This past week, for some reason, my daughters have been looking at the past, at least one of them with some sense of fondness. Both are bloggers. One of them maybe got the thing started with a characteristically oblique post followed by the other with a more eloquent offering.
Their posts revolve around our old house. Both of them posted the same picture from an era well before the time that we lived in it. It was a big old farm-house, home for our family for eighteen years. Our youngest daughter was born there. The other two children may have vague memories of other places, but this house would have figured largely in their lives. It was home.
When we moved in it was livable for a family that was trying to start a farm life and willing to put up with less to make that happen, but really, it was a mess. The windows throughout the house were in bad condition. The frame addition that housed the kitchen and bathroom was sided with rotting painted particle board. There was little insulation. The oil bill was high and we actually did not heat most of the house. A wood stove in the kitchen kept us warm during the day, blankets did the job at night.
Over the years we did renovate and fix. If we were doing it today we’d likely have a renovation blog. As it is, there are virtually no before and after pictures and those there are only happened because we were taking a picture of somebody. There were no digital cameras back then and film was too expensive to waste on remembering what we wanted to get rid of. The house was entirely gutted in three stages over about eight years. A new kitchen and bathroom were installed. All the windows were replaced. The particle board was covered with siding. Two new porches were built. We put on a new roof. The carpets were pulled out and the wood floors underneath were sanded and refinished. A new wood stove, furnace and water heater were installed. Heating bills went down. We started to use the whole house.
At the same time, we built barns and sheds and a silo. We built a life and a business. It was a business that allowed us to work together as a family (code for child labour). While money was always an issue since there were more ways to use it than places for it to come from, this time in our life was a good one. We raised our family, we learned together, we dreamed together.
But, life moves on. Life throws curve balls that are unexpected, that change the direction that you think you are supposed to go. So we moved on. We were blessed in that moving as well. Somehow God gets the message through that its time for the next step.
There are things about that time and place that I miss. They are not the same things that my kids may reminisce about. I miss the dreaming, the sense of possibility, the sense of working with, or against nature, and succeeding. The sense that next year would be the one when things would come together. I miss the order of the seasons and the work plan that they wrote. I miss the common cause that J and I once had, every day, on almost every front.
But, I don’t really miss the house.