goodbye, old house   7 comments

Posted at 11:13 am in future,Nova Scotia,Round Hill house

sunset to the west as seen from the kitchen windows

If you’ve dropped by my blog recently, you may have found that it disappeared for a couple of days. The server that I use had some kind of problem that caused many websites to malfunction. My blogs happened to be among those with difficulties. Almost everything seems to be back to normal, except that comments aren’t showing on the most recent post. It will be interesting to see if anyone will be able to leave a comment to this post. Please feel free to make an attempt.

Having left Nova Scotia on Monday, I am now back in Ontario. The dogs and I spent the night at Fundy National Park, then drove the rest of the way to Ottawa on Tuesday. This week, I’ve been taking care of various tasks and getting repairs and maintenance done on the van. Also, I’ve been making the rounds of stores as I replace some of the gear that has taken a beating over two long seasons of camping.

west wall and old kitchen window lit by the warmth of a sunset – and Sage gazes out at me

It was surprisingly difficult to say goodbye to the old house. I haven’t written about this on my blog, but when I first arrived at the house in late April, I picked up some very odd vibes. Now, I’m not really one to talk about such things, but this house definitely gave off some weird vibrations. The only way I can really define it is that there was something extremely hostile and perhaps even malevolent about the place. I sensed those feelings the first moment I walked through the door. As the house was in quite a state upon my arrival, I slept in my van for the first three or four weeks. By day, the house seemed fairly innocuous, but late in the night, with the moonlight shining upon the stark, weathered siding, and the empty black windows like gaping cavities, there was an undeniable eeriness about the place. Mostly, I just shrugged it off and attributed the hostility as an expression of architectural grumpiness over having been badly neglected for many years. After a few weeks of cleaning, repairs and painting, the house began to seem friendlier and more welcoming. As summer drew to a close and it came time to leave, I felt a little sorry for the old place. Last thing before leaving, I stood in the front hall, looking in toward the heart of the house and spoke loudly, “Goodbye, House. I’m leaving for the winter, but I will return in the spring to continue working on you.”

east wall and a little of the old kitchen – Sage out in the back garden

So, what has been accomplished this year?

I can be a little hard on myself when it comes to achieving goals. In retrospect, I had unrealistic expectations for what could be accomplished in one short summer season. However, it does feel like a lot happened over the summer. Much of the exterior siding has been repaired and painted. Most of the downstairs was painted after a considerable amount of repairs to the plaster. One room had to be gutted and replastered. My furniture was shipped from Ottawa, furniture reassembled, and some belongings unpacked.

Aslan, the lion, moved from our farm, to preside over the beginnings of a new garden

The lawns and gardens of the property were gradually cleaned up and received some new plantings – 3 rhododendrons, and a dozen large perennials acquired from the gardens of Cheryl Stone in Bear River. A few small pathways were cut through the wildness of the property beyond the garden. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I found bear scat just a stone’s throw from the back door of the house, and all along the shoreline of the little river that flows along the property. It seems we share our garden, the apples, plums, blackberries and raspberries with many wild creatures. At night, the garden is filled with bats and on several occasions, I’ve found one or two flying in circles in my bedroom as I worked at the computer. They usually leave on their own after a few minutes.

view of front garden from the room that was replastered

It would have been nice to get further along with the interior, but I think it went okay. The worst of the water-damaged walls were removed and repaired over the summer. One downstairs room that was thoroughly unusable before, is now fairly respectable and should be ready to use as a bedroom with a good view of the front garden next summer. I didn’t make much headway with rebuilding windows – some are removed and apart at the moment, so that there are just aluminum storm windows over some openings, but that’s okay too. I’ll get to all of it in good time.

the room that decided it wanted to be a kitchen

Upon arrival in April, it soon became apparent that the established kitchen of the house wasn’t really much good. The smaller, older part of the house is in really tough condition. The floor is sagging down to a ridiculous degree and probably in danger of eventually falling in. This wasn’t actually a surprise as I knew the score on that part of the house. Before long, it seemed that another room of the house wanted to be a kitchen – a large room with 4 doors going out from it, and two large west-facing windows looking out upon the neighbours’ meadow. Although still rustic, it makes a nice workspace. Hopefully, once the plumbing of the house is repaired, it will be an efficient and inspiring place in which to cook.

pink light of sunset reflecting on the now-repaired west wall of the house

Over the course of the summer, I have come to know and understand this old house. It is a unique place – filled with ever-moving light as the sun traces an arc, casting its rays through the many windows and doors. It’s the kind of house that has so many doors that there is barely a place in the downstairs where you cannot walk into a room through one door and leave through another. The sight lines through the downstairs are fascinating and at night. you can wander around the outside of the place looking right through – in one window and out through another. In the late afternoon, the sun setting over the Bay of Fundy often gives off a warm pink light that is reflected on the siding of the large west wall. The same warmth fills all of the rooms for a few minutes each evening.

Sage waiting by the van as we prepare to depart for the season

Yes, the old house has plenty of problems and short-comings. Most were known to me before the dogs and I set foot on the property in the spring. However, all in all, I’ve grown to like the place very much. I get the feeling that it has grown to like having us there too. Hopefully, all will go okay this winter – for the house and for us – and we’ll return to carry on with the repairs that will eventually make the place into a comfortable living space, if even just as a summer residence, which is really all I had ever hoped for.

And what about us? How did we manage at the house over the summer? I think it was good for all of us. Sage grew up a little over the summer. Sabrina did well and seems to have benefited from the laser therapy treatments which she received at the Port Royal Animal Clinic in Annapolis Royal. She’s got a new spring in her step these days. I seem to have done alright over the summer. It was a quiet time spent with the dogs and with very little contact with anyone other than a couple of neighbours whom the dogs and I got to know through frequent visits. For those who might be hoping that I will get all better, no, that hasn’t happened. I still continue to miss Don and feel quite sad, but at least I have been able to spend time in a peaceful place where I could work on a project that interests me. That’s about all that I expected from the old place – that it would give us a quiet haven where we could spend time working and creating. For this, I would like to thank the old house. Goodbye old place. With any luck we will see you again in the spring.

NOTE: Thanks to those of you who tried to leave a comment, but were unable to do so. I’m hoping that function will return sometime soon. This did happen once before and I didn’t have to do anything to fix it. It wasn’t working for awhile, and then things were back to normal a day or so later. Fingers crossed.

the house as seen from the front gates as I shut then for the last time as we departed

Written by bev on October 3rd, 2010