A busy summer blended into the fullest fall of my life. The summer music program climaxed while my family was carting all our belongings to a new house and cleaning up the old one. As soon as that was done, School Year 2021 flowed in with Ida, and just as we were overcoming the surge, a long-term house guest—unexpected but very welcome—came to live with us.
The piano was one of the last things to leave the former Hall Hutch. Its migration probably isn’t over. The partly finished basement has enticing potential to become a creative and teaching space, so maybe some soon day I’ll hire more biceps to carry the grand down from the living room. Beyond that, I better not broadcast predictions for studio work. Wait and see.
I learned a few lessons from this move.
1) Limitations make decisions easy. We had watched the market for two years for a house we could grow in while caring for a wheelchair-bound son. Despite seeing almost nothing, we finally listed. The day we were to ink a sales contract, a Coming Soon e-mail landed in our inbox that looked far and away better than anything else. The lack of options spared us analysis paralysis, so we made an offer sight-unseen; and now we’re here, grateful for God’s providing hand.
2) Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen has market growth potential. Everyone knows Chick-fil-A wins on customer experience, but when it comes to pure fried chicken pleasure, it's Popeye's. We made some new believers when we fed the moving crew.
3) A 3,000 square foot house can be too small for a four-pound rabbit. Daughter’s precious is too messy for a bedroom and too delicate for a polluted garage, lonely basement, or sultry outdoors. The blue-eyed beast is now perfuming our living room, and I’m not sure how she’s getting away with it.
4) Applying diluted Romabio Classico Limewash to rough dry brick—contrary to instructions to wet the brick first—produces a desirable mottled effect. I learned this by accident.
5) You are allowed to keep a programmable coffee maker in your bedroom. Best alarm clock ever. You don’t risk waking children sleeping near the kitchen. Many thanks to my parents for the housewarming gift. (Recommendation: the Cuisinart Brew Central from Costco. Use the gold-tone filter on the Bold setting and one heaping scoop per cup.)
6) Catharsis will come of its own accord, and it will be all right. I had little time to get sentimental about leaving our house of eight years. But when I returned after the move to do some clean-up, I carried the last armful through the side yard gate and allowed myself to look back.
In 2013, the backyard had been an open grassy slab, flowing unornamented into neighbors’ lawns. The only landscape piece had been a mature silver maple. In 2021, my eyes rested on fig trees, hydrangea, viburnum, blueberry, elderberry, a raised garden bed, a tree swing, and a tall semi-dwarf Grimes Golden apple tree, loaded with fruit and buttressed by a retaining wall made of stone unearthed from the same yard.
In that scene, my mind also saw something else—a four-year-old towhead shooting across the yard like a meteor. She grew right alongside the Grimes Golden and came to know every square inch of this patch of land, the soil of her growth, too. Now she is a twelve-year-old brunette every bit as promising as the enduring apple tree.
“Thank you,” I told my Maker tearfully. I knew he understood there was an essay in those two words, an essay that acknowledged the beauty of an era as well as its blights.