The sun is shining.
The air is warming.
I have my first flower order of the year.
And we are facing facts about the structures on our property.
I step out the back door. The deck is new, composite wood with a reddish hue. A wooden gazebo with a black metal roof rises from it. Its wood has a yellowish hue, like an ill-patient. The ramshackle fence behind it leans more towards the gazebo day by day. In time, its elevated pitch that made way to accommodate the roots of the 60-year-old mulberry tree will sag, or the entire thing will fall over, as its comrade did in the last storms.
I ordered two climbing roses in a peachy tinge called “Polka” from Menagerie Farm and Flower. “She is the whole package and we can’t recommend her enough,” the website says.
I hope this is the case. I’ll plant each in front of the fence we intend to rebuild and train them upwards on the new fence that will be there in no time, up and up, until it frames the gazebo. It’s a good plan and I hope it works.
When the buildings overwhelm me, I plant sage and rosemary.
I plug two basil plants into our covered garden area, an area where no rain reaches but in summer the sun will beat down mercilessly. All sun and no water, the worst of both worlds for a home garden.
My finger is wrapped in a bandaid from this morning, reminding me of the quick cleaning and hauling that took place in the morning that interrupted school hours. We moved one shop to another building and scooted the rest over. My furniture is falling apart after the cold and wetness of this wild winter. The wood is saturated still. The edges of the uneven cement that line the floor are covered in damp dust where the torn metal roofing leaked. Of course, the furniture is ruined.
I realize now that my parents stored furniture in their barn only after my father and his neighbor-friend built an interior box with heating to house it.
We’re living and learning here on the farm. In a small town, that means that we’re a bit on display for others to see. Many will drive this road, comment on us cutting down our tree or ask what we’ll do with those stumps we left out. We aren’t alone here in Hughson, and that’s okay. I take my daughter to get her haircut and schedule lessons or a piano tuning with someone who is in the salon at the same time. We go to the consignment-antique store where I update the clerk who asks about the projects she has seen me stock from their store.
Our barn cannot be more than a barn.
It can’t quite be a barn because of the cement and it can’t quite be an event space because of everything else. Maybe I can stop placing my expectations on it and start discovering what it can be, just based on the qualities it presents.
It looks awfully nice in the section that is my husband’s new workshop and the shelves he hung today.
Maybe that is the future of the barn. Maybe that is what the last owners had in mind the whole time.
The building next door is the same. It works just fine, albeit with an immense amount of clutter and empty plastic pots from Home Depot’s garden center.
My garage fills up and empties. A one-day event like Vintage at the Yard may help me tidy it a bit. Some antiques I’m attached to. Some I hold onto for one day. Others could move to a better home as we’ve outgrown their use.
On days like today, I feel like we’re getting a better sense of the place.
We put away clutter and hope it stays clean, but I know the moment is temporary. The bikes are parked now, but will soon be scattered about. The ribbons and yarn and handmade ornaments are swept up, but they’ll return again. It is inevitable – the signs of life in a house full of life, a property full of life and potential.
Rather than try to impose my will, my daydreams or my Instagram feed, I’ll pause. I’ll do the best I can to care for the exterior of the place, and see what it has in store, what its blueprint indicates, like we try to do for those who live within its walls.