Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Outline

In 1973, my husband and I built a modest home on a five acre lot on the extreme western border of Rhode Island, in the rural Town of Foster,  population 2300 at the time. We live there again now. This outline is not about life during those thirty seven years, it's mostly just a map, the latitude and longitude of our existence --- the where. The map needs color, relief, and a legend.

Our back property line is also the Connecticut state line. When we had lived here for nearly four years my husband's parents wanted to move out of the city so we bought a large parcel of land down the road and built two new houses (well, actually rebuilt an existing shell of one house, which had never been finished). They were hidden down a long lane in a hollow of twenty six acres of fields, woods, stone walls and the Quanduck Brook, still bordering the state line. I called it Hidden Hollow, not original, but what is? It fit. Sixteen years later we hankered to be near the coast (RI) and since the kids were all in college, we sold the house. Unable to find an affordable home near the ocean, we rented for a few months but had no luck in the search; we moved back to the "country". We bought an old abandoned house on the road we had lived on in Foster for twenty years, midway between our previous homes but about twenty feet from the street. The derelict house was lovely after we spent a year restoring it (living there through most of it), the result of back-breaking work, but the intrusion of civilization a few feet from the front windows was more than I could bear.

The pendulum swung again and we moved to CT, clearing land and building a house on twenty something acres across from the Natchaug State Forest in Hampton. Our nearest neighbor was perhaps a half mile away. Although we were just visible from the seldom traveled road, the silence and seclusion were out of a storybook. We moved two years later --- for a variety of reasons, including a long commute to work for my husband, my fear of isolation in the dark of night, and strong emotional attachments to RI that we probably didn't give a fair chance to fade. Part of the land now belongs to the CT Audubon Society.

Incredibly, we found a house on a couple of acres in an idyllic coastal town in RI's east bay, walking distance to the ocean. It needed work of course, which we completed, living in it all the while. Then we put up the For Sale sign. I wanted to go home---to the country, back to Foster.

I've never before written down an account of our house odyssey in an outline such as this. I kept a diary, a tale of the painful and the joyful events taking place in our lives during these moves, but the chronology of relocation written there is muffled by the story of the highs and lows of life, which constitute the focus of those pages. We were more or less nomads (or perhaps mad hatters)for more than seven years before settling for a decade in the spring of 2000.

In 1999 we bought a forty acre lot in Foster Center, cleared a homesite and built another house, more or less the same modified reproduction cape cod style that we have always found appealing (we rented a house in CT during construction). Our driveway was a quarter mile long, no neighbors within sight or sound, a perfectly peaceful environment. We lived there for ten years, until the beginning of the real estate market free fall when we decided to take our equity out of the house before the dire predictions about the economy became reality. We sold the house in February, 2009.

It so happened that the elderly owner of the house we first built in Foster in 1973 had died, the house remaining vacant for two years. Yes --- we bought the house back. After thirty six years it needed restoration. Most of the work is done now, not quite enough to put up the For Sale sign yet, but I have learned never to say never. We have determined that we are the only people living on our road now(44 +/- homes in 2010) who lived here in 1973, when there were 14 homes. So have we come home, come full circle? Time will tell. For now, I have the urge to write about life on the line ---  and knots.

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