The oscillating fan is doing its work this morning, pushing cool morning air into this dark and un-airconditioned room where I sit behind my computer on a desk lifted mightily, last weekend, from a very cool basement back in town. It's hot here, but it's hot almost everywhere in this country right now, and this week is going to be even steamier. By mid-afternoon, this great room will be a sauna. I'll sweat, sitting.
But we're in. After three of the longest, hardest days of my life--I swear!--we're out and we're in to a kindly old place with quirky new angles. No matter how stiff I am, a little corner of the wall beside my bed, put there to cover the chimney, gives me a place to grab when I try to pull my weariness out of bed. Our downstairs toilet works just fine, but the tiny little corner it hides in makes using it embarrassingly awkward if you're over, say, 160 pounds. I haven't been 160 since seventh grade.
Somewhere here, I'm sure, are building materials a century old or more, but they're hidden. It's one of those farm houses that expanded in chunks when a family did or when hefty corn prices became an enabler: put a room on here, take a wall out there, panel over the plaster. The basement seems almost new. Once upon a time the owner must have lifted the whole thing off its base and built up a new one where the old one was crumbling.
Originally, I'm sure, this house didn't come out of a catalog; it's spent most of its existence being redesigned and rebuilt so that eventually, I'm sure, it fit its inhabitants like a glove--like the couple who just left, who called this house "home" for almost fifty years.
There's a barn out back with a huge goldfinch painted beneath the peak and a basketball court in the hay loft. There's a brooder coop and a doghouse and hollyhocks, the quintessential Iowa farm flower--some might call 'em weeds. A row of pines just west of the house is sadly dying, but the place swarms with trees, including an ancient, swarming cottonwood, a couple of windswept apples, three gargantuan maples and trio of silver-somethings, so many trees the Dish installer shook his head and gave up, told me I'd have to dig a ditch half way to town to get his apparatus out far enough to catch the satellites.
It's not particularly quiet--there's a highway 200 yards south and trains just east; but we're on gravel and right next door the field to the east got bailed on Saturday--in all the heat. Beans out back. We're in the country, but spittin' distance an old railroad town called Alton, Iowa.
We're out and we're in, and this morning's thanks are obvious. Everywhere I look inside, of course, the boxes are legion. Right now, it feels like it'll take all of the year-and-a-half we'll live here just to disperse all of our stuff. We got rid of tons, but we still have too much. "Three moves is as good as a fire," a friend told us on moving day, his shirt soaked with sweat. We'll try for two.
This morning's thanks are easy enough. I'm thrilled to be sitting here at the old desk and a yellowed keyboard. The printers are set up, I'm connected all over the house, there's books in the library, the buffalo skull is nicely mounted, and that fan is a blessing. All around me--and us--things are still a mighty mess, but this'll do for a home. Yes, it will. This'll do for a home for a time.