My memories of home growing up are of a Monticello like estate by the lake. Our home was always under construction, full of activity and interesting conversations between diverse people. My father, a doctor, research scientist and man of culture could be found on a Saturday afternoon, building our home, constructing peers into the lake or clearing a path with his Oliver Bulldozer. Sundays were filled with, the sweet melodies of Broadway Musicals and Classical Masterpieces wafting through the house as we sat down for a dinner of Cornish Game Hen cooked slow on the rotisserie.
I still remember clearly, my father’s misty eyes as Richard Burton’s deep rumbling voice came from the reel to reel tape, half speaking half singing …
At night, as I drifted off to sleep, I listened to my mother play Claire de Lune on her second hand Baby Grand Piano and I made a deal with God, as all children do. I promised that if he gave me wisdom, I would learn to play those sweet yearning notes just for him, because it seemed to me the only offering worthy of such a momentous boon. My Mother liked to say, “We had all of the luxuries and none of the necessities.” She was right, but what we truly found there was food for the soul.
I turned 10 the year the Blizzard of ’77 hit Western New York. My parents worked at Roswell Park, an hour away and after 17 years of commuting and one heck of a winter driving, they’d had enough. We packed our bags and moved to downtown Buffalo. As you might expect, I hated the idea of moving to the city. All I could think about was getting back home. I remember coming across an article, “Build Your Cabin in the Woods for Under $1000”. It was a 10’x10′ plywood space with a split sleeping loft that sported a full sized mattress on either side. To my 10 year old imagination it was paradise. It was my “ticket home” And it began a life long fascination with building my own home in the woods.
The years passed, I married young and had my son, only to divorce shortly after. As a single Mom I struggled to support my son and I. My dream of owning and maybe building my own home someday kept me from despair during those difficult years. I drew and redrew elaborate plans. A round house, a ranch, a cabin. I read books about alternative financing, combed real estate listings and pursued any lead I thought might get me a little closer to my dream. But everyone told me I was crazy. I was just a single mother with no money, poor credit and no options. That is, until the love of my life entered the picture.
Myron and I met in 1987. And though, for me at least, it was love at first sight, we didn’t start dating until nearly 12 years had passed. We were always very like minded. He’d say, “You don’t talk very much.” and I’d reply, “You said it all perfectly, what’s there to say?” Once, he told me of his dream to have an A-Frame cabin in the woods with an open sleeping loft and a big fireplace and I knew that my search for my soulmate was complete.
We married and he moved in with my son and I. We looked for a house, but we were both financially strapped and unable to gain any footing. As my son neared adulthood, I began thinking about the family property back home more and more. My brother lived on the old lakefront homestead, but my Mom still owned 11 acres across the road from him. She’d been complaining about paying the property taxes on a vacant piece of land she would never use. It seemed that it might be time to finally return home. All I had to do is convince Myron.
He looked dubious as I casually suggested we take a ride and look at the land. “It’s too far away.” he said. “It’s a beautiful day for a drive. What’s the harm?” I said as though it didn’t really matter to me. And so it went for a couple of hours until I finally cajoled him into the car. He hemmed and hawed the entire hour and half drive. But as we pulled up he got a little quieter.
“Is this it?”
“Where does it start and end?”
“It starts at the bottom of the hill and comes up to the mailbox.”
“How many acres?”
We got out of the car and walked through the woods to the edge of the small valley with the humble creek meandering through. He stood on the edge and took a long search look around and said,
“Let’s do it.”