The third season

This weekend we will take a break from the blue house to raise a pint or a few to the past and pending 50th birthdays of ourselves and our friends. We are sharing the occasion with three couples at a massive rental house much younger than any of us.

Other than its waterside location, the “land yacht” as its owners call it, is the antithesis of our Lunenburg County “project” Perched over the ocean, with its own indoor pool, the grand house with soaring ceilings will no doubt make for a memorable weekend. As happy as we are to mark the occasion, I know a part of Greg will be further down the shore, thinking he could have had time to get the beadboard on the kitchen ceiling.

Things are most certainly coming along at the old place. The wan blue of the house has been banished by a shade known simply, and aptly, as “sapphire.” A bright white coats the barn doors again. Inside, we now have two bathrooms with walls, though no doors.

 

Thankfully, the weather has cooperated. It has been a spectacular fall, warmer than usual, with yellow, orange and red leaves burning against the clear blue of the sky and illuminating the roadway to the South Shore.

Nature’s fleeting third season in Nova Scotia creates an imperative to take in the near-startling beauty of every colourful display, an urgency to absorb the last bare-arms warmth from the retreating sun.dinner

Our group of eight friends is likewise entering its third season. We have gone from flats and first houses, to marriages, newborns, and teenagers. Together, we seem determined to enjoy fall, to burn as bright as we can for as long as it lasts.

Decades from the milestone we toast this weekend, I hope we are together still – perhaps in a more humble blue house with a red barn – to share the beauty of  winter.

A horseshoe for luck

Last weekend Greg’s parents, Anne and Gray, stopped by the blue house and red barn to check on progress and deliver lunch. They are pretty taken with the old place though perhaps a little concerned with the scale of their son’s undertaking. So, it’s gratifying to know they see progress where they once saw problems.

Walls have been demolished so sunlight plays throughout the main floor all day; the worst of the crumbling, mildewed plaster is now gone, along with every scrap of carpet and linoleum – thanks in large measure to the able efforts of our friend Gregor and his teenage son Finn.

messy room
Evidence of good friends and hard work

 

Greg’s careful installation of new basement beams has eased the sag of the kitchen floor. Masking tape and figures scrawled on lath boards with carpenter’s pencil show the location of new bathroom fixtures, bigger kitchen windows and patio doors to the water. Read More

Giving up its past, one layer at a time

Our new/old house hides its stories well, inside its old pantry,  under layers of flowered wallpaper, and beneath the tired shag carpets and patterned linoleum that cover its softwood plank floors. This house was always loved, it seems, not for its fine qualities but for its service to the family who called it home – from the time of its late 19th Century construction until more recent years when it reluctantly left the hands of the builder’s descendants to be watched over from newer homes close by.

It is a simple, sturdy house with four tight bedrooms, two small front rooms and a woefully outdated kitchen whose floor slopes noticeably toward the two chimneys that pierce the house’s centre: one chimney for the fireplace, the other for the furnace and a long ago kitchen stove. The blue house has stood these many years supported by beams that have grown a little weary of their load and will soon need modern intervention. Handrails on the sweet back porch threaten to give way with the slightest push, and there’s a hole to the basement where a leak under the ghastly pink bathtub was neglected.

In short, it is a house that needs significant attention and even more patience.

But, around the property spring is demonstrating the hardiness of the  apple trees, a pear tree, a white lilac and a purple one –  their blossoms crowding the air with the sweet promise of summer. It is an inspiring display of the resiliency and potential that resides in this property and – hopefully – in us. This will be a season of work for us as we peel back the layers of this lovely old place and make it our own.

 

 

And so it began…

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. Read More