Made for the Country

St. Patrick’s Day is not just another useless holiday upon which I refuse to wear green or decorate my house. It’s an anniversary for our family. Yesterday marked two years since we left Richmond and moved to the country.

Now, someone will probably read this at some point that actually lives in the country and they’re going to roll their eyes and say, “Lady, I’m 70 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart so you don’t even know country.” And, to that, I would say, “Fair point.” Our rural side of this county isn’t really, truly country. But, we are surrounded by farms. Sure, they exist mostly to provide our nearest organic grocer with local artisanal herbed goat cheese that costs $25 a pound but, they’re still farms. And, sure, sometimes the horses that abound seem rather decorative. I mean, they’re not for herding cattle or anything. But, still, you can’t have horses in the city. So, I think this means we’re in the country. Also, and this is an important point, we have snakes. And, I think an abundance of snakes is the one requirement for country life, right? Yes, I think that’s correct.

Charlie believes whole-heartedly that he lives in the country. A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting in the car for one of the kids. (Or, maybe it was Bob. I’m not sure. I’m always in the car waiting on someone. Always.) Anyway, I was in the car in the driveway and Charlie walked up to my open window and I leaned out and he asked on tiptoes, “Mom, do you think I was made for the country?” I instantly smiled and replied, “Yes, Charlie, you were made for the country.”

Could he *be* wearing any more camouflage?

Said in my best Chandler Bing voice, “Could he *be* wearing any more camouflage?”

Charlie loves this house and this location and this country more than any of the rest of us combined. When school was called off for the primary elections a couple of weeks back, Henry, Millie and I took it as an opportunity to stay in our pajamas, watching our favorite shows or lazily building Lego or coloring at the dining room table. Basically, all indoor cat activities. When I called Charlie for second breakfast and he didn’t respond, I peered out the kitchen window, assuming he must have gone outside. Sure enough, there he was, out front, patching up a portion of our gravel driveway that had turned to mud in the rainy weather. He had dressed himself, put his John Deere work gloves on, popped open the garage door, gathered his tools in his Gator and headed out to get to rearranging that gravel.

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Charlie is simply his best self when he is outside. And, I am so delighted that we can give that to him; a great life out of doors. Now that the weather has warmed, each afternoon, he arrives home from school and, most times, his backpack doesn’t even make it in the front door. It gets deposited somewhere in the garage as he pulls out his bike or his little motorcycle, grabs his helmet and off he goes, making endless loops around our neighborhood square or hitting the trails that run behind the house and around the ponds. I am so grateful for this space for him, for this backdrop to his childhood.

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Bob and I feel blessed every day, too, to have found this house. And, after two years, we are ready to embark on some bigger changes to our home. We’ve done lots of cosmetic things over the past year or two like paint and fixtures and lighting but we both feel it’s time to tackle the basement. We are sitting on a tremendous amount of unfinished square footage down there and capturing that space would make our compact home feel twice as big, quite literally since we live on a single story.

Finishing the basement really benefits everyone. The kids have been arguing more and more, as kids at these ages are wont to do. Having a big rec room on an entire other well-insulated floor of the house would give Bob and I the option of just shoving our children down there and closing the door instead of rationally settling their disputes like responsible parents. The plush carpet we’re going to line the space with will give them a soft place to land. So, we’re all pretty much on board with this plan.

Now, we just have to actually make the remodel happen, which, just thinking about the process makes me twitchy. The contractors, the budget monitoring, dealing with all of the crap that currently resides in the basement, the terrifying noise of a still-running air compressor going off in the middle of the night, the dust. THE DUST.

Simply writing about it all is making me feel panicky so let’s look at one more cute picture of Charlie instead.

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I was helping Charlie brush his teeth yesterday morning before school and he leaned over, gave me a huge hug and said, “Did you know? Every time I hug you? I’m charging you with love.” You know, like an iPad or something.

Good gravy. This kid. My absolute favorite country boy.