Seventeen years ago, I lived in a tiny...and I mean tiny...rental house out in the country near Chapel Hill. I could fit everything I owned into one pickup load. My life was a lot simpler then. If something needed fixing or replacing, I knocked on the door of my next-door neighbor, 81 year-old Ralph, who owned the house, and he took care of it. I didn't have to think about it.
I looked forward to one day owning my own house, but I didn't appreciate the freedom of not having to worry about a damn thing except paying the rent on time and making sure I was home in time for Northern Exposure on Monday nights. Money was spent on myself. If I wanted books, I bought them. If I wanted to go to the beach, I went.
Don't get me wrong. I like my house. But there are days when I wonder if I own the house, or if the house owns me. Case in point: astute readers of this blog will notice that we have a new roof, and that the trim on the right side of the house is now white. (Seriously, if you noticed that, you need to get a life, or else I'm calling the cops because you are obviously paying way too much attention to my house...)
The thing is, I'm tired of house projects. Since we bought the place, in addition to the roof, we've stripped wallpaper and/or painted in 6 rooms, replaced carpet in 3, refinished hardwoods in 1, and still need to replace the deck and the heat pump. I'm tired of thinking of what's next on the list. What I'd like to do is have a tiny cabin like Thoreau's--or like my little house in Chapel Hill--in the middle of my garden. Something that required minimal upkeep. A place to sleep, shower, and read. I'll bet I would have a lot more money, not to mention time, do deal with something that I enjoy--my plants.
William Shenstone, an 18th century writer, may have put his finger on part of the reason for my discontent:
The works of a person that builds, begins immediately to decay; while those of him who plants, begins directly to improve.
All that stuff we do to the house starts to wear out or get old the moment we're done. I know, I know, you gotta have a roof, but still...I wish I could reverse the ratio of money and time I spend on the house versus the garden.
Speaking of the garden, I took some photos this afternoon after the thunderstorm. Check them out.
Andy's Garden. I still miss that cat.