There are days when you can feel the wind even when you are indoors…days where a glance out of the window sends chills throughout your body. Looking at the green meadow outside of the kitchen window, you can see the grass moving in waves as the wind releases itself onto the cool earth.
The windowpanes rattle in their frames, reminding you that winter is coming….soon you will feel the cold air rushing in through the cracks of the 100 year old home…and the only thing you can counter it with is another log on the fire and another blanket on your lap as you pet your Labrador and listen to the static impregnated music from the radio sitting on the counter.
It is overcast outside, with small hints of sunlight dancing off of that meadow from time to time, but not nearly enough to warm your skin as you stand in the window. For some reason you feel it is enough to ensure you don’t turn on a light, and it makes the room feel cool – even if the temperature hasn’t changed in days. You slide into an old cotton sweater your mother used to wear, not so much for the extra layer of clothing, but for the memory of her standing in that very same window, with that very same sweater.
You can see bits of plastic that have become caught on the rusty barbed wire fence across the driveway – the wind whipping at them almost as if it shows signs of fury, but powerless to tear the plastic away. Years ago that fence was meant to keep cattle away from the house, yet decades later it is still keeping control of what crosses its path. Parts of that fence are falling down, but you can’t bring yourself to remove the remaining wire. It has become part of the atmosphere of this old house, and every time you look at it you are reminded of your late father.
He put that fence up in a hotter than normal July so many years ago. You remember being a small girl watching him work under the oppressive sun as the sweat poured down his brow and he wiped it with his forearm – leaving a streak of moisture on his arm to collect more dirt before he smeared it onto his forehead again. You can remember the day so vividly, almost as if it was just last week. You can recall how he would lift his hat to tousle his hair – somehow thinking if he let his damp hair breathe it would cool him down.
Memories surround this old house, which is why even after the prodding of family and friends, you have never been able to sell it. Sure you had a home in town that you could live more comfortably in, but new homes never have the emotion built into the old ones – and as the weeks since your mother’s death turned into months, you find yourself spending more and more time out here. Other than the food in the cupboards, nothing inside of the home looks to be newer than the 70s, and you now realized how possessions never meant anything to your parents. They never had much money, but it didn’t bother them since what little they did have was never of concern. They bought what they needed – perhaps that was a trait developed by living through the depression and the World Wars….however for some reason you feel that it wouldn’t have mattered.
As you walk back towards the fire, the floorboards squeak with each step, almost as if they are crying for the loss of the people who lived there for almost 60 years. The only surviving member is Mitch – the old faithful companion who only barks when he is hungry, but never when someone comes to the door. Mitch is old enough that the journey from the couch to the hearth of the fireplace is about all he can manage in an hour, but he seems so very content…the same feeling you get by being here.
You realize it will never be your house – surely the deed to the house and surrounding land is in your name, but this will forever remain your parent’s home. The thought of someone buying it has never appealed to you – however you doubt anyone would want a 100 year old house almost 20 miles from the nearest town, and 4 from the nearest neighbor. Since the rent from the land is more than enough to pay for the taxes and upkeep, you figure you will just let the house age with you.
As you sit there thinking of all of the years spent with this house, you are startled by the phone ringing from the kitchen. Even the phone is the old rotary dial with the real bell inside – enough to alert you to the call even while standing outside on the porch. Reaching for the receiver you softly answer, listening as the caller asks for your mother. It has happened a few times in the last few months, but it doesn’t get any easier to tell people she has passed on….especially considering you don’t know if they are a salesperson or a longtime friend from years gone. As you accept their condolences and hang up, you recognize that 12 seconds of conversation is the only human contact you have had in over a week – however this suddenly doesn’t seem all that disappointing.
As you pull the sweater up around your neck a little tighter, you glance once again at the grass in the meadow dancing up the hill, and you realize the wind carries more than just dust and cool air…it interacts with you and the surroundings…and it presents the memories of a family that once was.