Coveting the Perfect House

I covet a house on Country Way. Please understand, I live in a perfectly fine house. My house is not being foreclosed on.

Anticipating increasing difficulty in climbing stairs (I have problem legs), I had my two-story saltbox renovated a decade ago and now live downstairs in roomy splendor. Alone. A fireplace, a walk-in large tiled shower with a built-in tiled bench, a soaring living room ceiling, a separate office where my Muse comes to sit beside me as I spin my stories at the computer. All this is for me alone, now that my two girls have grown up and moved out and on to live their own lives.

The upstairs, which I turned into a sort of B & B, goes mostly unused, a non-green waste of space. My house is too much house for one person.

But that is not the only reason I covet the adorable, one-story, English cottage-type house on Country Way. I fell in love with the Echinacea that proliferate in joyous disarray in its front garden. Echinacea, also known as purple coneflowers, are most commonly a deep pink, daisy-like flower, a plant native to eastern and central North America. I can picture some sturdy pioneer woman picking a handful to brighten her spirit as she trudged westward behind her family’s prairie schooner.
I’m a sucker for wild flowers and for flowers that don’t require pampering. I even appreciate the lowly dandelion, up to a point. I don’t consider the cheerful yellow blossoms that pop up in my lawn in the spring the enemy that most lawn-tenders do as they aim their toxic streams of Roundup. Although I do admit I’m less enthusiastic about them when, the day after the lawn has been mowed, they stretch their puffball heads on long necks skyward in hopes the breeze will scatter their parachuted seeds.

Back in Woodstock, NY, when my daughters were little and I was in my frontier phase, busy with homesteading-type activities—baking bread, tapping maple trees to boil down the sap for syrup, picking strawberries for homemade jam, and the like—my sister-in-law and I decided to make dandelion wine. We enlisted our children’s help.

We went to the town’s recreation field where a blanket of yellow spread out in front of us. The children soon became bored with picking, so while we adults continued gathering the flower heads, the kids did somersaults, made whistling noises from blades of grass held taut between their thumbs, inspected insects, and searched for four-leaf clovers.

Back home we cooked up the blossoms with water, sugar, cloves, orange juice, and cut-up chunks of oranges and lemons, peel and all. We strained the concoction, let it cool until just warm, added yeast, and allowed it to ferment in a dark place. A few weeks later, voilà—dandelion wine.

The memory of making and drinking the wine was so sweet, that a couple of years ago I decided to try a repeat performance, here in Scituate. I didn’t have to go far for the blossoms. Hundreds of sunny-faced dandelions awaited me in my side yard.

Although I followed all the steps of the procedure as before, sad to say the resulting wine didn’t taste like the remembered nectar of the past. This must be life’s lesson you have to relearn time and again: the re-creation of a remembered event is rarely as enjoyable as the first time around, so appreciate the original as it is happening.

Maybe I should apply a similar lesson regarding the house on Country Way. Perhaps I should appreciate more the fine house I live in, even if it isn’t perfect because who’s to say the “perfect” house I covet is as attractive as it seems on the outside? Built more than a century ago, it could well be cramped and dark inside, with tiny small-windowed rooms.

And as for that house’s wonderful garden, filled with its abundance of Echinacea, I could easily replicate that display in my own garden. Well, all right, not easily, but doable.

In the meantime, however, I’ll keep an eye on that house.

In case it ever goes on the market.

On second thought, never mind. I slowly drove by the house again recently and saw, to my dismay, way more house—what looks like a large addition that I hadn’t noticed before—attached to the back of the cottage. So, in fact, the “perfect” little house isn’t “perfect” or little after all. Sigh. I guess the new lesson is: Do not covet your neighbors’ house because their house is not more desirable than your own.

Or maybe the lesson is: Keep searching until you find the perfect one.

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