|On the left our rented house. On the right, our current house we bought in 2013.|
An old house is a series of layers. Layers of renovation. Layers of dirt. Layers of lifetimes.
Now that I’ve had some time to admire our old house—only two of its 140-some years—I have found that its style and design sits somewhere between miserly and excess.
It long ago lost all traces of level and plumb, and so remains accessible and honest in every worn and layered detail.
Its crackled and dappled finish, faded through service and utility, offers an open door and true friendship to all. It embodies hospitality laced with generosity. It has been befriended by generations. It is old, but strong. Worn, yet hard working. True and honest in every detail, and by living in it I learn a new way of thinking.
I no longer fixate on perfection and how I can secure this or that or the other thing. Worldly concerns dim and eternity comes into focus. Somehow the variegated hues of the warn wood, faded by each hand that embraced the hand rail or closed the front door, keeps me mindful that this house—nay, this universe—didn’t begin with me, and it won’t end with me either. I find myself wondering what I will have to say to the Creator of the Universe when I stand at His feet and give an account of how I spent the gift of time He gave me.
So I add my own layers to the house, my own mark. I celebrate the past and its way of doing, and I learn how I can do differently, even better, having learned from it and having lived in one of its halls.
I learn to live without ample closets and beautifully finished concrete basements, without soaking tubs and multiple bathrooms, without the comfort of neighbors and attached garages and city snow plows… and I learn to live with messy hogs and noisy roosters, well water and water softeners, mice after the harvest and a confused bat in the back bedroom, pitted-gravel driveways and shoveled snow paths to the chicken coop, drafty windows and all manner of animals butchered behind the barn.
Of course there are the stars in a dark, wide open sky, and a sunrise at the horizon from my kitchen window, the howl of coyotes in the fall, the wonder of hundreds of lightening bugs hovering over acres of soybeans, and the quiet of cool nights on the sleeping porch.
And this city girl is thankful for the lessons she is being taught.