Well, the house is on the market. It's just a house. The realtor and the Husband have made it look better than it has ever looked before. It is staged nicely, sparkling clean, no clutter (WOW!), crystal clear windows....it looks so nice that I don't want to leave it.
I love the light in this house. It is one of those modern Eichler constructions which purists loathe for their cheap construction and slab floors...but which I love for its minimalist lines, open floor plan and great light. The house faces, windowless, west, so the front door can be opened to take the offshore breeze in nice weather, and closed to the brunt of the storm in bad weather. The rear of the house faces east across open space studded with oak trees, so I look out of the floor-to-ceiling windows to the dawn sweeping up from the horizen, painting the sky in reds and pinks and golds, the oaks stark against the morning. From the couch next to the windows I have sat and watched G-d's light show, the rare thunderstorm's lighting bolts, dance across the eastern sky.
The yard itself lies to the east, right outside our windows. It is comprised of patio and lawn, shaded by a giant and now old native California maple. The maple is the kind of tree everyone loves to look at--big, leafy, drenching the yard in shade during the summer, providing tree-tracks for the squirrels to run across, a perch for the local barn owl eyeing the adjacent field for dinner, the high branches the gossip center for our birds who gather there in dozens, chattering madly. The yard outside the back window is mostly lawn and the tree, with roses and azalea tucked under the lee of the fence in the realm of full sunshine. There are roses that bloom this time of year before all the other roses--a climbing cacophony of small yellow wild-looking roses that arch into the sky on their untamed branches. I'm afraid the rain has washed them away. They were just starting to bloom when the March deluge began.
I will miss the maple. The maple is why I wanted this house and none of the others. We've tended it with care and love, and it has provided our son's bar mitvah reception with shade, our friends' visit with shade, ourselves with beauty and birdsong through the seasons.
But I finally hired a gardner because it drops about a million leaves in November and we couldn't keep up with it. I can remember weekends where the Husband and I labored in our yard to clear it of fallen brown maple leaves, only to retire to the house and watch another million leaves drift down on the lawn by nightfall.
When we moved here, we planted a maple in the front yard also. A tree so small it was barely a sapling. It was a small sprig we received one Tu B'Shevat from the local JCC, which was giving away sprigs to people and encouraging them to plant them. Well, we planted it in a tub, first. Then it grew and was put into a bigger tub. Then a deer ate most of the leaves and I thought it was a goner. But no, trees are designed to be eaten by herbivores, I found! The tree came back with fuller, lusher leaves and more branches. Finally, when we moved into this house, we decided it was time to plant it and gave it the place of honor in the front yard. It is now almost a full-blown tree, still young but no longer frail against the western winds; reaching over 7 feet high, but still gangly like the adolescent it is. I wonder if the new owners will take care of it, or decide to rip it out? Our Tu B'Shvat tree....
On the north is a fence between us and our neighbors. They are great neighbors, and appreciate the bounty of our lemon tree hanging over the top of the wooden boundery as well as the beauty of the roses which have launched themselves in a cascade of blooms into their backyard. The little lime tree which was a struggling bush when we came now produces a bushel of limes every season and seems to be a survivor. Beyond the fence and the houses the grassy hills rise up and up into the sky, emerald green with all the rain and lushly spotted with oak trees in the crinkles of each hill. A mountain lion wanders there, once seen walking the trails in search of our wild turkeys who flock on the hillsides. These are the higher hills of our valley, and on warm, moonlit nights we have walked home from shul and heard the coyotes singing to the stars.
On the south are windows that open up the country kitchen to a view across the valley and to the tree-covered slopes of the abrupt hills. Yet just outside the south windows is an intimate patio of flagstone bordered in dichondra, a planter box beyond it with the wild Iris Yona planted years ago thriving in the corner. The fence itself appears mundane because if you aren't here in April, you would never know that the ordinary vine shrouding the wood bursts into purple blooms.
Outside the south windows, the Husband hung a hummingbird feeder. We tell ourselves that it is 'television for the cats' who gather indoors to stare fixedly at the hummingbirds, but I have noticed over the years that we watch the birds just as avidly, noting their markings and commenting on who is back each season. I wonder if the new owners will feed the hummingbirds?
The house is all cream and blue and wood. The country kitchen and office are wood floored; the rest carpeted in pale blue with cream walls and wood trim; the closets and doors are natural wood; the kitchen full of Hickory cabinets, white appliances and blue accents. Even the white tile has a blue cast in its depths that is so subtle it is hard to define. The main bathroom off the hall is blue-walled, beige-tiled with white fixtures. The master bath is cream with a blue sink but tiles silk-screened to look like marble with warm veins of brown/gold shooting through it. We didn't plan the color scheme consciously. The house was a wreck when we bought it and we did one project at a time, and over time, things just seemed to fit together.
We love the house. Now, more than ever, since we are releasing it to the next family that comes to this neighborhood. I hope they love the roses, the lemon and lime trees, the maple, the hummingbirds and the house as much as we've come to love it. I think I will never come back here because it would break my heart to find the maple gone, replaced by a swimming pool, or the Tu B'Shevat tree uprooted for a basketball court.