Sundog, snowbelt and other compound words that mean home / by Christina Rosalie

We spent four hours at the house yesterday, with the inspector. We peered into every dusty corner, poked every possibly leaky length of copper pipe, tested spots on the ceiling and floor for moisture, pushed through heaps of insulation, and came up with nothing. This is one of the few times when nothing is good in life. Nothing at a house inspection is the opposite of disappointment.

Of course, there were small things: the house is exactly as old as I am—-built the year I was born—and neither of us are entirely dent free. But I like to think we’ve both aged gracefully. The house is in a snowbelt—-it snows up in that particular little mountain valley more than in the surrounding areas—-and was built to withstand the wind and snow, with it’s stone front facing the open valley. The roof will need replacing in a year or two, and the odd window latch needs fixing, but overall it’s in excellent shape. Which is about how I feel.

Since having Bean I’ve started to notice that I look older in the mirror in the morning. I have a small scattering of smiling lines, delicate and barely there, spreading out at the corners of my eyes. And the dark circles under my eyes—that I’m genetically disposed to (my father always had them), seem to have gotten darker, and more permanent with each short night of interrupted sleep. But I’m also leaner than I’ve ever been and stronger. I can run out in the cold for miles, and love it. And I’m not obsessed with being young forever. I’m grateful to finally be old enough to know better: to not always run bull-headed into things, putting my foot in my mouth. Old enough to finally have a smidgen of experience under my belt about this house business.

It is the second house we will have owned, and I’m hopeful that it will be the last for a long while. Long enough to put up a tree swing, and figure out which kinds of heirloom apples grow on the sunny slope outside the kitchen window. Longer. Of course, nothing is set in stone yet—the closing won’t happen for another month or so, and until then things are always up to the universe. But the day we signed the contract I saw a bright gleaming sun dog in the sky, and just when I saw it, DH walked into the room and the two of us just stood their grinning at the rainbow smudge at the edge of the snow clouds.

We grinned because with every significant move we have made, we’ve seen some form of rainbow. When we decided to rent an apartment together in Manhattan for the summer while I was still in school, we saw a rainbow—huge and bright in a stormy early summer sky. When we singed the lease on a little beach side cottage—which took us away from the humdrumness of our suburban second floor apartment in Connecticut, we saw a rainbow. And when we signed the contract on our first home, again, we saw a rainbow. The timing has been uncanny. Just in the moment of committing, the universe moves to respond.

So we’re all bubbly tonight because we walked the isles of Home Depot for an hour, talking cabinets and soapstone and appliances. Sometimes, I want nothing more than to be able to STOP talking about our plans. Sometimes it seems it’s all we talk about of late. But tonight it was fun. We were on the same page: imagining sap maple floors and the kitchen open to the sunny dining room.

This is where we picture Bean growing up: spitting water melon seeds, building tree forts, climbing trees. It will be home to him, and it will be where DH and I will reach middle age. It feels silly and magical and solid to picture us there, older. I try to do the fast forward thing in my head that nature shows do, to demonstrate a plant’s life cycle or the changing of seasons. There we are, on the front deck we have yet to build, looking at the mountains with our morning coffee.

Till then, we’ve got months of renovations. Months of demolition and salvage and drywalling, and we’re bound to go crazy more than once. But tonight when I think of the sundog house in the snowbelt, I feel giddy and peaceful the way I feel after a long journey. I am imagining home.