The House of Dreams

Finding a nest of your choice is no mean task in the Bay Area, but we managed it thanks to patience and resourcefulness on the part of the husband.

We moved in to our new nest this year, so it seems only fitting that I read Anne’s House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery twice in 2021. Once, as soon as we moved in earlier in the year, and again, when I have been flitting to Prince Edward Island in Canada later in the year.

It seemed too much to ask for all the things dear to one in a home, and so we kept on looking for years on and off. The new nest, may have some things that realtors, buyers, and property assessors don’t seem to take into account, but these things played a big role in my mind. Our realtor stoically bore with refusals of homes based on reasons that drive statisticians up the wall.

‘But’, they say, ‘proximity to freeways matters more than proximity to a stream.’. I see them exchanging looks that suggest worry on my behalf. 

‘Trees? You can plant as many of them as you’d like – why would you look for trees near your home? I mean. Just trees. ‘ I disagreed. I loved the sycamores, fruit trees, and the cypress trees in our small strip of land in our previous home, and insisted on having many trees nearby.

Walking paths for elderly people? One person asked me why I did not consider putting elderly visitors up in a hotel when they visit and buy that mountaintop house anyway. I gasped. No – a flat, safe area would be required for the visiting grandparents to take their walks in.  

So it went. 

One was rambling, one was tumbling. 

One had a nice backyard, but one did not live in the backyard. 

One had a swimming pool, but no trees. 

Really, it is curious to see how houses have developed over the years. 

Our new nest is far from perfect – the kitchen has a wine cooler in prime real estate territory (for teetotalers most of the time, this feature is being used to store yogurts and juice boxes for the children). I need a stepping stool to get at the closets with spices. 

But there are things past closets and wine coolers. Trees, for instance, or a home library and a ledge with a window looking into a marvelous tree for another, and, the best gift of all – a walking trail by a river nearby. Reminds me of the passage in which Gilbert Blythe tells Anne of Green Gables before their wedding about a little house he found for them at Four Winds Point. That is how I felt. There was no other way to feel. 

“So far, good,” said Anne, nodding cautious approval. “But, Gilbert, people cannot live by furniture alone. You haven’t yet mentioned one very important thing. Are there trees about this house?”

“Heaps of them, oh, dryad! There is a big grove of fir trees behind it, two rows of Lombardy poplars down the lane, and a ring of white birches around a very delightful garden. Our front door opens right into the garden, but there is another entrance–a little gate hung between two firs. The hinges are on one trunk and the catch on the other. Their boughs form an arch overhead.”

“Oh, I’m so glad! I couldn’t live where there were no trees– something vital in me would starve. Well, after that, there’s no use asking you if there’s a brook anywhere near. That would be expecting too much.”

“But there is a brook–and it actually cuts across one corner of the garden.”

“Then,” said Anne, with a long sigh of supreme satisfaction, “this house you have found is my house of dreams and none other.”

Anne’s House of Dreams – By L M Montgomery

The river near the home has nourished us in several ways. It is very like the stream in the passage above, although it isn’t exactly in our backyard. We live in a suburban area built up by such factors as Strong Economic Growth, Silicon Valley culture and all the rest of it. The river is a few blocks away, but it is there. Just flowing, and relaxing us whenever we can get away from it all to take a peek.

The trees don’t form a bough, but they rustle and tousle with the winds. And the chirping of the birds is quite enough to charm one.

Slowly, but steadily, the laughter, companionship of friends, and love is transforming the house into a home. To that, I am grateful.

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