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How A House Breathes Life

We recently had the pleasure of meeting with a man who grew up in this house (in addition to some of his family) and it was so neat to hear about some of the history of this home and to hear how things have changed over the years.

The family had last been here nearly 40 years ago, so a lot has changed, but there is still so much that brought back memories for them.  We walked through the barn, the chicken coop, granary, and house with them and definitely got to learn a little more about this place than we did before.  Scott is the history buff, so I think he was especially excited for the opportunity to learn a little more.  I love learning about it too, because this house and land used to belong to somebody else, they lived here and loved it. They grew here and grew old here.  Their family was raised here.  And now we have the opportunity to do the same.

IMG_0091I know not everyone feels the same nostalgia for the past.  Some want to forget, others just don’t remember.  But for me, I have very fond memories of growing up; I loved the land we lived on more than you can imagine, and my grandparents live right around the corner.  We’d walk through the cornfield in summer to go visit them, and we’d walk through their woods almost daily.  I lived in the same house from the day I was brought home from the hospital to the day I got married.  It was hard to leave home, not because I was afraid of being married or leaving, but because it meant so much to me, because it was home.

Within a few years of my getting married, my parents sold their house, and my grandparents passed away…it was the end of an era.  Other people moved in, and it was heartbreaking, but it was time for change.  I’d love to go back someday and walk through both of those houses again.  There is just something about being back in a familiar place that brings back memories in a way no picture or story ever can.  The sights and smells can bring back such emotion.

IMG_0528For us, it seems natural that you’d want to go back to that old house, get another look, relive some old memories.  It’s a connection to the past, a portal through time.  We were thanked for allowing them to come and get another look, but it seemed to us that we should thank them.  It was an opportunity to know what life was like in this house before, what it was like for a child to live here.  Those are the memories Scott and I will help our kids make here.

We found out that there were a few walls moved in the house, where the flour bin had been in the kitchen, and that there was a dry kitchen (no running water) upstairs in what is now the “movie night room”, and that his grandparents lived in that part of the house, just to mention a few.  They were excited to see that the same wood trim exists in the house today as it did back then.

They brought an old areal photo of the property from the 1950’s, and it is so intriguing to see how things have changed or stayed the same.  We found out that they called this Spring Lake Dairy during his parents time here, and that there used to be a sign on the barn with those words.  There were 4 buildings on the property that are now gone: part of the milk house, their old chicken coop, garden shed and wood shed.  What we use now use as a chicken coop/garden shed used to be the pig barn, and there was no garage attached to the granary.IMG_1217

They told us about sliding down the roof of the granary for fun (please don’t repeat that to our kids) and about how my sewing room is the room where the man was born in 1940, on what happens to be my birthday as well.  But I think my favorite memory that was shared was when he stood at the bottom of the stairs next to me.  As I was waiting for him to go up, he stopped and stared.  He turned to me and thanked me with a tear in his eye for allowing them to come back and said “My mother used to line the stairs with cookies at Christmas time.  It was so cold in here she could just store them here, and we would open the door for more when we ran out.”   What a sweet memory.  It meant so much to him just to see those stairs again, and I’m so glad he got a chance to walk through his old home once again.

IMG_0485Something that struck me about this property when we moved here is how many memories it brought back for me.  I didn’t grow up here, but in a way, it was like being back home.  There are ponds on the land, and a trail to walk like my grandparents had.  Going into the barn the first time brought back to me the days of sweeping the barn floor at my grandparents house when I was little.  But more than that, watching the dust dancing through the air as the sun shone through the cracks-it stopped me in my tracks.  It took me back in time in a way I didn’t know was possible.  And then there was the basement-the smell reminded me of going into my grandparents basement, the steep stairs, the puddle of water that always seemed to be at the bottom of the steps, or going down and talking with my grandma as she ironed their laundry.  I get to relive some of those memories here.  It’s not the same place, but it is the same spirit.  It felt like home the first time I stepped foot on this property.

Everyday I wake up so grateful to live here.  I am so grateful that my children will have their own memories of growing up here, and that I will get to share those memories with them.  I am thankful that we were able to allow that family back in and to relive some moments so precious to them, thankful to them to sharing a piece of that with us.

A house isn’t living, it is inanimate, yet somehow it breathes life.  There are memories made in a house that can’t be erased.  A house is just a house until you add memories, then it becomes a home.  When we moved, we didn’t just move into a house, we moved into a home and I could feel that from the moment my foot touched the ground.

It has been less than a year, but I already have a few wonderful memories from being here.  I look forward to continue watching the kids grow up here, and I am very happy that E will get to build all of his memories here until he is old enough to move out.  Their visit reminded me of why I want this life, not the life of a family who never spends any time together.  We get to connect to each other and this land in a way that is so much different from a life in the city, and it is what feels right and feels like home to both Scott and me.  I think for me as a person who has felt out of place in time, it only makes sense that I would want to live in a place with a beautiful history, and I get to connect with that history when I am baking bread in the kitchen or feeding the chickens outside.

Someday we may share more about the history of this place, and we will certainly share some of our memories with you.  We have learned so much about the history of this land since moving, and it has such an interesting history.  Land is a funny thing, it was around long before us and it will be here long after us, what we often fail to remember is that we are just one part of the story, so for us, it is exciting to know what came before us.

I want to hear about your homes!  Did you build it yourself, or did you move into something older?  Does any of your past homes hold that nostalgia for you?  What are your favorite memories from where you live now or your childhood home?  Please share with us below!  (Maybe you used to live here or come visit…I’d love to know what your favorite memories are!)

Love~Danielle

7 thoughts on “How A House Breathes Life

  1. Oh how bittersweet! I hope to see a re-make of the “Spring Lake Dairy” sign;)

    Your house is so definitely a HOME:)

  2. What a wonderful Story. Makes me want to go see the house I grew up in. I’d like to follow the creek and see if it’s the same.
    Your children are so lucky to have such a wonderful place to grow up and to have you and Scott making it so special for them.

    1. I have bought the house I grew up in about a year ago. I was 2 years old when this house was being finished. We started with a kitchen in the basement. The sink and cabinets are still there. The table that we ate at is still in the house. Some of the trees we planted as kids are 50 years older and I can’t jump over them like I did when I was a kid. Some things have changed but many things bring back memories of the fun I had growing up with my 4 brothers and 1 sister.

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