Sunday, November 4, 2018

change of address

If you had told me at the start of the farmers market season that right after the end of the season, meaning the traditional season, for the market these days continues each Saturday right up until the Saturday before Christmas rather than ending the last Saturday of October; if you had told me then that I would be packing up now to move to Marquette, well, I might have said, “Wow. How did that happen?”

At times it seems as if it happened without my even thinking about it, even though I can tell you I thought about it—a lot—and can retrace the process, the careful steps, I took to get here as well as all the mind-numbing, number-crunching, age-gnashing angst that accompanied the calm. Plus, I am very aware of the background, the various things over the past few years that now look suspiciously like: indicators.

“Yes,” the people in white lab coats in front of their dials and screens say as they watch, take notes, purse their lips, “Hmmmm.” A slight smile. A “tsk” here, a “tsk” there. These people know which way the wind blows, how the sand shifts, how the plot develops, and they now lean back in their swivel chairs, rocking, saying: “Phew. At last. There she goes.”

And so here I am, almost, today being the last day of packing, but soon, tomorrow: Blemhuber Avenue, Marquette, Michigan, a house called “The Marion.” So named by Sears, the once-maker of houses that arrived in kits by train from Chicago for buyers to put together piece by piece, this house in particular circa 1939, though whether this is truly the story of this house or not must yet be fully investigated as, so far, it is just what I think based on the bit I know. Still, I do not hesitate to write to my mom:
Dear Mom, I now live in a house that bears your name. Thank you.

It was either June or July when I noticed a house for sale in Marquette on one of those online real estate sites that I was looking at once in a while for fun, I thought, but also in contemplation of potential possibilities. I perceived the house as affordable, and it was just a block or so from Lake Superior, in a neighborhood I perceived as consisting of larger, more expensive homes. One day, after delivering candles to the co-op, Josie and I parked by the house, walked over to the lake, walked around the neighborhood. I saw interesting houses, small houses, medium-size houses, older houses, some new additions, front porches, a few people sitting out on front porches. Subsequent visits and walks showed me people of all ages and even more homes of various vintage, various character, and the truth of the matter was this: walking around this neighborhood I felt right at home, which can be a dangerous thing, for feelings are sometimes misleading, but, having lived out in the woods now for several years, one thing I was increasingly missing was this ability to walk around a neighborhood seeing, in a sense, other people’s lives and being, in a sense, part of it all.

And see there they are, those people in their lab coats, pushing a few buttons, pulling a few levers. How I wish they’d get off their butts and help me pack.

Soon I developed and preceded with a plan, and the plan came to fruition, albeit a bit sooner than I expected. For I did not buy that house I first saw online, and neither did I buy a house in that neighborhood. The house I did buy is a few blocks more from the lake, has neither a garage nor a fireplace, both of which I thought I wanted, and I have issues with the windows and the bathroom not to mention the walls, which are plaster and some of them “textured” and that just seems weird, but I took care of that with paint; But—

You can see the lake from the middle of the street and, I’ve just discovered, with the leaves off the trees from a spot on the back deck. There are big old trees: oak, maple, basswood. The neighborhood is close to downtown, has its own little commercial district with a store that, I’m told, has the best cookies and great popcorn, and the houses are interesting and varied and some, including mine, have front porches. Still –

It was shortly after the inspection, during which time the nervous potential home-owner-to-be perhaps comes to discover: Well, lady, I hate to tell ya but there’s this big hole in the roof and water in the basement and rats in the walls; but, also, potentially: Great little house. Looks like a Sears home. Simple design, well put together. Still –

You have this time to back out of the deal if you want. There is an Andy Griffith Show episode, the one where Barney tries his hand at real estate, and he comes up with this great scheme of putting the Tinkers in the Evers’ house, the Evers in the Chances’ house, the Chances in the Taylors’ house, and then the Taylors—Aunt Bee and Andy and Opie—can go to the Tinkers’ house, which Aunt Bee has always thought was so lovely. But—

In the end, despite Barney’s busting a gut, everyone stays put. What it comes down to is the fact that everyone is actually just fine where they are and moving seems nothing more than trading one set of problems for another. But—

You discover the house you’re moving to has your mother’s name on it. It’s The Marion. Your Marion may not have the fireplace, but it is, as the ad copy says, “ … like home—its lines are familiar and substantial. And good news!—expenses have been curbed by eliminating all unnecessary details. There’s nothing elaborate or fussy about this cozy, informal house—it’s just plain comfortable—and quite roomy, too … ” and, anyway, you’re moving, that’s it, and those people in the lab coats can just sit back and smile. Phew.

sears house

But—how will Josie adjust to city life? Well, we were there Halloween night and he didn’t much mind the trick-or-treaters, just seemed to want to figure out how to get in on this gambit of walking up to a house, getting treats tossed at you. How will I re-adjust? We’ll see. All I know right now is that Josie and I are moving into five rooms and a bath (such luxury!) with a basement and a shed and an old haunted homestead in a marvelous backyard that slopes down to what I can only call fenced-in, thoughtful wildness with a set of swings and a short bridge from nowhere to nowhere, more like a platform, really, perched up on a side slope where I can stand and look out over the lowlands, proclaim Hear ye! hear ye! all ye chippies and rabbits! I proclaim Josie, the best of all dogs, to be Lord of these Lowlands, and he shall you obey, from now through all eternity! and those scampering chippies and rabbits will giggle with glee.

A view over the backyard.

For better or worse, I have been longing to return to a community, to live in a neighborhood with sidewalks for walking, people for greeting, and, for Josie, dog butts to sniff. I have been longing to walk to a library, to stores, to shops, a bakery!; and then there’s the lake. And then there’s the lopping of 158 miles off my weekly commute to the farmers market. But—

We will miss the deer, the yips of coyotes, the murmur of the river, the fields of pristine snow.

Where the heck are the deer?


Meanwhile, new chapters have been added to the wax book:
A Candle’s Chemical History
Arsenic in Old Candles

1 comment:

  1. What the what?!?! Well, this IS a surprise. I'm a little sad as I envied your "alone" lifestyle and enjoyed your stories of everyday living on the "farm". I am so ready to be away from having close neighbors. But, I love the character of your cute new house and can understand wanting to be a little closer to everything after awhile. Can't wait to see more and read about your new adventures. Cheers to your new life! ~ P