Thursday, October 9, 2014

Home Is Where You Wash Your Pond Rocks

A Home for My Mother

About a decade ago, my parents built their dream home. My mom saved and saved so they could pay cash for their home. It is a beautiful home, designed to suit their needs. My parents deserved it after enduring a small home that wasn't designed especially well, crammed with kids, for almost 30 years. After a couple more years of saving, they put in some beautiful landscaping, complete with a waterfall and pond feature.
(Scrubbing rocks isn't the only thing my mom likes done. We also scrub the fences. Also, this is my dad's dog. My dad likes to pretend that is my sister's dog, but we all know that Colt had bonded so deeply to my dad that the two cannot be separated. )
One day, my mom handed my younger sisters rags and asked them to go outside and scrub the rocks near the pond, because there was slimy mold growing on the rocks. Two of my sisters took the rags and headed out to the pond, when the other sister stopped and point blank refused to clean the rocks.
(I can't actually find a picture of my mom's pond on my computer. I know I have one somewhere. In the meantime, here is my parents' home in the winter. My dad has a team of draft horses named Bill and Bob. They have the most amazing views at their house. Nothing tops the Wyoming sky. )

This moment has become family legend because no one defies my mom, especially  not when it comes to cleaning. Really, it was completely absurd to go out and scrub rocks, but if you knew my mom, you wouldn't think it strange that she asked my sisters to do it.

(Yeah, we spend a lot of time outdoors when we visit my parents in Wyoming. We ride horses, pet dogs, and gaze at the blue sky with clouds. )

No Home for Me

Over a period of eighteen years, I lived in one dorm room, eight different apartments, and four different homes in six different towns, four different countries, and two different states. Living such a transient life feels rootless. With each move, I would take stock of my new residence and adapt to its quirks. 
(One of Sweden's quirks was snow and cold making snowsuits a necessity eight months of the year. These weren't just any old cheap snowsuits. These were heavy duty snowsuits designed to be used all the time. The little snowsuits had rubber bottoms so the kids could sit outside in the snow without freezing their little tushes off.)

Each new place felt temporary as I knew a move would be imminent. No matter how much I would try to live in the moment, the next moving date would loom in the back of my mind. Living in a new place requires a lot of strength and energy to adapt and learn the culture. I focused on providing stability and roots within our family structure, as opposed to our home.
(We lived in three different student family apartments in Sweden. They all had the same layout and kitchen. I made well over 5000 meals in this little kitchen and often for lots of people. It wasn't much and I could have made more of it, but I was too busy having fun with family and friends to worry about it.)

That isn't to say I didn't make our homes comfortable or presentable. I just spent less time worrying about what went into the home and making it perfect and more time concentrating on experiencing the new area.
(These are some snapshots of our Swedish apartments. We had a table in our living room. Our hallway filled with backpacks, snowboots, rain boots, rain coats, snow suits, helmets, etc was the most important room in the house. We biked everywhere sometimes pulling a trailer for the little ones. My bigger kids biked to school and church.)

A Home for Me

Buying our first home felt like exploring grown-up territory. As excited as I was for home ownership, I wasn't prepared for the emotional feelings I would have owning a home. It is responsibility and stewardship, both freeing and weighty. 
(This is the view through my study windows. I love New York in the fall. The colors are gorgeous.) 

Today I was sweeping my deck, prepping it for a waterproofing treatment in anticipation of winter, and it suddenly dawned on me why my mom wanted my sisters to wash the rocks. It wasn't just about cleaning pond scum, but the feeling of pride and ownership for a place. It is about having roots and wanting to thrive-not merely exist in that place. It's about wanting to make a place better for having been there. 
(The previous owners of our home dug deep roots. You can see it in their care of the place. These gorgeous daffodils popped up in the spring and blew me away. )
I may not have a burning desire to scrub rocks, but the inevitable weeds push against my mind-begging to be pulled. My desire to beautify my home goes beyond anything I've ever experienced before. I see myself stretching roots deep into the ground of my home, making my home here. I'm not planting with one eye on the calendar thinking about the next move. It is new territory for me. I rather like this new feeling.

(Working in our garden in earnest. The teenagers listen to books on tape while they weed. We had a lovely yield this year.)


1 comment:

Bobi Jensen said...

I don't know if and when I'll be able to get to that point, but I LOVE this post. So beautiful. And many mental pictures for me knowing the places you described and the people (I just love them).