The first time, ever I saw her face….
Well, I didn’t hate it. That was about it. My husband parked the car as I peaked through my fingers. The real-estate agent was waiting, key in hand, to walk us through this house. This was an exercise – one of compromise – we were not going to buy this property but my husband was hopeful. I didn’t want to slash and burn these hopes with words only – financial facts only – I needed to see his hopes right out there in the light of day.
Joe stayed in the kitchen, talking about particulars with the agent – I walked through the house, kneading my temple, limping, breathing slowly – I cut through the haze in my head to see. Brown-orange-beige tile in the kitchen; Green carpet; large plank well-kept wood floor in the bathroom; large closets; musty smell; dusty pink walls in the south bedroom - dark green walls in the north bedroom, and I wanted to cry. I touched the wall. Cold. I walked downstairs into the kitchen and nodded at Joe – the agent asked if we wanted to see the basement. I said no. “Oh – well – she doesn’t like it,” the agent said. Joe put his hand on my shoulder and said, “She doesn’t feel well – are you okay?”
I nodded – I wanted to leave. In the car I said, “I didn’t hate it. But I wanted to cry. Joe – that house is lonely. It’s a sad house.” Joe laughed softly, “That’s why I like it – it does feel lonely.”
Five days later and without illness, we made our way down the wide gravel road toward the property. I sat up straighter, peering over the hill, trying to see the house and saw a blue expanse instead. “Is that a barn?” I asked. “Yup – that’s the barn,” Joe said.
“That barn comes with the house? Right there? Joe, It’s beautiful!”
We parked the car and the agent met us at the door. Hello again, house. It’s us. Unfinished mudroom; original built-in cabinet in the kitchen; clean basement with precise wiring and plumbing; foundation fine; front porch okay; original wood everywhere even under the green carpet; musty smell; large windows; look at the view from all the windows you can see forever! I stood in the middle of the south bedroom, looking out toward the barn. Yup. This house is lonely.
Our time inside was taken by another couple who stopped to see; they saw the for-sale sign; they’ve been wanting a property just like this…..Joe and I walked to the barn. I have no idea what a barn should look like – I really don’t. I have no idea what makes a good farm. I’m clearly no where near my world. Joe opened the side door and I stepped inside. I saw perfectly straight wiring running up wood to a switch on the side of the barn – on each level of the barn – electricity? Barn stalls. Large sliding doors on each side of the barn. We walked up to the top of the barn – the loft? – see, I don’t know what it’s called – but the beams were strong and just, well, beautiful. I had no idea barns were so big, airy, sturdy and just beautiful.
“Wow,” I said softly. “Yeah – wow,” Joe agreed.
We walked to the corn crib; to the hog barn; to the chicken barn; to the chicken hatchery; back to the garage and house. So this is what 5 acres looks like. No wonder this house is lonely. For one thing, it has green carpet, pink walls and a dark green room. For another, it was surrounded by buildings made for animals. But the biggest thing? It was cared for – someone cared that the wiring was perfect and extended to all the outbuildings; that the plumbing was good; that as much of the original structure remained as healthy and intact as possible - but this house, built for people – had no people.
This house – this property – has just dialed 911 and we are answering. It deserves our care, our spirit, our laughter. I pictured my 5 year old son running down the green-carpet stairs yelling “Mooooommmmmm,” - leaping through the house laughing - crawling on the floor and growling like a tiger; singing softly in his south-facing room – and I’m convinced. That’s it. We need to be here. This house will smile, I know it. It will cradle us, and protect us, and love us and our spirit will seep into its very foundation to live forever.
So much for an exercise in compromise – where’s that agent? We’re buying an acreage today. Period.
A couple days after we closed on the farm the weather turned bad. It hit -30F one night and we had lots of snow and high winds. Drifts grew to 7-8 foot on the west border of the property. A mile or two of more-or-less flat crop land to our west gives the wind a lot of opportunity to pick up the snow and dump it in our trees and around our buildings.
Dominic got bored with the cleaning and painting so we headed outside to explore the snow drifts. I think we had enough after about 15 minutes.
Traveling to and from the farm will be a different experience too. During these latest storms the roads drifted shut and visibility was reduced at times to near zero. Thankfully, the county seems to do a great job of clearing the gravel roads.