The next few months involved such a blur of activity and mental regrouping that I barely heard the cosmos when it spoke up. My phone interview was just a couple of days away after my return from paradise and I needed to prepare for it. At the top of that preparation list was getting myself back into the mental vibe of the bureaucratic bullshit inherent in the world of higher education.
Sadly, bureaucratic bullshit is one of the things I’ve mastered over the years, so happily, the phone interview went well. One more hoop passed through, round two of the get a job gauntlet successfully run. I flew off to New England on someone else’s wings, put on my show and tell for the interviewers, and landed myself a job. Three hoops cleared.
Little did I realize that those yet to come would be much more constrictive and blazing with the fires of long term warfare.
It was on the second trip to New England that the cosmos spoke up again, or at least a couple of its representatives. Before making the move, I wanted to find a house to buy. As it turned out, the house found me.
After some initial online shopping, I contacted a realtor who agreed to spend a few days with me visiting all the properties that met my criteria. She was someone who had been in the business in the area for a very long time, but who had been out of the grunt work of it for several years. During the financial meltdown of ’08, Peg and her husband had transitioned into doing short sales for those facing foreclosure. My inquiry into a property just happened to cross her radar when she was feeling particularly blue about the whole shebang, and on a whim, she agreed to get up out of her broker’s chair for a while and do some showing.
“The great thing about living in a condo is that you won’t need to worry about digging out, they pretty much all have plowing service.” Peg was filling me on life in the north country. I’d emphasized my complete ignorance of life in the land of long winters and what my main concerns would be.
“Yeah, I guess that’s a real plus”. Honestly, the idea of condo living did not appeal to me, not at all. I’m a woman of the land, a hermit who likes her neighbors well enough as long as I don’t have to see, hear, or smell them too much. The idea of life without a garden did not appeal to me.
We were having a late lunch and a beer after our first full day out. We’d spent it looking at the least expensive on my list, all of which were condos.
“Something tells me you’re underwhelmed with what we’ve seen so far.” Peg was pretty astute.
“Is it that obvious?” I smiled at her. She really was a great gal, a woman my own age who was in a state similar to my own: trying to figure out if the life she was living was really what it was all about. “It’s just that I really like having some space between me and my neighbors. I like spending a lot of time outside. The insides of those places were all pretty nice, but the no back yard just cries out to me.”
Little did I know that in a few days, a back yard would cry out to me.
It was my last day in town before heading back to OKC to start packing up there. That house was under contract for sale, so the pressure was on to find a new one or resign myself to a few months of apartment living. Ugh.
We were much closer to campus, in the land of real estate that was closer to the high end of my price range. At that stage we’d looked at a lots of places, and both of us were getting worn out.
“Well, it does need a lot of work, but it’s nice.” There was no hiding the disappointment in my voice. Yes, it was nice. Yes, it needed work, and I could do it. No, I wasn’t madly in love with it.
It almost felt like getting married all over again. My ex-husband had been nice, too.
“Well, we’re just about out of options.” Peg had been incredibly patient, and I sensed she was ready for me to make a decision one way or another. That’s when the maple tree called out to me.
Hey, over here!
“Huh?” I replied.
“What? I didn’t say anything” She was giving me a look.
No silly, over here!
A hundred meters or so down the road I could see a nice little green Cape Cod with a For Sale sign out front. I started digging through the stack of print outs Peg had put together for me; I was pretty sure we hadn’t looked at it. If we had, it hadn’t spoken up at the time.
“Do you know anything about that one?” I pointed at the house.
She pulled out her iPad and did some hunting.
“It’s been on and off the market and it’s quite a bit out of your price range. The notes say there’s a divorce involved, that the owners have been fighting each other, a bit of a mess. The lots on that side of the road are quite a bit bigger. There’s no fireplace, but it does meet the rest of your criteria. Want to see if we can take a look?”
“Yes, please. This will be the last one, I promise. I’ll probably go for that one on Gaffney Street, but I’d hate to not look. It seems to call out to me”. I was kind of hoping she’d admit to having heard something, too. No luck.
She made a call and got the magic number to open the door so we could go in.
We probably didn’t even need to; the magic of the maple had gotten to me already.
You’d like it here. We’re all very happy in this space and when we sensed you go by, the Redplum twins insisted I try to call you over. I’m so happy you heard me.
Peg was giving me that look again as I stood on the front porch, slack jawed, staring at the big beautiful Acer that stood next to the house.
“Um, do you want to come in?” She smiled at me. “You really do love the trees, don’t you?” We’d talked about my new job as plant biologist at the local university.
“Yes, I do.”
We love you, too.
Weed loved me on the beach in Belize, Acer loved me in the north country.
How could I say no?
The house was nice enough. It was warm and welcoming, although it didn’t have to say anything to let me know. It sat on a full acre, the back half of the lot wooded. Peg hung out near the edge of the lawn as I trudged my way through the poison ivy and wild blackberries to explore.
The low murmurs of welcome coming from all directions were drowned out by the lovely babble of Hale Brook flowing through it all.
Welcome home rushing water, we are all here, we’ve been waiting for you, so happy to see you, you’ll like it here, the darkness will pass into light and winter into spring and life into death, into soil and life, into ecosystem earth.
The call of the Redtail Hawk from above interrupted my reverie. No words, just redtail squawk, just a greeting of sorts. I made my way back up to Peg.
“Let’s make an offer.”
My home had found me.
Linda Brooke Stabler, Ph.D.