During the cold months, our little house holds its breath. When the wind starts gusting and the chilly rain chases the last few leaves off the trees, we close its doors and windows and it stands firm, boldly bracing its wood and brick frame against the elements. For the long midwestern winters, our house wraps its arms tightly around our family, pulling us close to the core of the house where the warmth is unwavering.
When we bought this house a few years ago, we knew it would be a tight fit. Our previous home was lovely and large, but it was stretching our bank account to the point where we couldn’t keep up. This newer house is half the size of our old one; there is no “family room” or “dining room.” We basically have one large room that, besides the kitchen, serves as our primary living space. But instead of tight, it began to feel cozy. Instead of us all escaping to our own corners in the evenings, we were drawn to our living area where games, puzzles, and movie nights kept us close to each other. The shared space provided more shared experiences, which led to more conversations, more inside jokes.
When the cold begins to be chased out by crystal-blue skies and warm breezes carry the scent of damp earth, we are ready. We’ve been holding our breath and waiting, to the point of feeling restless.
This is when our house, holding its breath along with us, begins to exhale. The curtains are pushed aside to open the windows. The little porch in back, affectionately known as the “reading porch” is open for business once again after being closed off for the coldest days. Beyond the reading porch through French doors awaits our screen porch (yes, a porch off a porch—one can never have too many!), where I spend most Sunday afternoons sipping an iced tea and delving into whichever novel I’m reading; beyond that are the beloved flowers and plants in our yard. There are a couple of cardinals that frequent our back yard; I suspect they have a nest nearby.
Everything is breathing out, releasing pent-up energy and endless waiting. We are ready to fling open the doors, hop over to the other side of the welcome mat and explore past our front steps. Our garage yawns and sets the bikes free, the skateboards, the kites, and other things that “go.” Now is when we exhale, when we stretch our tired limbs. Now is when we take in all the good things that lie beyond our doorstep.
Originally published May 4, 2021 on My Huntley News