Saturday, June 21, 2008

Home: The lay of the land

Home is a sturdy house on a small patch of hilltop land, situated between two old villages typical of Middle America.

Less than two miles to the north, strip malls rise up and stretch to the Interstate five miles away. To the south, modest suburban homes gradually give way to farmland, bisected by another highway three miles distant.

Our western exposure abuts a residential mega-development, mercifully buffered by a large berm and an array of evergreens, honeysuckles and ornamental olives in our back yard. Across the street to the east is a vacant farmhouse and a group of decrepit outbuildings, surrounded by small, odd-shaped fields currently planted in soybeans. Beyond the fields, two hundred yards from our front door, is the tree line of a wood.

Our humble plot is by no means wooded, but the previous owners saw fit to dot it with red pine, blue spruce, yellow poplar, silver maple, early apple and sycamore. While the subsoil is hard clay, it yields reluctantly to vegetable and herb gardening. Water comes not from a remote reservoir, but from a well nestled among several pines.

All of this puts us in a place best described as rural suburbia -- not quite country living, but neither is it life in a pre-fab box on a postage stamp.

It's home.