is something I never wanted to leave. In that moment I knew it was okay to let go. I couldn’t foresee how it would work out, but the place was ours and I would learn to love it.
I am learning. Week by week, month by month, I am discovering reasons to love this place that doesn’t quite feel like home yet, if I’m being honest. And I will be honest. At times I have felt so homesick I thought I was losing my mind. My orderly routines still lay in dust around my feet. I can’t seem to get my act together and I struggle through every week. Get up early. Drive an hour to work. Focus. Drive home. Dinner. Chores. Fall to bed exhausted. Repeat.
Until weekend. On weekends I am faced with all the things I couldn’t get done during the week. Plus laundry and moving boxes - still, after 6 months. But there is also the song of the breeze through the pines, the view of the pond and quaint old henhouse through my kitchen window, goose antics, good books and good walks, tinkering in the garden. Being old, the place is steeped in history and mystery. What on earth was that loft room over the henhouse used for? What does that old brass plaque in the eave signify? Were the neighbors in earnest when they reported seeing a cougar lounging on our front porch at night?
Farewell, first summer.