Walking around our house, I admire the new coat of paint – the bright white front with pale yellow shutters, the unpainted shingles on the sides gleaming with redwood stain – and I remember the first time I set eyes on her.
A warm October afternoon, we followed the real estate agent through a small town, passing over two sets of railroad tracks and by a waterfall.
Surrounded by pine trees, the raised ranch sat on a hill overlooking a pond. It had six-over-six multi-paned windows, a brick face and one-car garage underneath.
She beckoned, and I was captivated. I hadn’t even stepped inside, and I knew this would be where our children would grow up and my husband and I would grow old.
“We have to be able to afford this,” I thought, as the agent began a guided tour.
Entering the house, I should have noticed that the rooms were rather small, there was only one bathroom, and the basement was partially-finished. But instead, I saw only the beautiful oak ceilings, the open country kitchen and keeping room with fireplace, and the wall of bookshelves in the basement that would hold my dearest possessions.
Directly behind the house was a huge kennel for our dog.
I knew my husband was smitten when he walked into the new barn that the owner had built for his sailboat. It had work benches, a wood stove and ample room for any number of toys that were on my husband’s wish list.
The leaves rustled as we walked the three-quarter acre property, inhaling the scent of pine and listening to the quiet.
On the spot my husband made an offer, but it took a week of counter-proposals before the owners, who were in a hurry to move to Florida before winter, accepted our bid. I could not believe our good fortune.
Unfortunately, the binder was contingent upon the sale of our small starter home in the city. As I waited for a buyer, I wrote in my journal, making lists and drawing room layouts, and I prayed.
Three months later an offer was made, which we accepted. I started packing. Two days later, the buyers changed their mind, losing their escrow deposit. I started unpacking.
A few weeks later a young couple saw the house and made an identical offer. This time we waited for the bank to approve their loan before celebrating.
A month later we were handed the key to our new country home, and my husband carried me over the threshold.
Twenty-eight years later, she bears the scars inflicted by an active family of five, but she still captivates me.