Not a year here, yet. Not quite a year we’ve owned it, even–that comes in a few more days. More than a year since we first stepped onto it and I said, “I like it here.”
In Settlement 4, which is unfinished, Anna tells a refugee that, over a long life as a military brat, she found that two years in a place was the needful time to find it homelike. This is a naturalist’s point of view: in two years you have seen the seasons come and go once, and seen them come and go once again, this time with foreknowledge of how it happens. Then you can relax, and feel that you’re beginning to know the place.
The longest I’ve ever lived at one address was seven years. Not long. How long will we stay at the Brambles? I don’t know. I say to my husband “until your knees can’t handle the stairs,” but it’s a generous property, easy to subdivide. Maybe we will build a retirement home in the back pasture.
It’s just a broken down old farm. Sort of like the one my mother grew up on. Sort of like the one my husband’s mother grew up on. An assortment of outbuildings. Some privacy. Some space. We don’t have history on it, of course, but I still like to ramble. I liked to ramble on my grandparents’ farm when I visited them in the summers. I liked that feeling of space, of the compounded interest of time spent in a place by previous people, some of them unknown.
The Brambles certainly has history. The people who lived here before us had four children. Their heights, over the decade they owned the place, are ticked on the kitchen wall. Their four-wheeler helmets are in the garage, their Lego blocks in the heating vents, their previously undiscovered plastic Easter eggs under every tree. Earlier this spring my mother-in-law dug dog bones out of the garden. No one has passed through this place the way they pass through the suburban neighborhoods I come from. People leave their marks here.
We’re nearing the end of our third season, and I’m seeing the early stages of the plants that were in full blossom when we first arrived: thistles are sprouting in the neglected edges, the loosestrife is greening, the blackberries are preparing to bear fruit. It won’t be long until we’re picking them again, watching the Scotch broom seedpods burst, and petting the Nikko blue hydrangea when we pass. And then the golden days of the Pacific Northwest’s neverending autumn will come, and then the rains and darkness, and then the glorious spring. And when that spring is over, we’ll have been here two years.
And maybe, we’ll really be home.