I knew Greg loved this property from the slow way he walked its one and a half acres, around the sturdy post-and-beam barn in need of a fresh red paint job, beyond the traditionally simple Lunenburg four-square house, and down the gentle slope to the salt water below.
We strode through unmown grass, fading to yellow in the cool November temperatures, kicked at the apples that lay rotting on the ground, an offering left behind by deer that had clearly become regulars. The old homestead did not offer the rugged shoreline that is Nova Scotia’s hallmark but rather a gentler take on the East Coast – a shallow inlet, dotted with islands, beautifully still, with water the colour of steel.
The house itself was a disappointment. Old carpets, peeling wallpaper and listless curtains obscured its charms. The sag of the kitchen floor hinted of the home’s long neglect. Water had evidently found its way into an upper bedroom before someone scrambled to replace half the roof. But, where I saw marriage-testing renovations, with unknown costs, Greg saw possibility: an I-beam here, a plaster skim coat there, floor paint and new windows to the water.
The drive back to Halifax was quiet, but the die had been cast. We would take the time to think it through, to consider other houses, our finances, the busyness of family life and work lives. Somewhere, though, we both knew we would buy the blue house with the red barn. The next time we saw the place it was a clear, cold February day, with a fresh blanket of snow. We placed the offer the next day.