Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

In about six weeks, the earth will begin to move. Footings will be poured, the screens from around the porch at our cabin in the woods will be removed as the space is re-invented, and the chaos of creation will ensue. The woods will ring with the sounds of hammers and drills and our 24/7 serenity will be shattered for a time.

Yesterday, we went to look at a house advertised for rent.

It is in a subdivision. We turn into the entrance, past an untended guard-house, past a couple of guys blowing newly mown grass from the roadside, past a golf course we had not known was there, past the original section into the newer sections with ever smaller lots, turn left, turn right, my goodness how many people must live out here, and finally to a cul de sac and a house for rent sign near a recently dismantled basketball goal.

We ring the doorbell several times and peek through the glass front doors. They are frosted with etchings of what appear to be flamingos. Thank God they aren’t pink, anyway. The realtor approaches the front door, clipboard in hand and the owner greets us, cell phone in ear. Moving boxes are everywhere.

The house is in that popular pseudo Mediterranean style that has become today’s subdivision standard. Builders give people what they want, I guess, but judging by this house, it looks as if anything goes so long as there’s a “garden” tub (no garden), plant shelves (no plants), and structured wiring for “surround sound.”

The poor realtor chatters on about the marvelous this and the wonderful that. Buck and I exchange looks as she leads us from one rabbit warren room to another. Our ESP working in perfect harmony, Buck stops her tour guide patter. Not wanting to be so blunt as to tell her this place is hideous, that we became claustrophobic upon entering the subdivision, and almost couldn’t breathe once we were actually in the house, he says, “I’m so sorry to have taken up your time, but this home won’t work for us. Thank you.”

We couldn’t get back out to our woods fast enough, to the dirt roads, the long views and the surround silence.

And here we’ll stay. There will be days during the construction when Buck, Maggie and I may have to go on a field trip. We might even have to stay at a Holiday Inn for a night or two when the wall between the current dining room gets knocked down to attach it to the new part of the house. There will be days when I grind my teeth and growl a little upon hearing pickup truck doors slamming in the early morning.

But this is our life and the building of this home the realization of another dream. We want to be here as the creation of our hearts and heads (and especially Buck’s design talent) rises from the ground, memories hammered home with each nail.

Two days ago, I planted an “Endless Summer” Hydrangea (hydrangea macrophylla, ‘Bailmer’) in between two oak trees on the side of the house that won’t be disturbed by construction. Last night before turning out the lights, I just had to go look at it. There was enough light from the house to see it in the newly turned earth, its leaves uplifted. The night air was fragrant and soft. It’s good to be home.


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