16 November 2010

Heart's Ease Cottage

  A long time ago, in what seems like a different lifetime, my family and I moved from the city to the country.  The little yellow cottage we bought, needed a lot of tender loving care and the land it sat on was poor, sun baked clay, but to us it was the beginning of a dream come true. From the start of our lives together we talked and planned, drew floor plans and mapped out gardens. We were in the military, moving from place to place, without any ground to grow in except a few terracotta pots on the stoop of our apartment, but we were preparing for the day that we would have some ground of our own. We read everything we could get our hands on about organic gardening, raising livestock, and food preservation and hoped and prayed for a place in the country where we could a simple homesteading life.
  The path to our dreams was not a direct one, there were many false starts and unforseen events that diverted us from our goals. Hurricane Hugo came 180 miles inland and destroyed most of the house just days after a new addition was dried in. Insurance didn't cover any of the new construction, so we couldn't afford to have help rebuilding. Da and I did most of the reconstruction ourselves, except for the roofing and siding, which we hired out. It was five months before we had electricity, due to the fact that we had to totally rewire the house, after we got what was left of our house under cover.We lived somewhere else while we got the roof back on and the floors mostly replaced; then our funds ran out so we had to move into the shell. We had no electricity, no heat, no doors (exterior or interior), no running water (wells need electricity...). Our baby, who was 6 months old at the time of the hurricane was at 8 months, in need of surgery that we couldn't have done until we had a warm clean place for him to recouperate. We lived in the only room in the house that still had four walls, hung a wool army blanket over the door to try to keep out the January cold and everyone but the baby slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. In Mid February we finally had got electrical inspections and on Valentines day we had power! There was no sheetrock on the walls or ceilings, my kitchen sink was sitting on 2x4's, but we had exterior wall insulation and an indoor toilet, so we thought we were in heaven! It would be another 3 years before we had interior doors or floor coverings. Meanwhile, life went on, Da worked, our oldest went to school and the baby and I spent the day in a construction zone. I cut and numbered each piece so that when Da got home from work he could nail the stacks of marked 2x4s in place by the numbers... E.M.napped to the sound of a chop saw and learned to walk on rough waferboard subflooring, N. helped to build his room and left a little time capsule in the wall before we closed it in with sheetrock, and Da and I worked night and day to get the house finished.
  That Spring, Da and I dug into the unyielding clay with shovels and mattox and formed up our first little garden. It wasn't very big but it produced and more importantly it was a ray of hope, when things looked pretty bleak . Years passed, the garden and kids grew, the house got finished and the grounds took shape. It has been more than twenty years since we moved to Heart's Ease Cottage, there were other setbacks and heartaches, some large and some small, but through it all we continued to work the ground, plan, hope and pray. Today, as I look out the window of my cozy little cottage, at the mature fruit trees and the raised vegetable beds of good rich soil, I know that God heard our prayers.
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