Monday, May 17, 2010

The Canary-Colored Dream House


I have watched rain advance steadily toward us, across the lake, over the fields and orchards, and as a peal of thunder rolls over us, the first drops splatter against the roof. The scent of ozone and raindrops arrives. The blackbirds eating seed outside scatter briefly as the shower becomes a downpour, but a very determined and obviously weather-proof quail continues to peck his fill.

As always, when I can't get outside to work I busy myself in other ways. For example I surf the "tiny homes" blogs and forums. I have an on-going fascination with very small houses, which explains the RV, but while practical, a travel trailer lacks the charm of a Jay Shafer Tumbleweed tiny house.

Sadly, even the larger Tumbleweed homes lack room for the amenities we depend on, like the washer/drier, the dishwasher, hot showers, a functional kitchen and a bed on the main floor. But like an overweight 15-year-old with braces who secretly hopes the captain of the football team will somehow fall madly in love with her, I still yearn for a tiny house with Victorian gingerbread and Dutch doors. We couldn't even live in one, but dreams are rarely practical. :)

My dream home is the wish of a child, a fantasy fueled by a favorite book. All through high school, as I read my way through Will and Ariel Durant's 11 volume Story of Civilization a little green book would reach off the shelf and pluck at my sleeve. I always pulled away, I was a serious student and The Wind in the Willows was obviously a children's book.

But on our weekend honeymoon Tony and I wandered into a book shop in Park Ridge Illinois and bought our first book together, that book that had silently called to me for so long, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. As we read it together we were caught in its spell. It was our book, the book I read to our boys as they lay nursing and as they grew. Never mind that it had no bright pictures, its pictures were painted with words.

As the book's characters Rat and Mole row out onto the river on a summer's evening you read:
 
"The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they began to see surfaces -- meadows wide-spread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted them again in other raiment, as if they had slipped away and put on this pure new apparel and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly waited to see if they would be recognised again under it."

As usual my posts wander as aimlessly as a six-year-old on a summer morning, but I was talking about my dream house and it is in Wind in the Willows that we find it.

[Toad] led the way to the stable-yard accordingly, the Rat following with a most mistrustful expression; and there, drawn out of the coach house into the open, they saw a gipsy caravan, shining with newness, painted a canary-yellow picked out with green, and red wheels.

    'There you are!' cried the Toad, straddling and expanding himself. 'There's real life for you, embodied in that little cart. ... Come inside and look at the arrangements. Planned 'em all myself, I did!'  ... It was indeed very compact and comfortable. Little sleeping bunks - a little table that folded up against the wall - a cooking-stove, lockers, bookshelves, a bird-cage with a bird in it; and pots, pans, jugs and kettles of every size and variety.

And so you see, in this rather long-winded and rambling fashion I have come around to saying my "tiny home longing" was not only forged by living in a small mobile home from the age of 10-18 but also by a Toad's salesmanship. The Dream Home is a Canary-colored cart.

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