Aug 7, 2008

New Home

We are land owners! Dream land owners! OK, in typical real estate talk we're supposed to say we have land under contract and have to do all our due diligence and inspections, and closing's not until end of September (until which we are homeless homeowners, looking for a friend's backyard to pitch our brand new family tent in), but we were up late last night plotting where to put the guest house (barn renovation), sarah's office (downstairs storage shed), hot tub, what fruit trees to plant, where there might be maple trees to make our own syrup, when to plant saspirila (and how to spell it) to make our own rootbeer, arranging a cowshare with a beautiful young new farming couple up the road, opening up another storage shed to be a covered party shed with couches, table, pingpong, firepit... Faerie groves along the paths through the forested slope down to the creek, frisbee in the big grassy open spaces

It's a property that just lends itself to so many visions and playspaces for quirky folks like us. We hope to quickly take in a roommate to add to our community and help pay for improvements, and are ready to find the right family to invest and be full partners. Our dear dear friends Seanna and Laurie and their son Emmet have already pledged money to be
part of the community, likely as a second home (at least until we can convince them to fully leave the evil big city - affectionately known here as The Big Smog). The other family we'd planned to invest with had to back out for now due to financial constraints, but the door is still open for them, and for others, and for the world, for the fantastic neighbours (one of them being a family of two waldorf teachers and 3 waldorf students, one of whom is in Zekiah's kindergarten class)

As usual, we went through an amazing (and quick) discernment process. Viewed the land on Thursday in the midst of the move and knew it was right. Talked it over late at night with our land partners and agreed to move forward. Second viewing Friday, then sat with our agent and submitted an offer of $720,000 for both the main property and an adjoining .2 acre lot. They countered with $750,000 - asking price. In the meantime, we got the sad news from our land partners that we'd have to go it alone for now, so did a huge reassessment of our finances, placed many phone calls and miraculously drummed up $80,000 more downpayment and help with monthly payments from family/friends, meaning we could stretch and make it at full price. We tried to split the difference at 735, which they just rejected, sending a clear message that they believe in the price they set and were not going to negotiate. So, we ummed and awed and ummed some more, should we stretch so much and tap out our family, then suddenly hit a clear patch knowing that we could let go of the adjoining property and easily afford the main land. It means we're giving up control over who's in the other property - ie, the chance to add 2 more families to our community - but the main land can and will accomodate many people - possibly up to four legal full-time families plus various squatters partners woofers and vagabounds. We let go of needing to set the stage for the maximum number of other families we haven't even met, and instead made a healthy decision for our family, securing land that will make us very very happy and be able to manifest our dream of community in myriad ways. We were suddenly so clear that we decided that even if they suddenly accepted our lower offer for both parcels we'd refuse. So we bid full price (595) Sat night, spent all day yesterday waiting in agony until we heard that they'd accepted, then all night giddy and dreaming.

Now two weeks of Due Diligence just to satisfy our agent before lifting the subjects, then an agonizing month of waiting to move in. There's a big (and a small) greenhouse for us to have winter crops, a stone-built cold storage built into a hill for our potatos and onions, the barn, 3 storage sheds, a woodshed, and unfinished half-basement for laundry and play and whatever, the barn has a long low narrow hayloft for kids' play or silent meditation. Two-acre hayfield to generate a bit of income and make us eligible for agricultural tax exemption (plus all the income from selling eggs, milk, veggies, whatever - i dream of an occasional table at the farmers market, though sarah scoffs. Maybe my homegrown zucchini in a chocolate loaf would sell well...)

Oh, the house, forgot to mention the house that sarah fell instantly in love with. 1936, well maintained, simple, 1300 square feet (which was always our exact idea of what would work, though we've lowered that in more recent times), 3 bedroom, gorgeous south-facing living room, and my favourite is the a-bit-too-small dining room overlooking the gardens, hayfield and neighbour's farm. It really won't require us to do anything except put in an efficient wood-burning stove to replace the electric baseboard heaters.

The location needs also to be raved about. 1.6 km (1 mile) walk to the school, also can walk/ride to Bright Angel Park with a suspension bridge over the river, rope swings into said river, walking paths and picnic areas along the river. Just on the edge of a small farming community of maybe 50 small houses clustered along the river by the old flag-stop train station, beautiful old church turned into a B&B, no stores or anything but a strong community in the midst of big rolling farms. We can cycle to Duncan without getting on the highway, can definitely keep our driving to a minimum, rather than being constantly in our car as many people have warned us that rural life would entail.

And the land, that beautiful land. The driveway goes alongside the little parcel of land that we won't be buying, so that might become a house, but then ends at the top of a hill with the garage to the left and house straight ahead, and you have no idea that you've just come off of a road, you're just there, no car noise, no sight of the houses you just passed, just our home, a gentle grassy slope dotted with all the outbuildings and blackberry bushes and flowers, down at the bottom begins the 2 acre hayfield, behind which is the neighbour's bigger hayfield going back up the other side, with his big new house at the top way back. To the right of the house is a huge sloped wooded area with paths curling down around the base of the hill and back up to the driveway, a seasonal creek at the bottom. This path we will use to start the walk/bike ride to school each day. So much space to roam, create, explore. The kids will be free to roam and ramble. They're already entrhalled with the "haunted houses" (old sheds and chicken coops). Galen has already announced his egg-selling business, and is eager to help me kill and skin a rabbit. We found several methods for killing online, including one graphic video, none of which looked all that appealing

A fun part of putting such visioning in writing is knowing that even by the end of September it will have changed again, and even moreso once we're living in Eden and getting to know it all better. But we own land, have a piece of land on which to plant dreams and grow visions. We've longed for this since Texas, since seeing our friends' similar land in Seattle, since deeply knowing that we want to live in community.

On our last, restless night of sleep in our Vancouver house, Sarah woke up with a start, thinking we'd forgotten to pack the welcome sign on the back gate. She then remembered that we'd never got around to making it - a telling sign of how that beautiful, community-filled home was perfect for that step, but still just a step towards this new space and way. It'll be the first thing we do in our new home, carving or creating a happy sign that quotes Balou from Jungle Book - "Come fall apart in our backyard."

We celebrated by watching Bridges of Madison County, and feel like Clint was talking about us when he said "All our lives have been focused on reaching these four days." Or to quote John Lennon, "All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive." Or to simply answer our friend's question, "Yes, we are happy."

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