We woke to a misty morning, something we are learning is very common for us here in what I affectionately call "the Shire." We live at the top of a hill, and if it is raining, or humid with a high dewpoint, we are often shrouded in fog. And while it is beautiful, and I fancy myself living in the middle of a Thomas Hardy novel as the mist envelops us, it is definitely the downside of hilltop living.
But these pretties don't mind it:
...and it makes for some extremely productive days at the office:
After all, it's quite something for this high mountain desert rat to adapt to this rainy climate so reminiscent of the settings I have loved so well in my beloved Victorian British novels. But when I consider that it is the steadfast yearning for such bucolic landscapes that has helped draw me here in the first place, I'm pretty sure I'm up to the challenge.
This afternoon, I weeded a garden in misty rain. All around me, a trifling chill, like early spring. My gloved fingers immersed in soil moist from persistent showers, pull at a web of roots feeding healthy but undesirable greenery like blood vessels to a tumor. The beetles I disturb scurry in a frenzy as their status quo collapses. A frighteningly large spider, burdened by her corpulent egg sac, totters hesitantly, then stills as she assesses the potential threat. I eagerly move to a different section, and give her--and myself--some space.
I reach underneath a shrub to grab the clever growth that shelters there. I firm up my posture and tug as tiny leaves release the drops of rain that have been collecting. The dewy droplets cascade down my arm, one by one then together gathering unto one another, soft as petals, this shower of loveliness.
When I realize. I am going to be happy in this place. In this strange climate where weeding in the rain seems more right than weeding in the sun. In this place of extremes where it can be the end of summer one day and the beginning of spring the next. In this place where I am learning who I really want to be. By myself. For myself.
To live in the midst of surprises such as this is what has drawn us to this place. The season that originally summoned us has arrived, to be followed by its even more beautiful sister, if one can even imagine that such a thing is possible.
And yet, our true selves linger somewhere between the life we knew and the dream that is being revealed. Between shafts of reality that cut us to the core, and flashes of faith that breed hope for the future.
We yearn for the familiar. For laughter with daughters and the ease of good neighbors. For the companionship of mothers and the solace of aunts. For the comaraderie of the office and the gift that is friendship. For book clubs and rock bands and mountains to hike. For the home we made so beautiful.
And yet, we revel in the blessings of our new life. There are no alarms. No regular commutes. No extracurricular commitments. There are wood chucks that forage, wild turkeys that gobble, frogs that sing, birds that warble, and now, deer that surprise. There is an ocean, there are farmers' markets, and there are our beloved Eds.
But most of all, we are absorbed in healing and discovery. We grieve the loss of our past lives in an effort to make room for the new. We are gathering unto one another, harvesting our bonds, while burrowing deep into ourselves in an effort to decipher our new reality.
We watch the moon and wake with the sun and marvel at the quiet.
We work side-by-side and eat lunch together and take tea breaks at four.
We've been to the ocean, we've walked through the woods, we've paddled a canoe.
We are half-way through a year, and looking ever forward to more surprises such as these.
So, the winter has been extremely long and we teeter between What have we done? and Remember the dream!
The last thing I ever wanted to do was move in the winter, and that's exactly what we did.
I've never seen so much snow in my life as I have this past winter.
The view outside our kitchen one stormy day in January
Which I was expecting, by the way. I am aware that we moved to New Hampshire, after all. But, like anything, you can't really understand something until you've lived it. And it's not like I relocated from some one-season climate like Los Angeles where the only thing you have to worry about is earthquakes, firestorms, and drive-by shootings.
I'm from Utah. I know winter.
We were also completely inadaquately prepared for how much it would cost to heat our much-larger-than-what-we-used-to-have home with record-high propane.
The sticker shock has been what one might call severe. Especially for my energy-conscious husband who, like me, grew up during the Carter Era and its accompanying Energy Crisis. I mean, we don't use what we don't need, sometimes to the point of utter ridiculousness.
So, to keep our bill down, we keep our house at 66 degrees (much lower at night, of course.) We don't spend time in the basement because we don't want to heat it. Apparently this is logical, and we have learned that it is a common thing to do during the winter months in the Shire. You don't heat the rooms you don't use that much. You gather in the rooms that are warm, and you wear your long underwear and bundle up until you think you're going to roll away, and you pile on the blankets until every piece of your body gets warm except your nose.
The good news is that everything we need is upstairs. Like plumbing. And the microwave. The bad news is that the good TV is downstairs in the cold, frigid abyss.
Which begs the question, why did we move here again?
The main reason we bought this particular house was for its many windows with their incredible views.
The view outside our bedroom window
The view outside my office
A male cardinal on the feeder outside the living room window
And while the radiant heat that we get in the house on sunny days warms things right up--on cloudy days? Notsamuch.
So basically, I have been cold since we moved in on January 6.
Oh we have plans to rectify this situation come next winter, I assure you. In place of this "zen" propane-sucking direct vent fireplace in which flames come out of rocks (did you know that flames could come out of rocks?):
...we will have this Heat 'n Glow Northstar wood burning fireplace insert which burns clean. Burns efficient. In fact, it delivers over 50,000 BTUs of heat per hour for up to 10 hours with over 77.8% efficiency. Yep. Straight from the catalog itself.
Not only that, but it has an Optional Heat Zone climate control system [that] turns your fireplace into a flexible, energy-saving heat source by transferring excess heat from your fireplace to other areas of your home.
Which means we can heat our basement with it, too. This is good news because, as I mentioned, the good TV is down there.
Now, never you mind that in order to put this one in, we have to take everything existing out, which is obviously going to cost a pretty penny. And never you mind that the zen fireplace that looks like a picture of a fire rather than a real fire is relatively new, which is difficult for us because by replacing it, we feel like we're wasting resources.
But no matter, at this point comfort is key. Besides, with the current prices of propane, we'll be able to recoup our investment really soon. And we can trade in the picture frame with a fireplace in it for a rebate, and the fireplace people will give it a really good home to a much more modern family than we by reselling it.
So, in spite of the 10 inches of snow we got last Friday, and the vole infestation in the back yard we have not clue one as to how to solve, and the nights we are so homesick for all things familiar that we really do wonder what have we done?, I'd say we really are starting to warm up...
As you may have surmised, I haven't been able to write. For a while now.
There is so much to tell. So much to recap. So many feelings to process.
And yet, each time I sit down at my laptop to do so, my mind goes blank (which is such a cliche), I am denied access to my feelings, and a kind of foggy fatigue invades every sentence I start and backspace over.
I miss writing here. (I'm certainly doing enough of it in the Moxie Fab World.) I miss connecting with you, my blogfriends. So I thought I'd stop by and just say "hello."
I am once again hit with the mind-boggling notion that even good change is extraordinarily difficult. To whit:
We got an offer on our house. It happened just six little weeks after we put it on the market--and two days after my last post. In this economy, that is nothing short of a miracle. We feel lucky and blessed, as well as frightened, sad, and overwhelmed. And yes, I did bury the statue of St. Joseph that my sister-in-law's mom sent to us. (Thanks, Rose!) I placed him upside-down in the soil in the front yard facing my own house, and two days later it sold. I'm not Catholic, nor am I superstitious, but I'll take it.
If the contract holds, we have to be out of our house by November 30. At this point the gravity of it all hit us hard, dead in the gut, and we realized how many good-byes we have to say, how much work we have to do, and how difficult it is going to be to leave our family and friends, our beloved house, and our mountains behind.
Then came the price wrangling. Did we get what we were hoping for? No. (We didn't even ask what we were "hoping" for.) Did we get something that is reasonable in this disparaging market? Yes. Will it help us avoid what our realtor calls "the dead zone"--you know, that time just before Thanksgiving and after New Year's when no one wants to sell or buy or do anything other than celebrate? Yes. Will it be enough to get us into our dream house in New Hampshire? Yes.
Next came the question: What to offer for the second time in New Hampshire? The answer is the same thing we offered the first time in New Hampshire, except this time our house is under contract. Big fat huge major difference.
Just as we were preparing those documents, and at the exact same time that our house in Draper was being inspected, we found out that another party was about to make an offer on the house in New Hampshire. Quick, we had to decide what our very best offer was going to be. And not just our very best offer, but the offer that would get us into this amazing house that we love. Which was, as you can guess, much higher than we were planning.
At which point I realized just how much I loathe the process of buying and selling a house. I have never done this before and I pretty much don't want to do it again for a very, very long time. Ahem. Make that never.
We put in our offer, the fax pages flying everywhere, one after the other being fed into the machine on their journey to our potential future. And the wait began, all the while not knowing what "issues" our own house had and whether or not there will be any costly repairs, or heaven forbid, deal breakers. Not the least of which could have been our buyer seeing the piles and piles of leaves that our 90-foot cottonwood tree had dropped just the night before.
Only to discover the next day, which was this morning, that there are now three players vying for the house in New Hampshire. Aiy yiy yiy!
Then we learned that Beccah will not be able to join us in New Hampshire for Christmas because she has two jobs now and can't get the time off. Nicole immediately offered to stay here with her, which I love, but it's bad enough that we are moving away and now we don't get the holidays either?
All the while we move from room to room, remembering the young family that filled its walls with joy and laughter 15 long years ago. A bride and the groom who married a family. The six- and eight-year-old little girls who needed tucking into their beds every night. The beloved dog that joined us a few months later who is no more. The gift of time that went into its warm remodel and its inviting landscaping. The cherished conversations. The crazy dancing. The baking of pies. The music played. The books discussed. The lessons learned.
The love that grew.
Change upsets the balance of things. It tips the scales, and that which is displaced must find its way back to stasis. To quote one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep But I have promises to keep And miles to go before I sleep And miles to go before I sleep.