IT’S BEGINNING TO FEEL LIKE HOME around here, though I’ve been unhappy about the unseasonable cold. Memorial Day weekend, it was 48 degrees in my living room. That set me to questioning the wisdom of this whole endeavor — my recent purchase of an unheated house in the Northeast U.S. There’s nothing wrong with having a summer cottage. It’s just that I had naive hopes of stretching the season to five months a year, if not seven. Definitely more than three. Wearing multiple sweaters, a wool hat and scarf indoors, sleeping under two down comforters, and huddling by an electric space heater was not what I had in mind. And though a fireplace is pleasant, it’s less so in June.
Whatever the temperature is outdoors, it’s the same indoors, especially with large openings along the back wall, above, that can’t be called windows. They have no glass in them, just wood shutters that shut out light but not cold air. What is to be done? Get estimates for new windows! Double-insulated ones, as a step on the road to eventual winterizing (single-paned windows are a special-order item at this point, so rarely are they requested). I’ve had two contractors here measuring. I await their estimates, so I’ll know what I’m in for, though I don’t expect to be able to act on it for a while.
I’m hunkered down in the longer leg of the L-shaped house. My kitchen, above, is cute and functional. I like my new Avanti stove; I’m cooking with gas! The great room, below, in the shorter leg, remains uncharted territory.
Then there’s the landscape. A few evenings ago, a garden-designer friend walked the property with me and marked saplings and small trees for removal or limbing up. A large number were festooned with red ribbons. The landscape guys didn’t show up as promised on Saturday; they came Sunday morning, and set their chain saws buzzing for about four hours, until my next-door neighbor popped his head over the fence and asked us to desist. I had little choice. Less than half the job was done, but I like what I’m seeing. It’s still going to be a shaded woodland garden, but with room to plant an understory of shrubs and perennials.
Wood chips mark temporary paths
Speaking of popping over fences, I had two unwelcome visitors this past week: my gardening nemesis, the white-tailed, tick-carrying deer. I shrieked and waved my arms madly, and they bounded away, sailing over the 6-foot fence with no apparent effort. Another fond hope dashed.
I’ve had welcome visitors, too — friends who say kind things like, “Ah, you’ve been working your magic!” I feel a long way from magic, but considerably closer to home.
After the rains: sunset at Maidstone Park