I moved from a small cottage in the mountains of eastern Canada to a renovated farmhouse in eastern Iowa. It is more than renovated – it is expanded. It has wings. I live in one wing, and share the kitchen, dining room, entrance hall and sun porch, which functions as my living room and workspace – like the solar of a castle. There is a fountain in the front yard. The other wing is a great room with a large fireplace – the master’s lair. I venture into it on tiptoe, to let the Great Pyrenees dog, Zach, in and out of the back yard. I haven’t been upstairs.
Like any good castle, it has livestock running loose. There are chickens here, and they are little feathered thugs. And like any good castle, this one is in a constant state of construction and renovation. There is scaffolding at the back of the house, and the Rock Star hens like to climb into it to watch me in the kitchen. They come up to the full length window in my door, running madly on some secret chicken errand, glance in, and run on.
There is a ditch with mallards in it – our moat – and a good deal of fencing. We are at the end of a gravelled road. The property is well shaded, spacious, and mysterious, full of odd little corners and gardens. It looks still and peaceful, but a lot of work goes on here. The large vegetable garden is going in; various nooks of the house are being wired or painted or modified. I clean and cook, and look for work. I haven’t worn shoes since Sunday.
There is a cellar. There is a mystery door on the stair landing, which seems to go out into nothing. I have not ventured even that far upstairs. It is no-woman’s-land, and is referred to as “the man cave.”
I liked our cottage, but this awakens ancestral memories in me.