This is the view I grew up with. Minus Dan, of course. This is the valley that my parents bought when I was fifteen. All eighty-two acres are just as lovely.
When we moved there, the valley was filled with scrubby trees. We cleaned it out, dug a whole out of the hill, and put in our house. For the better part of a year, we lived in the shell of that house while we continued to work on it. We didn’t have running water or electricity at first.
We read books aloud to each other by lamplight in the winter evenings. We watched the fireflies as they filled the valley in the summer nights.
We hauled water up from a spring on the property and heated it on a wood burning stove. Dishes were washed by candelight. Showers were taken outside in a little solar heated shower, often at night, for privacy – not from neighbors because there aren’t any.
For a while, there were no windows on the main part of the house, but my siblings and I insisted on sleeping out there anyway. In the winter we heated stones on the wood stove, wrapped them in towels, and put them at the bottoms of our beds to keep our toes warm. In the summer, bats often joined us in our “bedroom” at night. We drifted off to sleep watching the fireflies glowing softly below us.
We loved ever minute of it! It was my parent’s dream come true… a piece of land, and a fairly self-sufficient home. We poured our sweat and blood into that land, and we love it. Those of us kids who have left home, look back on it with a fondness that we may never feel for any other piece of property. The siblings still at home may not feel that attachment, but that’s because they were still essentially babies while we were taming that bit of land.
Mom used every bit of daylight to plant her cottage garden in the front of the house, and for years she has nursed it along, and now it rivals many botanical gardens in it’s variety and beauty.
Dan and I sat on that very bench in my mom’s garden, under neath the fragrant blossoms of the crabapple tree and the sparkling canopy of stars, nearly every evening during the spring of our courtship. We watched the otherworldly dances of the fireflies that filled the valley below us. Many times since, we’ve commented that that valley must have the most amazing firefly display in the world. It’s incredible.